Evaluating a Dog Rescue Group

You have decided to get a new dog.  You have even decided to adopt either a puppy or an adult dog, and whether to get a purebred dog or a mixed breed.  Finally, you have decided to adopt from a rescue group.  Good for you!

Finding a reputable rescue group is much easier than it used to be before the internet.  Currently, most purebred clubs have a rescue component.  You can go to AKC.org, the home of the American Kennel Club, click on the breed club for the breed you want to adopt, and then click on their rescue group.  That rescue group will send you to a local group or to the closest place that has the type of dog you want.

What if you want a mixed breed?  Petfinder.org has pictures of thousands of dogs that are up for adoption.  You can look at the pictures and choose a dog, then contact the person with the dog.  They may be an individual with a dog, in which case you often get an unevaluated dog with possible health or temperament problems.  They may be a group.

Both purebred and mixed breed groups typically make extensive use of foster homes.  These homes house the dogs while they are waiting for adoption.  However, they ideally do more than that.  They evaluate the dog’s temperament to make sure he is not aggressive to people or other animals.  Foster homes take the dog to the veterinarian to get all their shots, get neutered or spayed, and get started on heartworm medication.  If the dog has a health problem, it is treated.  If it is a chronic problem, they should disclose that to you.  Finally, most foster homes will begin the process of house breaking and crate training a dog.  Depending on the age of the dog and how long he has been in the foster home, you may end up with a spayed or neutered dog that is in good health, has all his shots, is on heartworm medicine, is house broken and crate trained.  Of course, a puppy will not be completely housebroken or crate trained, but the process should have been started.

Most good foster groups have an application process that is fairly rigorous.  Beware a group that just hands you a dog.  They are likely to be amateurs who may not fully evaluate their dogs or provide adequate medical care for them.  Most good rescue groups require a fee that goes toward all the medical care the dog has been provided.  This fee almost never pays for all the medical care, but helps groups rescue other dogs.  It also serves as a test of your commitment to the dog.  If you are unwilling to undergo the application process and pay the fee, you probably do not need a dog at this time.  If you can’t afford the application fee, you probably cannot afford the dog’s annual food and veterinary needs.  Rescue groups are aware that the dog has been failed once, so they do not want to place him in a situation where he will be failed again.

This is what to expect from a good rescue group.  If you are not screened and asked for a fee, you should find another group.  If the dog does not have all its shots for the age of the dog, isn’t spayed or neutered (if old enough), and hasn’t been started on housebreaking, find another group.  Your dog will be with you for a decade or more if you are lucky.  It is worth it to take the time to locate a reputable rescue group to adopt from so life with your dog is as trouble free as necessary.