As a kid, I never wanted to share.
What’s mine was mine. Putting in all that effort to build a Lego masterpiece only to let someone else put their mitts all over it? Thanks, but no. That defiance flourished into my teens and 20s as social media exploded and everyone was suddenly sharing everything from drama to dinner plans, whether you asked or cared.
The onslaught of all things shareable made me think the 12-year-old Joe was justified. So it didn’t shock me when I spoke to a woman who, too, was hesitant to share.
Teresa Van Why had sought to adopt a cat named Winter from a local animal shelter. The shelter, as it should, had a thorough, three-page application for Van Why to complete. It asked for basic information along with some details Van Why was hesitant to provide, including her driver’s license number.
She filled it out anyway, at the home of a volunteer who was fostering the pet.
Van Why grew concerned when she didn’t receive a call or a decision right away, so she phoned the shelter to find out the status of her application. She was informed the volunteer had ventured out of town and applications weren’t kept at the shelter but at the homes of volunteers.
On top of it all, Winter was awarded to another applicant.
Van Why was disappointed but she was more uncomfortable with the idea of her information laying around in someone else’s home, so she asked to have the materials back. The shelter obliged.
Speaking with a volunteer at the shelter, I learned it was their policy to keep the applications in foster homes since they were the ones who approved applications, which needed to be extensive so animals could be paired with the best fits.
Many of the questions were included in the application because people would often lie to the shelter to get pets they eventually couldn’t keep — leaving the animals again back on the streets.
The volunteer assured me they were kept safe and the application didn’t ask for anything personal, like social security numbers or financial information. Looking into it further, the questions appeared to be on par with a few other applications used by other regional shelters.
But for Van Why — and anyone filling out an application of any kind — sharing what and how much is entirely up to you. If you’re hesitant, ask where records are held. Ask about efforts to preserve confidentiality. Ask to work around the detail, if possible. If you’re still uncomfortable providing information, the solution is simple: Don’t.