What to Expect from Breed Rescue
By Kathy Nicklas-Varraso [kat...@world.std.com]
_Disclaimer:_ Every breed rescue has a different way of operating.
Since breed rescues are normally staffed by volunteers, and each
person has their own way of doing things, these descriptions may not
be entirely accurate in all cases. This was written to give a
prospective adopter a general idea of what to expect from Breed
Most people think that there are two ways to get pet: getting a "mutt"
from the pound, or going to a pet store and getting a pure-bred. A few
might add checking the newspaper for a "free to a good home" ad, or
for the occasional backyard breeder. With a little education, others
discover the responsible breeder and get a pet, either show quality or
However, there is another way to get a pet called Breed Rescue. It is
a way to get a dog, cat or rabbit that needs a good home, like at the
pound, while getting the known quantity of a purebred. By the way,
many of these terms are sweeping generalizations, as there are often
purebreds at the pound, and some breed rescue organizations also place
pets that are not purebred, but have most of the qualities of a
First of all, pets in breed rescue are not "misfits" and are usually
not defective in any way. They are usually placed in rescue through no
fault of their own. Common situations are that an owner dies or
becomes incapacitated, a new baby arrives in the family and the
previous owners feel they must give the cat or dog up, a move overseas
or across country, or people who got a pet without thinking about the
fifteen year plus commitment that pet ownership requires. In some
cases, a pet is placed because of an abuse situation, and special care
is taken before an adoption can take place.
A breed rescue volunteer normally takes the pet in, evaluates it for
adaptability, provides any necessary veterinary care, spays or neuters
the pet, and either places it with a family on the waiting list, or
places it in a foster home until adoption.
I'd like to take a few moments to go over some of these steps in
detail before going into getting a breed rescue animal. First off, the
dogs are always evaluated for adaptability. Known biters, aggressive
dogs or pets who are simply too ill to be adopted are not offered to
new families. "Borderline" pets are offered for adoption within strict
guidelines such as no children, no other pets, or fenced yards only
(dogs - cats are almost always adopted with an "indoor only" clause).
Dogs and cats are given any necessary veterinary care before adoption.
For example, in some parts of the country, heartworm is epidemic, and
a dog will need to be treated for heartworm and placed on preventive
medication before adoption. Cats should be tested for Feline Leukemia
Virus and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. In nearly every case, the pet
will be spayed or neutered before adoption.
Foster homes are responsible for caring for a rescue pet before it is
placed for adoption. Some breeds have little need for foster homes, as
they have a long waiting list of prospective adoptive homes, and few
being placed for adoption. Other more popular breeds have more calls
for pets than they can possibly rescue, and extensive network of
foster homes, and an adopting family may even have their choice of
animals. (The first situation usually applies to breeds that are not
quite so popular, and that have not been "discovered" by backyard
breeders and puppy mills.)
Why would you consider a rescue adult instead of a puppy or kitten?
Well, first off, for dogs you'd usually get an adult whose chewing
phase, housebreaking phase and general puppy wildness are gone. Your
dog may come pre-trained, and might even know a few tricks. Adult cats
are more laid-back and are often more affectionate. Many are already
declawed, and most males are neutered as people are more likely to
neuter their male cats than their male dogs. You would know exactly
how big the dog or cat would get, and would have a good idea of the
individual personality. Last, but not least, you would be giving a
deserving dog or cat a good home.
Very rarely, Breed Rescue gets a kitten or puppy, sometimes from a
family that made a wrong purchase, sometimes when a pregnant female
with a litter is surrendered. If you would accept a kitten/puppy, let
the rescue person know that. Usually, breed rescue will get pets that
are just past the "cute puppy/kitten" stage. So, you'd still have lots
of growth time left in your rescue.
_Note:_ Greyhound Breed Rescue is a special situation, which is
different than the breed rescue for other dog breeds. In most cases,
the dogs are greyhounds with a racing past that have stopped winning.
These greyhounds have been turned over to a greyhound rescue
organization by their trainers, instead of having the dogs killed.
Obviously, these dogs do not have a "Pet past." If you are interested
in a greyhound, a greyhound specific breed rescue can give you loads
of information on greyhounds as pets.
How do you find Breed Rescue for your preferred breed? Start by
calling local shelters and see if they are "breeder friendly." They
may be able to recommend someone to you. Next call local vets and see
if they know of any rescue groups. Often they will have at least one
client who has a rescue dog, and that one client can lead to rescue
groups of other breeds as well. If you have access to the internet,
that may be the easiest way to get information on your breed of
choice, as well as breed rescue.
