Let’s talk about things to look for in a dog rescue, not things to look for in a rescue dog. We often talk about what we want out of a dog, which is incredibly important, but what about the things to look out for when selecting a dog rescue organization.
Of course, great dogs can come from any environment, but finding one with a lot of positive feedback and information can really help the transition from dog enthusiast to dog owner.
You’re going to need to have some good references as a potential adopter, but it’s good to see if your prospective rescue has positive reviews, too. A lot of rescues have Facebook pages with areas to give one to five stars as well as comments about their experiences. It’s also valuable to ask friends who have dogs, check out local dog organizations, ask your neighborhood vet, or even check out the dog park to see if anyone has rescued their dog from your potential rescue. You don’t need too many accounts of experiences with the rescue in question, but being able to ask a few people about the process and the people involved will give you a sense of whether or not it’s a good fit for you.
Lots of rescue sites and social media share success stories (#furryytailendings, #fosterfails, and the like if you’re the hashtag type) to celebrate happy pups in their new homes. Not only are these adorable stories with pictures of joyous dogs in their forever homes, they’ll give you a sense of the types of dogs and owners who are working with the rescue, as well as a good measure for how many matches they’ve facilitated.
A Rigorous Application Process
As much as you want to know about them, they should want to know about you. Including an application process with information about your lifestyle, your experience with dogs, your home, your plans for dog ownership, and so on, indicates that you’re serious about taking good care of a dog. They should care about that. The more detailed they are (within reason) with regards to checking your references, checking out your home, encouraging you to meet with the dog and the foster family (if applicable) the better. The more they know about you, the better they can serve you and the dogs in their rescue in terms of finding the best union.
Interest in the Dog’s Well-Being
If they’re just trying to move dogs from their rescue to a home of some kind, they might not be the best rescue for finding an ideal canine companion. When talking with the rescuers, you’ll get a sense of how much they care about the dog’s well-being by asking you questions about your lifestyle and matching it to certain dogs and not others. If you have a cat, they’ll make sure that you’re informed about their cat-friendly pups. Are you a busy person with a lot on the go? They probably won’t match you with a puppy. Beyond this, they’ll check in with you throughout the process (and after the adoption!) to make sure that things are going smoothly and that everyone is happy with things.
Lots of Information
Rescues are busy and underfunded and can’t always include elaborate write-ups about dogs on their social media and sites, but they should at least be able to give you a lot of good information about each individual dog if asked. Watch out for rescues with very generic information. If every dog seems to be perfect for all environments and lifestyles, ask some probing questions. Either they may be sugar coating things or they might have shirked the important process of getting to know their dogs. It’s better to get the full story, even if it disqualifies a dog from adoption than to find out that they don’t fit with you after the adoption goes through.
You should know what to expect from your dog, health-wise. You can’t tell what the future has in store, but your dog should be vetted, including up to date vaccinations and spaying/neutering if they’re of age. If any of this is waived, you should be very clear about it in your discussions and paperwork. Vetting a dog before adopting it is really important when it comes to knowing about pre-existing conditions.
No one likes parting with their hard-earned cash, but rescues need to stay afloat and caring for dogs can be expensive. Adoption fees cover food, vet care, travel, and the occasional treat or toy for the many dogs who are rescued. Also, charging a fee keeps away people who are likely to be adopting dogs for nefarious reasons, and you want to be working with a rescue that is aware of this. It’s an investment in the future of other dogs like yours!
These are some things to keep in mind, but it’s also important to find a rescue that fits your personality and your needs. You may just not quite gel with a rescue, so keep looking around. There are so many rescues and so many dogs in need of homes. You’ll find the dog for you, and the rescue organization for you, too!