Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday Scoop: Why I Won't Rescue Your Dog

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!


Bailey said...

Our breed rescue comes with a contract we have to go back to them if we have a problem. That is something to consider when adopting.

I hate to imagine a scenario where the dogs have to go back, however, when we made our will we did provide the rescue information should we pass and the dogs need to be rehomed. There is a provision that covers the cost of placement. There is no guarentee that someone who wants the dogs now will be able to take them should something happen to you. Planning ahead gives the dogs a chance at a future.

Of Pit Bulls and Patience said...

Good post. I worked at a large shelter that had a no turn down policy, and we tended to get the "leftovers" that couldn't be taken in by the smaller rescues and no kill shelters. A huge number of them had kept their dogs until the last possible minute, and were angry that the rescues wouldn't take their dog with no advanced notice.

Luckily, our shelter is well funded and dogs are able to remain in our care until they are adopted barring any major behavioral/medical issues. But nothing beats a little public education- thanks!

24 Paws of Love said...

Thank you for sharing this post, I really needed to hear this. I have never given much thought to what goes on through your life on a daily basis when you foster and the constant calls and emails you must get as people who surrender their pets.

Frankly I have been on the fence about my beliefs concerning fostering and have had many doubts about the "system" of it. I think I struggle the most with the animals being shuffled so many times around. I don't blame anyone, I guess I just wish there was a better and easier solution as I have read so many times of dogs or cats being returned too many times to count and it really bothers me.

I appreciate you opening your heart and sharing your experiences that in turn have opened my eyes to a much bigger picture. Thank you for being a foster parent and shedding the light on what I realize now has got to be one of hardest jobs in the world. Thank you for all you do.

Dog Foster Mom said...

24 Paws of Love - When I first got started in fostering, I questioned too what was the point. If fostering didn't increase total pets adopted, then fostering was just moving animals around and taking adopters away from shelters! But I realized that fostering is a lot more than that. Foster homes/rescues help with animals that come from areas without animal control (there are a lot of rural areas around here like that). They also can take an animal that might not survive in a shelter environment and care for them until a permanent home can be found (young animals susceptible to disease or pets not able to handle the stress of a shelter). These are just a few examples of why fostering is so important, but of course like any other organization there are good groups and not so good groups. The good ones do their best to screen adoptive homes and make sure it's a good fit. They also have a contract that says they will take the animal back if the adopter cannot keep him or her. As a result, returns are at a much lower rate at these types of rescues than at most shelters. Good breeders have the same agreement, that they will take the dog back. Not so good breeders don't, and these are usually the dogs being given away or dumped.

Kolchak Puggle said...

What a wonderful post. Thank you so much fir sharing it with us. Fostering is so hard because you do have to say no so often. Another benefit of foster? Many dog's end up in shelters and at rescues due to behavioral issues. Not their faukt, usually - it is just a lack of training. Fosters help teach pups how to be, so their behavior issues are a thing if the past :) Thank you for posting this. It's a great one!

Bailey said...

Fosters can help the dogs and the new dog owners prepare better for the transition to a new home than many shelters. Bailey was a house broken puppy when he came to us and had started to learn to walk on a leash. He was socialized with other dogs during his stay.

Katy at two was just starting to be house broken and over come the challenges she faced prior to entering rescue at foster when we adopted her. I believe her emotional challenges would be even larger today if she had gone to a traditional setting instead of a foster home where she had the chance to start to learn what home life "should" be like before meeting her new owners.

Casey Jones' Mom said...

Wonderful information for anyone. People need to be aware of preplanning. I plan on posting this on my FB page encouraging my friends to repost it and get it all over the country.

Thank you for all the great work you do.

Anonymous said...

Just one other suggestion to Laurie's excellent list.
Try to find a home with people who know you or who know friends from your work or church or activities before you try a rescue group. There are people who do not know about rescue groups or don't like rescue groups who will adopt from an owner who needs to rehome a dog or cat. Sometimes you will be the lucky person who will find that person. While I am with a rescue group, one of my dogs is from a co-worker who needed to find a new home for his dog just when I was getting over my dog's death and had started to look for a new friend. We happened to be a good match.
Some of the big rescue groups have helpful pages on finding homes for your pets or pets that have found you, things you can try before trying to get into the crowded rescue groups and shelters. These papers can be helpful.
Again, that takes planning ahead, and in some cases one can't plan ahead. I wish we could wave a wand to convince more people to adopt a dog or cat - they are worth it, just for the laughter!

mayziegal said...

Hi Dog Foster Momma! I'm BACK! Did you miss me?

This was a most wonderful postie. My mom has talked to my Angel Donna Fostermommy about this stuff before. She says she hardly takes in bully breeds cuz they stay for sooooo long (I was the exceptional exception, of course) and she only has a limited amount of space. So she has to take in the ones that will get adopted out super fast. It breaks her heart but that's the way it is. Isn't that sad?

But I'm really glad she took a chance on me. If somehow I'd gone to a shelter, I prolly wouldn't have passed their temperament test cuz I was so shy and skeered. And then I hate to think what mighta happened after that! But Angel Donna knew that I'd make somebuddy a real good dog someday. So foster mommies like you are some of the most important people in the whole wide world!

Wiggles & Wags,

Bev said...

We need to have this as a poster at adoptions!

Brenda said...

Excellent suggestions. I do photography for a local rescue organization and can personally attest to the power of a winning photo of the animal a person is trying to rehome!