Max: 10-pound terrier mix returned nearly two months after adoption

Our marketing team featured an adorable 10-pound terrier mix, Max, on our blog earlier this year in January. At the time, Max was reaching 800 days in our care. With the help of our supporters and local media outlets, we found an adopter within days, and our entire team was ecstatic. Nearly two months later, we were shocked to hear his new adopter made the decision to return him.

About Max

Max (animal ID: 23723) celebrated his 11th birthday in his new home on February 23. Since his return in March, he has spent more than 850 days of his life in a shelter. Our previous dog care specialist, Jessica Silva, worked very closely with Max prior to his adoption, and was instrumental in gaining Max’s love and trust and increasing his chances of adoption.

“When he first arrived,” we wrote in our blog, “Max was terrified and would often show signs of aggression. [Jessica] knew she could help Max overcome his fear and fostered him for nearly three months. In her home, it took Max two days before he began to trust her. Jessica learned he loves car rides, treats and snuggling in bed.”

Recently, Jessica found a new opportunity and made the difficult decision to resign, but not without asking our marketing team to feature Max again.

Unfortunately, being in a shelter environment for nearly three years has not helped Max with his nervous and untrusting behaviors. Thanks to Jessica, we know he is a very sweet pup with those he trusts, and to gain his trust, it’s best that he do so in a comfortable home environment.

“A kennel is not for him,” Jessica said.

In her home, Max was able to blossom. Jessica kept her distance and let him get comfortable with her and her dogs at his own pace. Eventually, Max approached Jessica, and it was an incredible and rewarding experience for her.

“[Dogs] sense your energy and feed off your energy,” Jessica said, explaining that dogs can sense what a person’s true intentions are and if they’re there to help. “We don’t know their backstories and how they were treated before. You have to learn as you go and be understanding.”

With dogs like Max, our adoption process is as stringent as possible. Our dog care associates are available to address any issues or concerns and are trained to communicate any known behaviors, good or bad, to potential adopters. Unfortunately, we still see pets returned despite our efforts.

“It takes time for a dog to get used to a new household with new rules,” Jessica said. “It might not always be easy, but it is always rewarding.”

The Rule of Threes

At Valley Animal Center, our animal care associates advocate the 3-3-3 Rule, an adjustment period designed to help adopters understand what their adopted pet may be going through, according to Dina Fantegrossi of

“The hope is that they’ll overlook the awkward behavior, forgive the small mistakes, and allow enough time for bonding to occur,” Dina wrote.

Resources at Valley Animal Center

Of course, with dogs like Max, it’s possible it may take more than three months to adjust. If at any time after you’ve adopted you feel unsure about your decision, please reach out to us for help and resources.

Adopt Max

Jessica believes Max will do best with a single owner who can give him all the love and attention he needs. He prefers dogs and cats with a calm demeanor and truly appreciates having his own space. If you are interested in adopting Max, please contact our dog adoption center at to begin a conversation.

Valley Animal Center is dedicated to serving animal companions in the Central Valley and beyond. Our mission is to unite dogs and cats with loving people. We believe every animal deserves a loving family and furever home. Donate to support our endless mission as we care for hundreds of homeless dogs and cats.