To say that many of the dogs who have found a home with the help a rescue organization quite literally owe their lives to their volunteers is an understatement - though given the nature of the cause, a simple wag of the tail is more than enough to repay their hard work! Here is more information that you may now know about dog rescues.
1. Most dog rescuers have full time jobs.
Rescue organizations are often comprised entirely of volunteers with regular day jobs and careers, more often than not, unrelated to dog rescue. These are volunteers and without their efforts, none of the success stories you see online would be possible.
The majority of volunteer locations for foster-based rescue organization can span from major cities to rural farmland and everywhere in between. The differences however, do not stop there. Much like the wide variety of dogs they encounter, rescue volunteers each come from a different background, with various life stories, experiences and reasons for volunteering. What unifies them of course, is the rescuing dogs who need help.
Outside of volunteering their time, many volunteers also attend school and/or work part and full time jobs in fields unrelated to animal rescue, and range from a wide variety of professions such as lawyers, doctors, and teachers. There are also stunt-drivers, nannies, retail operators, sales consultants, musicians, technicians, and full time students. Many volunteers often work around their 40 hour per week schedule and devote as much of their spare time to rescue as possible.
It has been said by Elizabeth Andrews that “volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they have the heart,” which truly is the case when it comes to dog rescue. Organizations in place to save the lives of needy dogs are so lucky to have teams of passionate and ambitious individuals who are on the same path, side by side, every day.
2. Not all dog rescuers are able to foster.
There are an unlimited number of people in the world who wish they could help save the lives of animals in need. For every viral video, for every sad Facebook post, there are literally countless comments and wishes of hopes and prayers, hundreds of shares and reposts that the dog will end up safe, loved, vetted, and re-homed.
These viewers all have busy schedules, activities on the go for them and their families, which cause them to be gone from home. They have vacations planned weeks in advance, numerous other animals and/or babies in their care. Not as familiar with the dog rescue process as they would like to be, for this reason, these viewers assume that they are of no help to rescue organizations as they do not feel it is the right time for them to foster a dog.
As such, they refrain from contacting rescue organizations to offer their help. However, this could not be more wrong! There are, in fact, many other roles and ways to help rescue organizations thrive and help save the lives of dogs in need, other than fostering.
All rescue organizations are in need of transportation, as not all volunteers are able to drive. This means rides to and from the vet, to see potential applications and of course, to their forever homes! There is also a lot of paperwork and screening that goes into the adoption process. Those with administrative backgrounds who are highly organized are a huge asset to rescues.
Anyone willing to host a fundraising event, collect donations from individuals and retail locations, babysit dogs in emergency situations, conduct home visits, create marketing for social media campaigns or photograph dogs for their biographies online are also much appreciated! Teenagers looking to volunteer their time for high school are also welcome. All you have to do is ask!
Almost every single rescue organization that exists relies solely on donations from their supporters and the public to operate. They do not get government assistance, are not federally funded in any way, and often times can run scare financially, especially in unexpected and emergency medical situations.
Though there is much preliminary information requested each time a dog enters a rescue organization, nothing is ever guaranteed. Dogs require initial vetting as well as follow-up appointments, many times performed without a rescue discount and professional grooming in times where at home remedies simply don’t cut it. There are shelter fees to pay, transportation costs and occasionally, the dogs who come into rescue require emergency surgery.
Whether it’s something as basic as a dental extraction, a spay or neuter, or something as serious as an unanticipated double femoral head osteotomy for bilateral hip dysplasia, the cost for each dog in rescue can increase at the blink of an eye if any complications should arise. Should the dog in question be too old to be put under anesthetic and requires an overnight stay at a clinic for example, costs are suddenly tripled.
Multiply that expense by the number of dogs at the rescue and it is easy to see how quickly some organizations can go under, if their finances are not managed properly. Medical costs aside, required for each of the dogs in rescue are the costs for food, toys, leashes and collars, crates and bedding, and the list goes on.
Therefore, when a rescue organization posts a dog for adoption at a fee of under $400, quite often they are losing money in the hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on what that particular dog has gone through. Most likely, the amount of donations incurred simply do not even come close to covering it all.
A reputable rescue organization will pride themselves in providing the best possible care for these dogs and sometimes against their better judgement, some rescues opt not to turn a needy dog down based on how much or how little they may have in their bank accounts to invest in vetting. After all, dog rescue is not about the money, but on seeing the smiles on faces of newly adopted dogs. Please keep this in mind when donating!
It’s probably the most common misconception about rescue dogs that they are broken in some way. Understandably, when something is given away it is deemed unwanted. However, that is not always the case with the dogs you find in shelters or in the care of rescue organizations.
