Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be involved with some type of animal rescue organization? Are there things that you wish you knew about these types of organizations, yet you realize you don’t really know all that much about the way they operate? Perhaps you have the misconception that all animal rescues operate the same way that an animal shelter does. In reality, the two are different entities and in most cases, they are operated much differently.
The first thing that has to be made clear is that animal rescues and animal shelters do not mean one in the same. In fact, the term animal shelter usually refers to some type of municipal or county facility that is designed to house unwanted or lost animals. Unfortunately, most of these facilities are also known as kill facilities. In other words, the dogs that come into the facility and fail to be adopted in a timely fashion are euthanized, simply because no one came to get them in time. If you’re an animal lover, this is undoubtedly one of the saddest realities that you have to face.
Thankfully, animal rescues are usually not operated this way. In fact, that’s one of the reasons that non-traditional animal rescue facilities came into being. People couldn’t stand the fact that dogs were being euthanized at an alarmingly fast rate in these municipal facilities and some people made the decision to create their own animal rescues that would operate as no-kill facilities. This means that the animal will either stay at the animal rescue until it is adopted out or it will be fostered with an individual inside that person’s home. Regardless of what happens, the dog is not put to sleep and is able to live out its days in one location or the other. Obviously, neither one of these options are as good as being adopted to a forever home, but it is certainly better than the alternative of euthanasia.
There are a lot of different dog rescues that operate throughout the United States. Some locations have far more than others but even most rural locations have one or two that are operating, even if it isn’t on a formal basis. Dog rescues can encompass everything from the person down the street that everybody knows can take in a stray dog to to full-scale facilities that operate with a staff and utilizes grounds that are designed just for housing dogs. Typically, most dog rescues fall somewhere in between.
Maybe you want to know more about these types of rescues because you’re interested in helping out or participating in whatever way is most needed. Perhaps you are considering getting a dog and you want to get one from one of these types of facilities. Maybe you’ve even made a practice of getting your pets from these places in the past, yet you realize there are still some things you don’t really know about the way they operate. For whatever reason you might be interested, you can read about 20 things that you probably don’t know about dog rescues, provided that you keep reading through the list below. Some of them are undoubtedly going to surprise you, and others will be relatively obvious. If you love dogs and you want to help them, you already have every reason you need to keep reading.
1. They help combat pet overpopulation
You have probably heard that shelters help combat pet overpopulation by getting unwanted pets off the streets and then either spaying or neutering those pets before they can be adopted out. Dog rescues do the same thing. In fact, a lot of them actually have a veterinarian that is on staff, usually through a voluntary basis, that makes himself or herself available to deal with spaying and neutering, as well as treating animals that are sick or injured. In addition, these types of skilled professionals usually donate their time when it comes to helping animals that are living at dog rescues with certain medical needs that might be a of a more chronic nature.
2. They reduce the number of puppy mills
Puppy mills are terrible things. They force dogs to live in cages for the overwhelming majority of their lives. These dogs are lucky if they ever get to go outside of that cage, even for a few precious minutes. Unfortunately, the female dogs are forced to breed over and over again, even well beyond healthy breeding years. Dogs are also stuffed into cages until they’re practically stacked one on top of another. As you can see, this is definitely not the way that any dog should be treated. Just as regular shelters reduce the number of puppy mills, so to do dog rescues. How do they accomplish this? They do it in exactly the same fashion that any other shelter makes it happen. The more dogs that are adopted through their facility, the fewer dogs people are purchasing from pet stores, which commonly get their dogs from puppy mills. The lower the demand for these animals, the fewer puppy mills there are operating.
3. Rescue dogs are forever grateful
While you can’t possibly be assured of the way that any dog is going to act when it gets adopted into a new home, rescue dogs have a tendency to be far more grateful than most animals when they get adopted. If you’ve ever been around a dog that was adopted, you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the dog is fully aware that you saved her life. From that point forward, you and your dog will be forever linked together. If you’re really looking to adopt a dog because you want a best friend that you can share your life with, getting a dog from a rescue is one of the best ways to accomplish that. Most of these dogs have been through a lot and just having someone there to love them and show them compassion is usually all they need to start coming out of their shell.
