What is responsible rescue? Well that question has many answers. Right now we are going to talk about just a couple of responsibilities of rescues.
One of the first responsibilities is for rescues to be transparent and tell potential adopters everything they know about a dog. Why wouldn’t this happen? It sounds like a no brainer to the general public. Those of us involved in rescue know this does not happen often enough. Potential adopters are lied to all the time. There are two ways to tell an untruth, lie by omission and blatantly lie. Both of these things happen way too much. The biggest subject they lie about is the behavior or past behaviors of the dog. While we may not always know how a dog will react in the future to certain things, these rescues know when a dog has a bite history or when they are out of control.
The second responsibility we’ll talk about is support for the dog and their new owner. Did you know that temperament testing and training are not even on the radar for a lot of rescues? If they spend money on training they don’t make as much profit. These irresponsible rescues pump dogs off transports to adopters and offer what we call a “tailgate warranty”. This means if an adopter has an issue with a dog, medically or behaviorally, they offer no support. The usual answer is they can’t help and can’t take the dog back. Sorry. I had a boss once that used to say “Good Luck!”. We all knew that meant he would offer no help or support and we needed to handle it ourselves. What these irresponsible rescues are saying to the adopters is “Good Luck!”.
While some rescues will fundraise for massive medical expenses for a dog, these same rescues say they cannot afford training. The responsible rescue will fundraise for both, knowing they are equally important.
One recent client came to me with a nice 60ish lb. pitbull mix she adopted. The rescue told her that he had impeccable manners. Even an inexperienced dog person could spend 30 seconds with this dog and know he did not have ANY manners. Don’t get me wrong, he has a great temperament and is super sweet, which is not always the case. This guy was pulling his new owner all over the place and threw her back out. He was a wild child inside and outside all the time. She was dreading getting up in the morning to face the day with him. Lucky for him, she knew there was a great dog in there and invested in training. Her veterinarian told her she sees this type of situation almost every day. I also hear these sorts of stories on a daily basis.
My most recent example isn’t so lucky. This little guy is now 11 months old and recently came from Georgia off a rescue transport. The adopters were told he was “teething”, which at 11 months really means still play biting with bigger teeth. This sort of thing ublic, but this easily worked with, but the adopters were not ready for his super high energy “teething” and are surrendering him to a shelter I work with. Lucky for him though, he will get the help he needs from me before he goes up for adoption. The sad fact is there are many shelters in this country where these same dogs would be killed when surrendered because of jumping and play biting. In Maine and New England there are quite a few “no kill” shelters. These shelters try their best, but if they are not equipped to handle some of the harder cases that are surrendered or transported from the South, then the dogs sit in kennels longer waiting for adoption. The tough thing is that these dogs that could have gotten help easily early on, only get worse when they sit in the kennels too long. There are some shelters that would rather have a dog sit for months hidden away in a back room then to get the dog help from a trainer that can solve the problem.
Why do I only work with a few rescues and shelters? Why don’t I help them all? While I would love to help all the dogs, I refuse to work with irresponsible rescues for these reasons. The moral of the story is that adoptable dogs and their new owners should be supported and not left hung out to dry. I implore you to research which shelters and rescues you support and make sure they are one of the responsible organizations. Please consider donating money for training in order to help these dogs find homes or keep them in their homes.
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