Sunday, July 29, 2007

Rescue 101

I am a volunteer for German Shorthaired Pointer Rescue. Although I will provide some "general" information in this blog, the real life examples provided come from my personal experiences as a rescue volunteer, and experiences relayed to me by my rescue colleagues.

The word "rescue" often brings to mind dogs that have been neglected, abused, live in deplorable conditions, etc. While this is occasionally the case, very often, "rescue" dogs are family pets whom the "family" no longer wishes to keep. Perhaps the family purchased a puppy, without consideration for the amount of time it would take to train and care for the dog. Or, they have had another baby, and no longer have time to dedicate to the demands of owning a dog. Sometimes, the "parents" are divorcing, moving, and will no longer have a place in their lives for their once beloved pet. These newly unwanted dogs are either surrendered to a municipal shelter or humane society, or, the family contacts a rescue group for assistance in locating a new home. (More on the "surrender" process in a future post.)

Generally speaking, rescue organizations are manned solely by volunteers. There is no monetary compensation for the work they do. (There are exceptions to this rule, as in the case with large, multi-breed rescue groups who have shelter facilities, staff, etc. )

There are rescue groups for almost every recognized breed of dog, cat, mixed breed dogs, etc. Many of them have local (often statewide) organizations. Volunteers network with one another across their "coverage" area, and often nationwide. The goal is to rehome dogs who have been displaced, are in shelters in danger of being euthanized, etc.

Most rescue groups have volunteers who foster dogs in their home until a suitable home has been found. This can take days, weeks, or months, depending on the age of the dog, their exposure to children, level of training, health, etc. Foster homes are ALWAYS in short supply, and most rescue groups agonize over having to leave dogs in shelters when there are no available foster homes at a given time.

The number of purebred and mixed breed dogs in shelters across the country is staggering. Even more disturbing is the number of such dogs who are euthanized each day, due to shelter overcrowding and a lack of funding. So many unwanted little time...