4. Rescue dogs need experience
If you go to a dog rescue and you want to adopt a dog, the staff there is probably going to find out about your background first. Part of what they are looking for is whether or not you have any previous experience handling dogs. If so, what kind of dogs have you dealt with in the past? This is because they have a deep desire to match the dogs that are available with the right people so that those dogs can find loving homes for the rest of their lives as opposed to ending up in another shelter somewhere down the road. In some cases, the dogs have behavioral issues because they’ve been abused in the past or they might be more fearful of certain things because of their past experiences. As a direct result, it’s important for the staff at the dog rescue to know about your background so you don’t end up with a dog that is more of a handful than you are able or willing to deal with.
5. Animals at dog rescues may have special needs
Dog rescues frequently take in animals that have special physical needs. In some cases, they can’t eat regular food because of digestive issues. Some of them may have chronic illnesses such as cancer or diabetes and they require daily medication. Others have lost the use of their back legs and must use the equivalent of a doggie wheelchair in order to get around. Whatever the case might be, the overwhelming majority of animal rescues go out of their way to make a accommodations for these types of animals so that they won’t end up falling through the cracks. If the right person comes along with both the desire and the ability to care for those animals, they will typically allow that individual to adopt them. However, these animals usually stay at the dog rescue for their entire life because of their physical disabilities, as that makes it harder for them to be adopted out.
6. There is a little, if any, regulation
It’s already been discussed that dog rescues operate in all kinds of facilities. As such, there is very little regulation concerning these types of facilities. While there might be more regulation in a municipal dog shelter, a dog rescue that is operated out of someone’s home has virtually no regulation whatsoever. This is especially true if the dogs are not being adopted out under any circumstances. There are individuals that want to help as many animals as they can. If possible, these types of individuals thoroughly enjoy being able to adopt as many dogs as they can safely handle at one time, all in an attempt to save the ones in their immediate area that no one else wants.
7. Most operate based on donations
Some people that operate dog rescues do so out of their own pockets, but that can quickly become too much for just about anyone. More often than not, these types of rescues operate on donations alone. If needed, the person or persons responsible for running them will kick in money out of their own budget in order to make sure that every dog has whatever it needs. In some cases, even the staff gets involved, as running a dog rescue can become very expensive in a short amount of time.
8. You can volunteer
Most of the time, dog rescues have more volunteers than paid staff. In many cases, everyone there is a volunteer, largely because all of the money the rescue brings in is being spent on the dogs themselves. This doesn’t really leave any wriggle room for paying employees, so the overwhelming majority of people there are usually choosing to work with the animals on a voluntary basis. Many people will also tell you that this is by far one of the most rewarding volunteer opportunities they have ever experienced.
9. These rescues usually need financial help
If you already know that most of the organizations exist because of donations and you know that the people working there are volunteers because they can’t afford to pay a staff, it only stands to reason that most dog rescues are in desperate need of financial help. The sad truth is that many of these organizations operate on a month-to-month basis and in some cases, even week to week.
10. You can help by fostering an animal
If you really don’t have a lot of time to add another facility to your volunteer schedule or you don’t have the extra money to provide monetary donations, there is still another way that you can help. These types of rescues depend on foster families that can take dogs in and help train them, care for them, and show them love until they are adopted out to a forever home. This can be very difficult for people, as they usually get quite attached to the dog in question. Nevertheless, some people feel called to do this and as such, they will often foster two or three dogs at a time. If this is something you have considered doing in the past, it might be a good idea to check out the dog rescues in your area and find out more information.
11. These are not bad dogs
You have no doubt heard from someone at some point in time that all dogs that wind up in animal shelters or dog rescues are there because they have a problem. This could not be further from the truth. Nine times out of ten, it isn’t the dog that has the problem, but instead, the dog’s human. For some reason, people have a tendency to get dogs when they’re cute, furry little puppies and then they decide they don’t want them anymore when they grow up. Sometimes they get a dog because they think that the dog is going to magically take care of itself. When they find out that having a dog takes both work and patience, they don’t want them anymore. Please don’t blame the dog for the actions of the people they have no control over.
12. You can find purebreds there, too
You might be thinking that the only dogs you can find at a dog rescue are mixed breeds. For some reason, this seems to be a real sticking point for some people, as they have it in their heads that the only dogs worth having are purebreds. While that idea in and of itself is nothing short of ridiculous, it’s also important to recognize that it simply isn’t true. Roughly half of the dogs that show up in shelters and dog rescues are indeed purebreds that have been abandoned by their people.
