South City resident angry over having application to adopt dog rejected over where she lives

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ST. LOUIS - A south St. Louis resident is frustrated after her application to adopt a dog was denied because of where she lives. The rescue says it was acting in the best interest of the dog.

Friday afternoon (March 1), a woman posted on Facebook asking neighbors in Tower Grove South for pet rescue recommendations.  The woman said she was "fuming" after she received this email response from Gateway 4 Paws after applying to adopt a puppy.

"The area you live in is listed as a very high crime area... and this is not a place we want our fur babies to live.  Sorry," the email reads. It was signed by Gateway 4 Paws.

The post has generated some confused and frustrated responses from people who live in the Tower Grove area.  Many say it is a pet-friendly neighborhood and they feel safe walking their dogs in the area.

On its website, Gateway 4 Paws says it is a "small breed dog rescue" based in Fairview Heights, Illinois with "fosters on both sides of the river."  According to the Illinois Department of Agriculture, Gateway 4 Paws has four foster permits which are valid through June 2019.

Recent adoptions listed on the rescue's Petfinder page feature mostly puppies and young dogs, and breeds like Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Eskimo dogs, and Poodles.  Those interested in adopting must email the rescue for adoption pricing.

Gateway 4 Paws issued this statement to Fox 2 about the recent adoption application rejection:

"Gateway 4 Paws works tirelessly to make the very best choices for the dogs in our care to ensure they are adopted into the very best homes and can live their very best life.  Every application is thoroughly reviewed by our volunteers and a long list of factors are considered. We take into account fence or no fence, who all lives in the home, where the home is, how much time the dog will spend alone, we check vet references to make sure past an existing pet are receiving proper care, and so much more.  Some items are across the board requirements, while specific requirements can vary dog to dog, but we do not compromise on the very best life for each dog in our care.  We do not and never will adopt on a 'first come first serve' basis, but instead review every application that is received, speak to approved applicants about the dogs and their lifestyle, and find the absolute best fit.  Our dogs are all fostered in volunteers' homes, where they are loved as if they are already home, so that we can learn their personality and needs.  This gives us the ability to confidently place them into forever homes where they will be successful.  We regret the hard feelings that have arisen in regards to a recent application, but will always make the choices that we feel are in the best interest of our dogs.  They are our number one priority and always will be."

Fox 2 reached out to Gateway 4 Paws multiple times after the statement was issued to ask further questions, including whether there were any other applicants in the region who had been rejected based on where they live, but the group did not respond.

A complaint was filed against Gateway 4 Paws with the Better Business Bureau in January 2018 saying the rescue rejected an application without explanation.

Gateway 4 Paws responded to the complaint, in part, by saying:

“In animal rescue, we know what is best for these fur babies and can and will only pick the very best home for them.  If we can tell from the application that it is not a good fit, that is where our communication stops with the applicant.  We have no obligation to provide them with details.”

Fox 2 reached out to several other St. Louis area pet rescues about whether they reject applicants based on where they live.  The rescues said only in areas with breed-specific ordinances would they reject someone from adopting an animal based on where they live.  In those cases, they said they would help the potential adopter find a pet match that was not banned.

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