Thinking About Rescuing a Dog? Do Your Research.
Dog rescue centers play and extremely important role in our society. However, I can’t help but feel a bit skeptical sometimes because some of them let themselves get too big, and it seems as if their focus then shifts from being primarily about the dogs to more about the fund raising and tugging at people’s heart strings. Because of this, some people have grown wary of larger rescue organizations, even though most of the time they do great work. And then there are extremist groups like PETA (people for the ethical treatment of animals). If they had their way, there would be laws passed that would basically put a stop all dog breeders. What would happen to the perpetuation of certain pure breeds and blood lines of dogs? I am a firm believer that the industry must be regulated to stop horrible practices like backyard breeders and puppy mills. However, PETA have taken things a step further and are pushing for people to only be able to get dogs from shelters because they believe there are already too many unwanted dogs. Well then what? Once all of the dogs are adopted can no one else have one? So, while I think animal welfare organizations and rescue centers are an integral part of our society, it seems the bigger they get and the more public they make themselves, the more they lose their focus.
I got my dog from a private rescue that is fairly small. It was founded by one woman and she monitors it very strictly to ensure that it never gets too big. She also has a very strict screening process that she puts potential adopters through. This is something that I feel is lacking in larger animal shelters. Pretty much anyone can walk into their local pound or shelter and walk out with a dog. All they have to do is pay the adoption fee. Not to mention the fact that there is usually no thorough behavioral assessment or character evaluation done on the dogs that are available. This means that the dogs with the most issues usually get returned to shelters multiple times before they get adopted by someone who is willing and patient enough to rehabilitate them. Rescue centers really highlight the fact that people often don’t take owning pets seriously, which is why I believe the bigger ones should spend more time screening potential adopters, because the more rigorous the adoption process, the more seriously people will think before they rush off and rescue a pound puppy that could come with a mountain of issues.
Rescuing a dog that has had an unfortunate start in life was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. My problem dog Joey is the reason I became a dog trainer and she has completely changed my life for the better. However, I had to jump through many hoops before I could finally bring her home and I am extremely thankful that the adoption process was so rigorous, because Joey is NOT a dog for the faint of heart. If she had not been taken on by a private rescue and placed in foster care, there is no doubt in my mind that she would have become a yo-yo dog because of her extensive list of problems. She would have been bounced in and out of the larger rescue facilities again and again (and probably finally euthanized) as well-meaning family after well-meaning family realized too late that they had bitten off more than they could chew. This is because the only process they would have gone through to adopt Joey would have been filling out some simple paperwork and paying the adoption fee. There would be no home check, no detailed analysis of Joey’s character or issues (without sugar coating them), no multiple meet and greets with Joey and her potential adopters, no mandatory now go away and think about it for at least 1 week . I was subjected to all of that and more before I was allowed to bring Joey home, and I am eternally grateful because I took her on knowing that I would have to put a lot of hard work into her.
It has been 2 years since I adopted and started rehabilitating Joey, and she is like a totally different dog. She is now extremely well-behaved and, as a result, I take her everywhere with me. She has become my little sidekick and is the official spokes dog for my dog training business Sit Happens. Joey and I have gone through a lot together, but it has been an amazing learning experience. In my opinion, rescue dogs make the most loyal companions because they are grateful for even the slightest kindness shown to them. Joey is my best buddy and I wouldn’t trade her for the world!
Key Points to Remember if You are Considering Adopting a Dog
- Do research on a variety of rescue organizations and find out what their mission statements are.
- Look into smaller, more privately run rescues, where they will have a better idea of the nature and issues of each dog that is in their care.
- If you are not sure whether you are ready to live long-term with a rescue dog, consider joining one of the fostering programs run by many private rescues. This is where you get to look after an unwanted dog and lavish it with lots of love and attention until it finds its forever home.
- Do you still have your heart set on owning a purebred dog? Well, there are lots of breed-specific rescue organizations as well. They are great because they have mountains of information on the characteristics of the breed they are focused on helping, they know what kind of people and lifestyles their breed is suited to, and they are very adept at pairing you with the right dog.
- Be aware that most dogs from rescues have had traumatic experiences in their pasts. As a result, you must be prepared for the worst. I am not stating this to deter you, it is simply a fact. Therefore, be proactive and consult a professional dog trainer or behaviorist prior to bringing home an adopted dog. That way you can start off on the right foot from day one.
- Lastly, make sure you are adopting a dog for the right reasons. Have you thought long and hard about the pros and cons? Are you prepared for the possibility of a long-term fix it project? Do you have ample amounts of time and money to put toward the physical and behavioral rehabilitation of a damaged animal? Or are you just adopting this dog because it looks cute in its photo on the internet and it has a time running out sign attached to it?