segunda-feira, 8 de junho de 2009

The Whole Story on Rescue

Getting a dog through a good rescuer is a very good bet. However, people need to be aware that all rescuers are not equal. Rescuing dogs makes you feel good. There is a great deal of satisfaction in saving a life, in taking a dog from a bad situation and helping him into a happy home. It's a way we can feel we are giving back, doing good.

We all want to believe that rescue = good and in most cases, it is. But when it is done badly, it reflects poorly on all of us. There is no national organization that provides a certification process for rescuers, no universal code of ethics. Anyone can call herself a rescuer and many people with little experience with dogs - and none in rescue - do just that. Rescue attracts very, very capable people and some immature or psychologically damaged people. It's important to choose your rescuer before you choose your rescue dog.

Rude and unprofessional rescuers not only alienate the people they deal with, but every one of those people will tell others about their experience. "Good heavens, you don't want to fool with those rescue nuts. They're crazy!" Bad rescuers affect placement rates, credibility with the community and financial contributions for all rescuers.

This is not an attack. We are great believers in and supporters of rescue. Walt and I wrote the guidelines and did the original website for the national whippet rescue organization and we still do independent rescue when we're able. We also work closely with other rescuers on legislative issues and been on many, many rescue discussion lists.

Here are some common problems... We have seen every one of them in action.

1) Rescuers who believe "every dog can be saved." They take problem dogs from owners or from "kill shelters" that cannot make anyone a good pet without major retraining and behavior modification, which most rescuers are not equipped to do. They then adopt these dogs out... With predictable results. The dog either comes back to rescue for another stop in its long trail of unsuccessful homes or it ends up in a shelter and is finally euthanized after a lot of pain and disappointment along the way.

Some dogs need more time and effort than anyone is reasonably able to give them. In the six months it might take to rehabilitate one dog (and it may or may not be possible in the end), how many other deserving dogs could have been fostered and placed? Some dogs simply are "wired wrong" and will never, ever be good pets, regardless of training. These dogs should be humanely euthanized, and a rescuer who cannot recognize these cases and handle this hardest part of the job doesn't belong in rescue.

Incidentally, there is no such thing as a no-kill shelter. They may not kill the animals at the site, but what do they do with dangerous dogs? They either turn them away at the door or they send them to the city pound for euthanasia there.

Shelters that call themselves no-kill are those who only accept the most adoptable animals. There are some sanctuaries that offer lifetime homes for unadoptable pets, but they can only take so many. When they are full, the animals brought to them must be turned away... And are usually taken to shelters where euthanasia is acknowledged as a necessary, though unhappy, possibility.

2) Rescuers who hate people. They believe any potential adopter is an animal abuser trying to trick them out of a dog. These rescuers often have unreasonable demands in their contracts, applications and home visits. Their requirements for ownership are near impossible to meet.

There are rescuers who run credit checks and even demand to see a potential owner's tax returns and property tax notices - this last to be sure the person "really lives where he says he does." This is nuts. All of us want the best for the dogs we place, but those of us who are so distrustful of humanity that we are unable to deal with people in a reasonable manner don't belong in rescue.

Among the people-haters in rescue are those who believe "There are no bad dogs, just bad owners." You can't count on support from them because their attitude will be that you caused the problem.

A surprising number of rescuers are extremely rude to people who surrender dogs to them. In their minds, there is no good reason to give up a dog, and so the people who are attempting to do what's best for their dogs (by turning them in to rescue rather than dropping them off at a shelter or on the side of the road) are attacked for it.

And the next day at work, these folks tell everyone they know about how badly they were treated. 'If I had it to do again, I'd just take him to a shelter." What effect does that have on rescue in general?

Every owner-surrender should be viewed as an oppotunity to help two people (or two families) and one dog. A rescuer takes a dog from a situation that was not working out for whatever reason and places him in a better one for him.

3) A sad problem is rescuers who get way over their heads in the number of dogs they take in. These folks mean well, but cannot accept the fact that they can only do so much. Many of them are about two steps away from being hoarders. Most people who keep a number of dogs have an occasional mess, and their homes may not be ready for House Beautiful, but things shouldn't be out of control.

4) Unfortunately quite common are the rescue organizations do not keep dogs in foster care long enough to know much more about them than a shelter would. *Always* ask how long the dog has been living in a foster home. The answer should be in weeks, not days.

A dog goes through a "honeymoon" period in a new home. The first week or two, sometimes even for a month, he is insecure, just as you would be as a guest in the home of a stranger. Problem behaviors very often do not show up for several weeks. I can't tell you how many times we've gotten in a rescue dog and thought "How in the world did this dog end up in a shelter... She's perfect!" And three weeks later... Well, let's just say we begin to understand.

The reason many rescuers give for not keeping dogs in foster care longer is that "We have more coming in and have to free up the foster home." Well, in that case, they're taking on more dogs than they can handle. There is never an excuse to do rescue sloppily. People who pay rescue's adoption fee should be getting what they pay for, not just an extra stop between shelter and home. At the extreme, these organizations are just "resellers" taking dogs from shelters or owners and selling them to new homes.

[Escrito por Sharyn Hutchens em 17 de dezembro de 2005 para a lista Petdogs-L do Yahoo Groups]

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