Paula Nowak of New Rattitude, a Georgia-based Rat Terrier rescue group, finds that on-site events are also great opportunities to advocate for proper care of all dogs. “One big thing we educate on is the need to keep your dog on monthly heartworm preventative and get tested once a year. The one heartworm pill a month is much cheaper than treating them after the fact.”
How Does Breed Rescue Work?
When a purebred arrives at a shelter, a rescue coordinator will take identification photos and notify the appropriate breed rescue via email. Shelters that lack official rescue coordinators are often lucky to have passionate volunteers who are willing to post dogs on national websites and directly email or call the proper rescue organizations. There are also dog lovers informally known as “shelter surfers” who actively search for purebreds and contact rescues in hope that a dog can be helped. Sometimes they’ll offer to pull, transport and foster, or donate money toward the dog’s shelter pull fee, medical care or basic needs if that’s what’s required for the group to take in the dog.
“Shelters from all over the country contact us for help,” says Diane Sacripanti, founder of North Carolina Rottweiler Rescue. “They email the rescue with the information about the dogs they have needing help. We have never had to go to a shelter to look for our breed. The need for Rottweiler rescue is overwhelming. Due to lack of funds and foster homes, we turn away approximately 15 dogs per week.”
In some states, by law, a dog found as a stray must be held for five business days to allow the owner a chance to claim him, and when possible, shelters allow the rescue group a little extra time to find a foster home or temporary boarding facility. Most breed rescues rely on private individuals for temporary care of a rescue dog. The dog will stay in his foster home for a few weeks to give him a chance to show his true personality and to address any behavioral, medical or training issues he may have. He will also receive appropriate health care, including vaccinations, deworming, flea/tick and heartworm preventative and spay/ neuter if necessary.
“The most rewarding part of the job is watching your foster dog blossom under your care,” says Becky Orr, an experienced foster parent for Lab Rescue of the Labrador Retriever Club of the Potomac. “You take in a broken, scared, confused dog, and in several weeks you have a happier and healthier dog, ready to be adopted because of you!”
Prospective adopters fill out an application, provide references and allow a home visit, during which a volunteer from the breed rescue visits the home to ensure that it offers a safe environment for the dog. Once the prospective adopters have been approved and matched with a dog, they sign an adoption contract that requires the dog be returned to the rescue in the event they are unable to keep him for his lifetime.
For those with a specific type of dog in mind, several benefits come with adopting from a breed rescue. The foster caregivers will be able to share detailed information about the dog’s temperament, health, likes and dislikes. As mentioned, volunteers can also answer breed-specific questions and help ease the transition from foster care to the new home. Adopters also become part of a larger community comprising fellow adopters and rescue volunteers, and it’s not unusual for adopters to become dedicated volunteers.
In the dark ages of rescue, before personal computers and cell phones, 30-year Dalmatian rescuer Benji Brackman was not shy about using everything at her disposal to save one more spotted dog. “When I started a 501(c)(3) years ago, I begged all my Dal friends, employees, neighbors and other rescuers to help me out,” says Brackman, who founded Chocolate Chip Dalmatian Assistance League. Now, the Internet has completely changed the way rescue operates, allowing everyone involved to coordinate efforts to move a dog to safety within a matter of days instead of weeks, and reducing the risk of the dog being euthanized before the logistics can be worked out.