A great place to start for dog rescue is the excellent FAQ (Frequently
Asked Questions document) written by Janice Ritter, which lists breed
rescue contacts for nearly every breed of dog. (This FAQ can be found
in the Usenet newsgroups rec.pets.dogs.info and news.answers) Even if
the breed rescue listed for your breed of dog is not close to your
home, contact them anyway. Most rescue contacts have a list of all
other contacts (for that breed) in the US and Canada. There is also a
World Wide Web page called Save-A-Pet On-Line that lists breed rescue
organizations and shelters around the country.
The Usenet newsgroup rec.pets.dogs.rescue or rec.pets.cats can also
provide leads, and a posting will likely get you a prompt reply with a
local contact. Breed Clubs for a particular breed often have rescue
contacts as well. There is also a directory called Project BREED,
which lists rescue contacts all over the US and Canada. The directory
can be found in larger libraries, or borrowed through inter-library
loan. Lastly, most reputable breeders have contacts for breed rescue
(at least for their particular breed).
What should you expect when adopting a rescue pet? When you initially
contact the rescue person, be prepared to answer a whole lot of
questions. You'll be questioned about your lifestyle, your family, and
your schedule. Every adult member of your family may be questioned
about what they expect from a pet, and if they really want a dog or
cat. This is not done to offend you. The rescue person is asking for
two reasons; first, to match you to the most suitable pet, and second,
to make sure that your home is an appropriate one for the breed you
want. Often people want a breed solely because of its looks, not aware
that its personality is completely opposite from what they want! A
rescue pet has already been torn away from at least one home, and
breed rescue is doing all they can to make sure that it never needs to
go through that again. A responsible breeder will ask you many of the
same questions. (In fact, many breed rescue volunteers are also
The breed rescue contact may come and conduct a home visit. S/he will
contact your landlord (if you have one), and make sure that s/he is
amenable to the idea of your having a pet. Breed rescue will sometimes
not allow placement to undergraduate students, or anyone else without
a permanent address. All of this is to make sure that each pet is
given every chance at a stable, loving, permanent home. (If you are a
student, I'm sorry. This is not to reflect upon you personally, but is
a result of the experience of breed rescue workers, shelter workers,
and others who have had to take in many animals each spring when
school ends for the summer, roommates split up, and no one wants the
pet, or housing becomes too difficult to find.)
In all likelihood, you will NOT get papers with a rescue. This does
not mean that the animals is not a purebred. It is meant to stop
unscrupulous people from registering a pet under a rescued pet's
registration. (Your rescue dog cannot have a litter, because it is
spayed or neutered) However, if you rescue a dog you can apply for an
ILP (Indefinite Listing Privilege), which will allow you to compete
with your dog in AKC Sanctioned Agility and Obedience events. Rescue
and mixed-breed cats can be shown at most cat shows in the "House Hold
Pet" (HHP) division.
You will have to pay an adoption fee for your pet. This will usually
be more expensive than the adoption fee charged by a pound, but less
expensive than buying from a breeder. This fee is charged to cover the
spaying/neutering costs, medical expenses and other rescue related
expenses (Like the cost of obtaining the pet from a pound, food while
in foster care, advertising, phone calls, cost of travel, etc.)
One thing to keep in mind is that the adoption fee is not necessarily
reflective of the expenses related to your particular pet. Breed
Rescues get some pets that have expensive medical problems. They have
to foster pets for a long period to time, which costs money. Sadly,
some do not live through the entire process (often the case with
heartworm infection in dogs), but their veterinary bills still need to
be paid. I have never heard of a breed rescue organization that did
not lose money. So, your adoption fee probably will not cover all the
adoption related costs. (All rescue organizations will gladly accept
So you've spoken to the rescue person, filled out the application, and
been interviewed? Usually, at this point, you wait. Keep in touch with
the rescue person from time to time, to keep you in her mind when a
suitable pet comes in. Read books about your particular breed, and if
you are getting a dog check out the obedience classes in the area. Try
to be patient - the process is very much like adopting a child.
When you get the phone call, you can come and meet your new family
member. Take it slowly, it might take several visits before you take
your pet home for good. Keep in mind that the animal has been through
a whole lot of stress, and may not be showing at his or her best.
However, I can guarantee that the breed rescue person has thoroughly
checked everything and has made a careful decision to place you with
that particular pet. The next step is to fall in love! (Sorry, can't
help you there)
In closing, I'd like to encourage you to think about a rescue pet when
you decide to add a pet to your family. If you're just looking for a
pet, (like most of us) consider giving a home to one that is
pre-owned. It's not only the right thing to do, it's a very smart
thing to do.
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