13. More than half the dogs in shelters are put to sleep
This is one of the major reasons that dog rescues exist in the first place. This is a staggering number and it’s one that is absolutely heartbreaking to anyone who loves dogs. To make matters worse, most of the dogs that are put to sleep in shelters are actually well-behaved, healthy dogs. Many of them are very young, even puppies. They are simply killed because the shelter is overcrowded and no one came to adopt them in time. Dog rescues have set out to get the ones who fall through the cracks by adopting the dogs who are scheduled for euthanasia.
14. You might have to work through some trust issues with your pet
Dogs that come from dog rescues are fabulous pets and great friends. In fact, they make wonderful companions in almost any situation. However, they do sometimes need some extra patience and a little more work because they have come from some less-than-ideal situations. If they’ve been abused, abandoned or neglected, there’s every likelihood that you’re going to need to take a little extra time in order to work through some trust issues with your pet. Once she realizes that she can trust you, you’ll have a friend for life so all the effort that you put forth will be well worth it.
15. Mixed breeds are sometimes a better choice
Dog rescues will tell you that while they sometimes have purebreds available, it isn’t always about getting a better dog. Some people have the misconception that a purebred is always the superior choice. This simply isn’t true. In fact, mixed breeds are often less prone to certain health problems than purebreds. This is because purebreds are often prone to the same health conditions and when bred to another animal of the same type, the puppy gets a double dose of that particular gene. As you can see, this can sometimes produce a problem. On the other hand, mixed breeds usually are able to offset these particular genes because they’re gene pool doesn’t come from the same place.
16. The staff is usually over worked
Rescuing dogs is not an easy activity. Getting the dogs in the facility in the first place can be a lot of work, especially if they’re scared or injured. Once they’re there, the work never stops. The dogs have to be walked, fed, watered, brushed, and socialized. You also have to pick up after them. They need to have beds that are clean and soft and their food and water bowls need to be cleaned out on a regular basis. As you can see, this can add up to a lot of work. If there are 20 dogs at the rescue, all of this effort is multiplied 20 times over. Now take that knowledge and imagine what happens at a dog rescue that houses 200 or even 300 unwanted dogs.
17. There is an adoption process
Some people get the idea that they can walk into a dog rescue and just pick out the dog they want and leave with it because this is a facility that is taking in unwanted dogs so they should be happy to get rid of one or two, right? That isn’t usually the way it goes, nor should it be. In fact, the more reputable dog rescues have a very extensive adoption process. As previously mentioned, they want to know that dog is going to a good home so they aren’t going to just hand it over to the first person to walk through the door. In fact, adopting from a dog rescue can often be a more lengthy process than rescuing from a shelter because there are conditions in place to ensure that that dog gets to the right home. On the flip side, most of these rescues will also take the dog back if you find that for one reason or another, you simply can’t make it work. Remember, this should be a last resort.
18. About 90 percent of dogs end up in some type of shelter
That’s a staggering statistic. Out of all the dogs that are born, only about 10 percent end up in a loving home where they live their entire life. The rest of them either live out their lives in shelters or dog rescues, or they end up being transferred from place to place throughout their lifetime. It’s absolutely heartbreaking to think that for every 10 dogs that are born, only one finds that special someone that they can bond with for life.
19. There are all kinds of dog rescues
A lot of dog rescues cater to any dogs that are unwanted but there are all kinds in existence. Some of them even cater to specific breeds of dogs. If you want more specific examples, think about rescues that focus solely on Border Collies or the ones that only take in Pit Bulls. These rescues can be great when it comes to dogs that end up in an animal shelter and are not being adopted by anyone in the general public. In fact, a lot of Pit Bull rescues will scan the local animal shelters for abandoned dogs and take them in, in order to avoid them being euthanized.
20. Dog rescues are usually doing their best
It’s not easy to run a successful dog rescue. The thing that any person trying to do this has to remember is that it should always be about making sure the dogs end up better off instead of worse off. Operating a dog rescue is expensive, time-consuming and it’s hard work. It’s something that has to be done every single day, because there are no days off. However, if you really feel like you are that type of person, you might consider finding out what you need in your area to run a successful dog rescue. If you want to help but you don’t have time or the intestinal fortitude for that type of commitment, simply consider volunteering at a local rescue or fostering a dog. In most cases, you can simply drop off a few dollars or write a check for a bag of dog food and the people there will be grateful.