Cat 'hides too much': Why pets get returned to animal shelters

Hundreds of animals are sent back to Chicago shelters every year, and there's a reason for every return.

But one shelter has a new attempt to find a pet the right place the first time.

Everett "stinks" -- West pulls on the leash -- Kenya hides too much: these are just some of the reasons dogs and cats were recently returned to Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC) after they were first adopted.

“Adoption returns are just unfortunately a part of life,” said Kelley Gandurski, acting executive director of Chicago Animal Care and Control.

So how many are brought back? Shelter records show about 160 animals were returned there over the last two years.

“We always stand behind our animals and take them back if needed,” Gandurski said.

Some of the top reasons for returns: tenants who find out landlords don't allow dogs or certain breeds, and owners who say their dogs have too much energy or have a tendency to get sick.

Ludwig was surrendered because the owner said he couldn't afford vet care.

But the team at CACC is getting creative, training volunteers on new screening strategies for Chicagoans looking to adopt.

The changes include a new application form, with open-ended questions, that can lead to great discussions between potential adopters and volunteers.

“We want them to feel welcome and relaxed,” Jenny Schuler said.

Schuler also says a friendly demeanor prompts a more honest and open conversation with someone looking for a pet. They're encouraging volunteers to counsel more.

“What I want to do is try and make sure that you feel empowered, to be able to educate people, to give them the tools that they need so they can be good pet guardians,” Schuler said.

The goal for everyone to be matched with the right pet. Hopefully, the first time.

“It's a commitment, it does require work. Animals require work. But they're worth it,” Gandurski said.