Not all rescue organizations are warm and fuzzy! Some are not interested in providing a service to either the dog or his new family. Believe it or not, they may be more interested in numbers, which gives them the “documentation” to collect undeserved grants, donations, and sucker in more volunteers to do the work. Yes, some are in it for the profit! Of course, most rescues are doing the right thing, but unsuspecting families need to have some guidelines and use caution and common sense when selecting a knowledgeable and supportive rescue organization. Distinguishing between the “good” and the “bad” is really not difficult.
Groups that hold adoptions at pet shops and malls with dogs and puppies ready for adoption “on the spot” may not have good canine knowledge. The prospective new owner selects based on the appearance of the dog or puppy. They may be told a “sad story” about the dog, which is really a subtle high-pressure sales pitch. The groups may tell the family that the dog “will be destroyed tomorrow” if they don’t adopt. Another tactic used by these unethical groups is to push a second dog on the adoptive family once they have committed to one dog. “But they are best friends,” they will say, or “they won’t do well if they are separated.” Guilt can be a powerful thing!
Prospective new owners should ask about the “take back” policy of the group they are using. If a new family finds out that the dog they have adopted is not going to work out for them, and the rescue will not take it back, a serious problem can develop. Often the group “will” promise at the time of adoption that the new owners can return the dog, but then don’t follow through. The sad truth is that some of these groups are more interested in the adoption numbers than an adoption that is truly successful. This is not being interested in the welfare or best interests of the dogs and puppies in their care. Reliable rescues will have very detailed adoption forms that ask questions about the family’s experience, ability to care for the dog financially, and may even require a home visit before the dog is adopted out. Often people will laugh and say that they were interviewed in such detail that one would think they were adopting a child! Right!
Adoptive families would be wise to check out any rescue they are interested in with the Better Business Bureau, local obedience schools and veterinarians, and the local shelters. The shelters may be able to tell you if they have taken in dogs that could not be returned to the rescue group.
If a particular breed is wanted, consider contacting a rescue that specializes in that breed. Good groups will usually have the dog spayed or neutered, and give the appropriate shots and health checks. Some even will go so far as to get teeth cleaned! Of course, you will have to pay or provide a “donation” for any animal you get, but most times you are getting these health services at a far lower price than you would otherwise.
Even rescue dogs that aren’t puppies can experience the adventure of new learning, and should be taken to obedience training classes. Most rescue dogs will come with a name, but will do fine if you choose to rename them. Rescue dogs excel in many roles, from therapy dog work and obedience competition, to taking part in family activities of all kinds. My rescue Greyhounds loved doing tricks, showing off with the “Dancing Greyhound” of Kathleen and Waldo Gilley, and competing in UKC and AKC trials. One, “Sage,” was listed in the top ten AKC obedience Greyhounds. The best rescues groups will try to match dog to human so that the dog will have the best chance to fulfill his potential.
Those who take on a rescue dog can be rewarded many times over. If they are trained with patience and love, and made a part of the family, the likelihood of having to return a rescue dog is small. Good rescue groups have a vested interest in making sure their placements are the best they can be, so be sure you do business with only the ethical groups!