So many times people have to give up a pet (sometimes for very good reason) and think they'll just contact a no kill shelter. So they look up the shelters closest to them, and the rescue groups, and they start making calls or sending e-mails. They very quickly get frustrated. Usually they don't hear anything back, and even when they do get a real person to respond, it's only to hear "sorry, we're full". They think they're trying to do the right thing by getting their pet somewhere safe, and no one will help them. And yet they know there are plenty of rescue groups and shelters doing adoptions, and space opens every day, so why can't anyone help them?
This is a very good question, and it's one reason I hate telling people I'm full. I usually offer to put them on a "waiting list" but most people can't wait that long when I tell them it could be several months. This is because most people do not want to turn in a puppy or a fluffy small breed dog that is house-trained and good with dogs, cats and kids. And sadly, this is what most adopters are looking to adopt! Puppies are out of here quickly. So are almost all small breed dogs. Purebred dogs have a better shot, unless they're a bully breed. But give me a large mixed-breed dog or a bully breed and it's a whole different story. This is why I have to turn away the lady who found the American Bulldog mix, and yet I can say yes to the lady with the Shih Tzu/Beagle mix puppies. The puppies are out of here in less than two weeks, while the last pit bull I took in (Roxy), although she's house-trained and good with dogs, cats, and kids, and the sweetest dog you'll ever meet, is here going on two months now. We're not even talking about dogs with issues - dogs that won't get along with some other dogs, or dogs that have some behavior problems or some physical problems. I help whenever I can, as do all other rescue people, but sadly there are too many dogs and cats needing help and not enough rescuers and adopters wanting these dogs. So this is why if you ever ask a rescue or shelter for help in placing your dog, you're likely to hear "sorry, we're full".
Here are some suggestions on what to do if you do need to rehome your dog or cat:
* Take two pictures - a good full body shot and a good face close-up. This will help more than anything in getting someone to say "yes" because it's much harder to turn away a pet needing help once you've seen a picture!
* E-mail the pictures and relevant info to every shelter and rescue group you can find. Include physical characteristics (size, weight, age, sex) as well as health status (if spayed/neutered, any health issues or special needs) and information such as if they're good with male and/or female dogs, cats, children, house-trained or not, any special behavioral problems such as separation anxiety, fear of a water bowl, guard their food or toys, or whatever.
* Tell the truth! You'll make people very angry if you say a dog is healthy and they find out he or she is not. Your dog may even end up being sent to a kill shelter or euthanized if the group who took them in can't handle whatever issue you lied about. Also, you'd be surprised how many times that special need that you can't handle is what makes a rescue person help. For example, tell me a dog can't hear and I'll generally jump at the chance to help. Other rescuers specialize in senior dogs or cats, bully breeds, dogs with special needs, and so on. So for the sake of the dog or cat, be honest.
* Think ahead. Don't wait until a week before you're moving out of the country to start looking for someone to take your pet. Be willing to help as much as possible. Offer to foster the pet yourself if the group will put the pet on their website to help him or her get a home.
* Be patient. Remember that the majority of rescuers and no-kill shelters are run entirely by volunteers. These are people just like you who give up space in their homes and give up their time to take in unwanted pets. They're not getting paid. They spend their time caring for animals who come to them afraid and unsure, and after they give the pets love, affection, vet care, basic training, and anything else they need, they turn around and adopt them out to someone else. Just so they can start all over again with another scared, needy animal. They do it because they want to help the animals, and even if they can't help you, won't return your calls, or seem to be rude, remember that without them, a lot more animals would be suffering and dying. So be patient. And if they do offer to take in your pet, be thankful! Shower them with appreciation, make a donation if possible, or bring them cookies. Well, that's just my personal preference. Just make sure you acknowledge the sacrifice they are making to take in your pet. And then spread the word about the good work that animal rescuers are doing. Encourage your friends to donate or adopt. Because that is what makes animal rescue possible!