What comes to mind when you think of rescued dogs?
Mixed breed? old? Aggressive? Crazy? Modern dog rescue is so different from the idea brought up by older ideas about dog rescues! Although most dogs come into rescue with issues of some sort, a good breed rescue will not place a dog in a foster home until its behavior and health can be evaluated.
Upon intake into an organization that rescues dogs by breed or other quality (like location, age, etc.), a dog is taken to an available foster home. In that first foster home a dog is:
EVALUATED – The dog is allowed to participate in a typical home environment and evaluated in how it interacts with humans, other dogs, children, and other pets.
NUTRITIONALLY SUPPORTED – A rescue is immediately put on a high quality food to improve skin and coat, lose or gain weight according to vets recommendations, and help the dog feel the best it can.
TRAINED – starting right away, newly rescue dogs and their foster home start training to be housebroken, learn to walk nicely on a leash, and have good house manners.
SPAYED OR NEUTERED at no cost to the future adopter.
All of these steps ensure that sick, aggressive, or unstable dogs are never adopted into homes and less the adopter has agreed to take on their special needs. A good rescue will be 100% honest about a particular dog’s strengths and weaknesses- since placing the dog in a permanent home is in everyone’s best interest.
Common misconceptions (and their corrections) about getting a purebred rescue dog through a breed rescue:
Many prospective dog owners have their heart set on a puppy- but would you give up 6 months of cuteness for an already housebroken dog, A dog that won’t chew your shoes, or a dog who doesn’t need four visits to the vet within the first few months?
Misconception #1: Most are really mixed breed dogs – breed rescues rescue their breed and only their breed. Occasionally, a breed rescue group will facilitate the adoption of a half purebred dog, but generally, all dogs adopted through a breed rescue are judged to be purebred by experts in that breed.
Misconception #2: Most rescue dogs are old, I need a trainable puppy – A good percentage of rescue dogs end up in rescue because they are simply too rowdy as puppies or young adults! Many people buy certain breeds loving the look of the breed but unaware of the exercise and training needs. Without discipline and training, many puppies can wreak havoc on a home. Overwhelmed owners frequently pass their young, healthy, exuberant dog on to rescue because “he is just too much” for families with frail family members or who don’t have the time to spend on training.
Misconception #3: Rescues are always sickly – Some dogs do come into rescue with medical problems, but no dog is ever placed without a full veterinary exam. Dogs are fully vaccinated, wormed, treated for any other conditions, and allowed a reasonable recovery time in foster care before being adopted into a permanent home.
Misconception #4: Rescues tend to be aggressive – No responsible rescue group adopts out aggressive dogs. Morally and legally it is an unacceptable practice. Rescue dogs may need clear leadership to help them establish their role in the family “pack”, but follow-ups with rescue volunteers, free training, and/or consultations with veterinary behaviorists before and after adoption are always available.
Misconception #5: There’s always a reason the dog was given up – It’s true there’s always a reason, but it may not be the dog’s fault- in an increasingly mobile society that reason is more and more often an owner moving out of the country or transitioning to a lifestyle that cannot accommodate a pet. Most rescue dogs come into rescue through neglect, surrender to local shelters, through the death of an elderly owner, or their family moving to a place they cannot keep dogs. It’s not just “bad” dogs that end up in rescue.
Misconception #6: a rescue won’t look like the breed is supposed to – A purebred rescue will probably never pass for a show dog, but if you communicate your desire for a dog that matches the breed standard the rescue will be open to working with you to match you to the right dog. If you insist on classic markings, perfect tail length, or perfect ear-set you may have to wait a bit longer, but the dog you picture will come along. Even the most handsome, well-bred dogs can be found in rescue through unfortunate circumstances.
Misconception #7: A rescue will never really see us as his family – It’s a fallacy to believe that a dog must live in a home since puppyhood to feel like a member of the family. Rescue dogs always have an adjustment period (ranging from just a week or two to several months) but always bond with their new family and home eventually. Just think about working dogs like guide dogs and assistance dogs- these dogs are fiercely bonded with their owner but most working dogs don’t get their placement until they are several years old.
Misconception #8: Rescue dogs can’t be shown – rescue dogs can’t be shown in conformation competition, but dogs that match their breed standard are eligible to pick a show name and register for an ILP number from the American Kennel Club. The ILP number will allow a rescue Airedale to compete in obedience, agility, flyball, tracking, or other AKC dog sports just like any registered purebred.
If you are looking for a dog to casually show in obedience, agility, flyball or other dog sport- rescue may be the perfect option. Instead of gambling on a puppy who, as an adult, may lack the drive or discipline to excel in your sport, you’ll have the opportunity to choose a developed, adult dog with the perfect drive and personality for your sport– and a dog who’s ready to begin training right away.
Misconception #9: breed rescues are just as expensive as getting a puppy – because breed rescues spend a lot of time and resources making sure dogs are healthy and mentally found to be adopted, the costs generally fall halfway between the cost of adopting a shelter dog and the cost of buying a purebred puppy. If adoption costs are an issue for you you can also offer to foster a dog through the breed rescue, which can give you an opportunity to get to know a dog before adopting and may be negotiable for a lower adoption fee.
If you think a rescue dog might be right for you, look up the breed you have in mind in your region to find contacts for local breed rescue volunteers near you.
Lindsayanne is a professional artist, writer, and serial-DIY-er with a knack for solving problems creatively at home, in the studio, out in the garden, and even online. Learn more about Lindsay, her training, and her background here.