These dogs come from a variety of different backgrounds. Some are given up due to divorce, some are given up because their owners enter assisted living facilities. Some dogs find themselves in shelters because they ran away from home. Whatever the case may be, the most unfair perspective to have when it comes to a rescue dog is that they ended up in the situation they’re in because of something they did.
In many cases, if you were to meet a rescue dog on the street, there would be no way of knowing that it hadn’t been raised by their current owner since puppyhood. Of course there are specialty cases, dogs with physical scars that display what they have been through in the past. But more often than not, these dogs look like any other.
Though it can sometimes be hard to shake a preconceived notion of what something or someone should be like, or act like, when it comes to rescue dogs - the best bet is to approach the idea of adoption with an open mind. Rescue dogs often have this “damaged goods” reputation foisted upon them, as if they will be a lot more work than buying a puppy from a breeder, and this could not be further from the truth.
The reality is of course, that all dogs need work. They need training, socialization, and routine as if you were raising like a child no matter the age. What sets rescue dogs apart from others is that the majority just want and need a little more love and tenderness and in return, they are most often the ones that appreciate it the most.
5. You want it, they’ve got it.
Another mistaken belief that seems to be spreading like wildfire, is that it is impossible to find a specific breed of dog in rescue. Generally speaking, when it comes to types of dog rescues, there are two different kinds of organizations. There are breed-specific rescue organizations and non-breed-specific rescue organizations. So what’s the difference?
Breed-specific organization: Some breeds of dogs have very particular known medical issues that develop over time, such as the pug or a large breed dog like great dane. These breeds typically require more extensive knowledge and experience when it comes to both their foster parents and adoptive family. Depending on the breed as well, there is more of a demand for expertise due to known behavioral issues such as herding dogs and that of course results in rescue organizations dedicated to that particular breed or groups of breeds.
So hypothetically speaking, if someone were looking for a Bernese mountain Dog, the likeliness of that particular breed showing up in just any local rescue organization while slim, would not be totally out of the question so it would be worth it to look into. However, such a large breed of dog with its known medical issues would typically be transferred to a breed-specific organization who would be of greater help to the animal based on their level of expertise.
Non-breed-specific organization: These organizations are fantastic for first time dog owners who don’t necessarily know what kind of dog they are looking for. A well known saying in rescue, “breeds are not brands” seems to ring true in this situation. While it is definitely okay to have a preference in size and gender, the appearance of a dog, or more specifically the breed of a dog should not always be the determining factor when adopting.
Going to a non-breed-specific organization will allow a prospective adopter to meet with dogs of all breeds, ages, sizes, and genders, and choose the dog that is most suited to them based on personality. So someone who thinks that they are looking for an English bulldog, may leave with a Pomeranian in tow. These organizations often take in hypoallergenic dogs, large dogs, small dogs, puppies, seniors, and everything in between. However, there are also small-breed organizations and large-breed organizations that cater to those sizes.
6. Toto’s not in Kansas anymore!
When visiting the local dog park, it’s common to begin a conversation with just about anyone with regards to their dog. Typical questions often include what the dog's name is, how old they are, what their breed really is, and how long they’ve been going to that particular park. However, with the recent boom in popularity of rescue organizations, the most interesting question being asked these days is “no, but where did your dog come from originally?”
Now depending on where you’re reading this article from, answers at your local dark park will differ. But more than ever, dogs have been finding their families in places from all across the world. It has become such a phenomena in recent years that one family alone can have three dogs of completely different, and sometimes polar opposite origins. For the first time ever you may be told that Rufus the German shepherd had originally been found in an Ohio shelter, Bronco a delightful mountain feist from India and Moose, a tiny chihuahua shockingly hails from Greece.
But how do these dogs get from their country of origin to sitting in front of our fireplaces? While the answer alone is just one word, it is so much more than that. Transporters. Who are they and where do they come from? Transporters are some of the most wonderful people in the world. We’re not kidding. These are networks of people who often go completely unrecognized to those outside the rescue community, despite being such a crucial and imperative driving force.
Transport networks can be found all across the world and are comprised of teams of drivers who are allocated to cross specific distances with rescue dogs in tow. So for example, if Rufus, a dog from central Ohio has a family waiting for him in Toronto, Canada, he may pass through the hands and cars of up to 20 sets of drivers in order to make it to his final destination.
These transporters will often drive what is called a “leg” of transport, whether it is determined by city, by state, or by a number of hours. Once they have reached their designated location, Rufus is then safely transferred to the next transporter, and this pattern continues until he is safe and sound in the arms of his adopters.
