|South Bay Purebred Rescue places 500 dogs, of many breeds, each year out of 13 active foster homes in the busy Silicon Valley. We wish we knew the answers to prevent returns but there really isn't any solid answer. I have even looked the adopter directly in the eye and asked "So you realize you will have X number of years with this dog?" and have them answer with starry eyes "Yes!" and have them return the dog for some really ridiculous reason like "He won't play with my other dog". |
We don't do home checks anymore. We find it doesn't stop returns but it does stop long distance adoptions. Today I placed a 7 year old mini poodle to a wonderful (I hope) family in a town 3 hours away. If we did home checks this lady would have been turned down as all our volunteers work full time and no one could travel the 6 hour round trip to see her home. Mind you, I'm not saying don't do home checks. For those of you who can, please do it. It just doesn't change anything for us.
Some people who approach rescue are looking for a specific breed at a discounted price. We try to be sure they understand the breed they are looking for but how do you know if they are telling the truth? You just don't. Others have been turned down by shelters or other rescue groups and have learned what answers to give. Again, you just don't know.
We do the best we can. We hope we made good choices. We worry and we make follow-up calls on the ones that really touched our hearts but we can't call all of the new homes of all of the dogs we placed. If we made 2 calls each day to 2 homes it would take us nearly a year to call on all of last years adoptions and we wouldn't have time to deal with the new calls coming in for dogs, both who need rescue and from adopters wanting that dog.
We get between 20-30 returns each year. It sounds high but remember, we place 500 a year. A bouncy puppy got returned this week for being bouncy. It was a 3 lb Chihuahua. We were clear to the owner about the activity level of the pup but the pup was a little shy during the meeting and didn't display it's playfulness fully enough I guess. Anyway, she was back in 24hrs. Go figure. Good thing we didn't give them a lab pup!
Remember, for every return, you have also made a match that was perfect. That's what counts. And keep on keeping on. You'll never change the world but you'll make a difference to each dog and a whole lot of people too.
Question: Could I just call the shelter and tell them I have the dog?. If anyone calls or comes in looking for the dog, they have all the information. That way the dog doesn't have to go through the trauma of staying at the shelter.
That works well too IF the shelter workers have remembered to tell the owner about the book, or file where this info is kept. Some of the shelters in my area give good info and some are not so good. The dog in the shelter is still the easiest and fastest way to get the dog back.
Having lost my collie a few years ago, I can tell you from first hand experience, you run into the shelter and frantically go down the aisles, feeling hopeful at first, then more and more depressed as you near the end of the kennels and haven't found your dog. I have seen many people go through this "walk of hope" come out crying and unable to speak because they didn't find the dog and I have seen the kennel workers ignore them and never mention "the book" where the "kept in someone's home" dogs are listed. When you are that distraught, you forget to ask if there is any additional info that might help you.
Most of our shelters are no more traumatic than a boarding kennel and usually just as clean. (We have made a lot of improvements in the recent years). What is traumatic is if the dog is kept there for a very long period of time, or time is limited and the dog is taken to ER and euthanized due to lack of space. That is why we ask the finding party to call us with the impound number.
In California, there is a law stating all stray dogs must be kept alive and available for 5 business days. The day they are brought in does not count, nor do any days that the shelter is closed to the public. Also, part of the same law, states the dog must be turned over to rescue and NOT euthanized, if a member of a BONA FIDE rescue organization has put it's name against euthanization of this dog. Another reason for giving us the impound number.
In our county, (Santa Clara) and many of the neighboring counties, if you find a stray and keep it in your home, you must do so for 30 days, place a found ad (usually free) for each of those 30 days, notify all shelters in your area, and provide any medical care for life threatening illness or injury. During that 30 days, you cannot find a new home for the dog or give it away to anyone else, not even a rescue group. You may give it to a shelter where the rules are different.
If an owner comes forward, they are not required to give you a cent toward what you paid to keep their dog. If you have given the dog away prior to the 30 days, and the owner comes forward, you can and will be charged with theft. It was not considered your dog to give away prior to the end of the 30 days. (31 actually since the first day doesn't count).
All things considered, except in the cases of young puppies, the shelter is still the best place to reunite families.
<How can we help rescue efforts?>
I say find out something about the rescuer(s) you had in mind and then go directly to them (can be by phone or email, I guess) and see what they really need. Do you have any idea how many Friday nights our foster homes have tried to decide who to take to the Saturday pet fair and who gets left behind and misses a chance for a new family that day? Why is this? We don't have room in our cars for all the dogs and equipment we have to carry. It is wonderful when someone volunteers to drive dogs to and from the pet fairs (or vet, groomers and shelters) for us. It is even better still when they stay for the whole pet fair, walking, watering and calming the dogs while the rescuers devote their time to interviewing the perspective families without having to worry about the dogs.
Teachers: do your kids need community service hours? The well known and respected Rescue Organizations are nonprofit organizations 501(3)(c) status and as such can sign off your kids hours for them. All the kids have to do is show up at a pet fair and help care for the dogs for a few hours on a Saturday. Tough job huh? We couldn't live without our High School volunteers but once summer comes we lose them (except for the truly dedicated).
Those of you who work for large companies, you could help just by organizing a company blanket drive and then donating what you get to your favorite rescue. Do you have any idea how many blankets we go through yearly? We have to bleach the blankets between dogs so they wear out pretty fast (not to mention, the dogs that tear them up or the ones that get really gross stuff on them and we just toss out) We can always use blankets, baby blankets, sheets, towels and bath rugs. Always! (this is also a great project for students and scout groups)
Also for fun ways to raise money for your favorite rescue group, (and great for the kids too) how about a car wash or yard sale/rummage sale? You organize and run it then donate the profits to rescue. You will have had fun and made a difference in the lives of homeless dogs too!
Most rescue groups are spread pretty thin and ours doesn't have the extra time to plan and organize fundraisers as we are dedicating all our time to fostering, fixing up and placing dogs. We could always use energetic people to volunteer to do a fund raiser!
Sunny (San Jose, CA)
Stanzee (I'm a rescue foster that still lives with my foster Mom coz I was so cute that she never told anyone I was available!)
www.americanpetpro.com (grooming supplies)
www.sbprdogs.org (Dog Rescue)