Another viable option is to research breed-specific rescues. This can be a great alternative if you desire a more rare breed that isn't likely to show up in a shelter without being placed on a long wait list. Here's what you need to know to go through a Breed Rescue Group.
What are Breed Rescue Groups?
Breed rescue groups specialize in purebred and sometimes mixed-breed dogs. They are usually run by people who champion a particular breed who have in-depth knowledge of that breed. They may have a network of foster care families or a facility that keep adoptable animals until they can be placed in appropriate forever homes.Â
Why would anyone abandon a dog, especially a purebred one?
Sometimes animal breeders get in over their heads and are unable to manage the care that a large breeding stock requires. This recently happened in Helmetta, NJ, where a shelter is currently trying to place 63 Shih Tzus from a failed breeding operation.
Other dogs get sent to these rescues from boarding kennels and veterinarians where they were abandoned. Some were simply lost and rescued as strays living on the streets, or the victims of abuse and neglect. And some shelters coordinate with breed rescue groups to facilitate more space at the often over-crowed shelters.
Screening goes both ways
Because breed rescue groups are devoted to caring for their breed, they put prospective adopters through a screening process to ensure that their dogs will be placed in a permanent home. This is important since the dog has probably already experienced difficulties, and they don't want to put a dog in another heartbreaking situation. Screening may include a written application, verbal questions, and possibly even a home visit. This may feel invasive and like you are being grilled, but keep in mind that these rescuers have often seen the worst cases of neglect, and therefore may come across as hyper vigilant.
Some rescues are fronts for animal hoarding or may be redistributing stolen dogs for profit, so be sure to ask several questions as well. The initial phone call should include questions about how the rescue works, how it evaluates and places dogs, and what the fees are based upon. Ask if there are post-adoptive services available. This shows the animal advocate that you care as much about the animals as they do, and should be reassuring to both parties. If they are evasive, or you feel the answers are not satisfactory, go elsewhere.
If your chosen rescue seems on the up and up, home visits may be appropriate. This includes a visit to your own home, and a visit to the foster home to meet the dog you may be interested in adopting. The adoptive screeners will be looking to make sure your home is tidy and safe, and that any children at home seem kind and respectful. Child/adult interactions may be taken into consideration as a hint as to how pets will be handled (such as teaching manners, discipline, or lack thereof.)
When visiting the foster/rescue home, also be looking for the same things, such as cleanliness, number of animals present, and how they interact with the dog. Ask questions about any problems the dog may have. If they seem too positive or unrealistic (after all, the dog may have had some behavioral issue that caused the relinquishment in the first place) be suspicious. A truly caring and aware rescuer will be realistic and honest about issues and what they have been doing to rectify the situation so that continued care and lessons can be seamless.
If you like the dog and are satisfied that the shelter has a good grasp on the dog's health and behavioral needs/training, sign the paperwork, and pay the fee. Do not sign the contract unless you feel that you can adequately take care of the dog's physical and emotional needs. Make sure that all issues are discussed including follow-up care and if the shelter is available to help should an unforeseen issue present itself.Â Consider a bonus donation if you believe in their cause.
Bring Your Pet Home
Have a crate and/or collar and leash available to ensure a safe transport home. Seat belt harnesses are a wonderful safety option. Ask to be able to bring home a small token such as a favored toy that will make the dog feel more comfortable with the transition.
If you are interested in the personalized service a breed rescue can offer prospective adopters, check out this Breed Rescue Directory. Your new friend, who will be so grateful to have their forever home, could be waiting for you!
Have you had any experiences with a breed rescue?
Shih Tzu photo by Sadie Shih Tzu.