Sadly, transporters often do not get acknowledged for their dedication to the cause, despite offering countless hours of their time driving dogs in need, weekend after weekend. They are some of the most selfless volunteers in the rescue world and without their help, many of these dogs would not make it to safety. They follow very strict protocol without question, to ensure that dogs are fed, let out for a pee without bolting, given medication, that they are not too hot or too cold. They drive our future family members to safety despite the howling, the crying, the occasional vomiting. They tend to these dogs as if they are their own, often times never to hear from them again.
So if you ever come across a transporter, make sure to thank them for their hard work. If you adopt a dog from a rescue organization, we urge you to get in touch with the transport network who helped your dog get to safety, and let them know how well they’re doing in their new home. And if you’d like to offer your help to transport dogs in the future, make sure to contact your local rescue organization to get in touch.
7. It takes a village.
They say it takes a community to build a marriage, and a village to raise a child. Much like these examples, it takes many different individuals from shelter staff to rescue volunteers, to veterinarians, and trainers to place a dog in their final, forever home.
Given that there is such a wide range of backgrounds and skills involved with regards to who considers themselves a dog rescuer, it makes it a lot easier to assign different aspects of rescue to volunteers. What is sometimes overlooked when it comes to rescue organizations is how many people really come together in order for just one adoption alone, to go through properly.
From the shelter volunteer who assesses the dog in question and posts their photo alongside their biography online, the process then moves on to the foster parent at the rescue organization who decides they will foster it. The intake coordinator at the rescue organization then arranges for a transporter to pick the dog up and bring it to the vet. The veterinarian and their team will then make sure the dog is up to date on vaccinations and is spayed or neutered depending on its sex.
From there, the transport drivers will work their magic, bringing the dog sometimes across numerous states in order for the rescue organization to be able to place the dog for adoption. Once in its foster home, the dog may visit a groomer, then a photographer will often conduct a shoot to show off his or her best angles to potential adopters. Once a biography has been created by the dog's foster parent, it is posted on social media by another volunteer for prospective applicants to view.
Applications in turn slowly roll in, and then come the screeners. These volunteers interview the potential adopter, conducting reference checks with their friends and family, and of course their vet. Another volunteer will conduct a home visit to ensure the dog is going to a home that is suited to their needs.
If all goes well, the adoption manager will then draft up a contract and send a letter of approval to the adopter and the dog is adopted. Based on this, it is clear to see that each and every volunteer plays an intrinsic part of the process.
8. Screening exists for a reason.
When one decides that they would like to adopt a dog, the most fun part of the process is definitely searching for a companion that they feel would be a great fit for their home. However, with so many choices available, when it comes time to apply for that dog online, we know that sometimes the application and screening process can seem a little daunting, to say the least.
Certainly it would be much easier to walk into a store and buy a puppy, but it is exactly this “instant gratification” mentality that has contributed to the hundreds of thousands of homeless and subsequently euthanized pets in Canada today. Adopting a dog is a lifetime commitment and not something to be done on a whim.
Like any rule that is put into place, there is a special reason rescue organizations screen so thoroughly. While completing an application, you may come across a question that seems out of the ordinary, and think to yourself “why do they need to know this information about my family and/or living situation?”
But it is important to remember that the majority of these rescue organizations have been in place for many years, and that each and every question was added to the screening process carefully. It is also important to remember that the person screening you is doing so, unpaid, in their own spare time. It is not their intention to frustrate you or cause unnecessary delays during the adoption process.
While it seems quicker to just buy an animal from a pet shop without any questions, the benefit to adopting a dog from a rescue organization is that the foster parents know these dogs inside and out. The dogs live in their homes, they interact with their own dogs, their cats, their children, and spouses. In addition to this knowledge, the screening process helps the foster parent determine if the dog you are applying for is the right dog for your family. They are also there to help out, if you have questions or challenges down the road.
Though the adoption process can sometimes feel tedious, it is important to understand that it is the same for every applicant whether you are a celebrity, a family member, or friend of a volunteer, whether you have met the dog already or not. A reputable rescue will strive to place each dog into its most suitable home as opposed to adopting the dog to the first person who expresses interest. And that is the nature of rescue, the volunteers who give their time have a duty to ensure their dogs are homed with a family best suited for them, with applicants who believe in the ideals of rescue and have the patience to work through the screening process.
The application provides the exact details we need to make the right decision for each dog, and each potential forever home and is therefore absolutely critical to the adoption process. Such detailed screening is the only way that rescue organizations are able to ensure that their rescued dogs are placed in the loving, dedicated homes that they deserve.
After everything these dogs have been through before and after arriving to the organization, volunteers look for applicants who will not abandon their dog because of a move, a new baby, or just because they no longer have the time required to take care of them. After all, these are some of the most common reasons dogs end up in shelters and pounds in the first place.