Q: Why is it so hard to adopt from a rescue? Our family was turned down by one group for having an electric fence, and another because our children are under 8 years old. Ultimately, we did adopt from a local shelter. However, it was a very frustrating experience.
~ Penny Wasserman
Thank you for your desire and choice to rescue. My favorite breed is ANY that was rescued. Knowing what breed/breed-mixes are best for your family is paramount to a successful adoption.
Talking to a coordinator at a rescue first and discussing your family dynamics and activity level will help them find a dog that fits your lifestyle. During this process, ask about getting your application pre-approved, so you are ready when your perfect match arrives. However, understanding the purpose of rescues is equally as important.
Rescues come in many shapes and sizes. Some rescues are breed-specific, some are for senior animals only (over 7 years old), some only pull from high-kill shelters, etc. Once a dog becomes a part of a rescue (most often they are pulled from a shelter), it becomes the rescue’s responsibility for life, which is why the best match is so important. Securing the most successful placement possible is their sole focus.
Rescue groups are volunteer-based and devote a lot of love, time and expense to every dog they save, and each dog has a unique set of needs. Veterinary, training, boarding and daily care are just a few of these expenses. Based on past experience, they are also well aware of requirements for a successful placement. The rescue will therefore be very careful and methodical in finding that perfect fit. In addition, they want to avoid the dog being moved to and from multiple homes, which can prove to be very stressful for everyone involved, especially the pup.
Electric fences can be an issue as many rescues feel that the dog has possibly been abused and/or neglected, and do not want to “shock” a dog for training purposes. Also, a dog can easily escape an electric fence, become lost, injured, etc. Families may want a particular dog for looks, or breed, even though it may not be a good match for their lifestyle. For example, a high-energy dog might not be a good match for someone in a townhouse due to the exercise requirements.
Nobody wants to see a child bit or nipped by a dog, therefore 8 and above is usually the age rescues will most readily be adopted to. Generally, it is hard for children under the age of 8 to grasp the training and understanding of limited and safe interactions with a new rescue. Educating children on how to properly greet, care for and engage with a dog is imperative. For instance, it’s important to give a dog space when it is resting, eating or playing with a toy. Let children know that dogs are visual animals and will chase and jump at anything in motion; and don’t pet or hug a dog if it seems fearful or is growling. Knowing a dog’s boundaries is very important.
Having knowledge of rescues and the adoption process will ensure a smooth and successful adoption experience for all. Once you fall in love with that furry, little (or big) being, and that animal becomes a part of your life, you will truly understand the common phrase of “Who rescued who?”
Joy Freedman is a dog behaviorist and obedience instructor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.joyfreedman.com.
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