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Is Your Puppy A #RealRescue?

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We want to launch a movement: #realrescue. We consider it part of our mission to encourage people to adopt adult dogs and cats rather than puppies and kittens. Why? Mainly because adult dogs and cats need our help the most and may not make it without it. Puppies and kittens usually have no problem getting adopted, at least in our area. Another reason we like to see people adopt adult dogs is that many puppies up for “adoption” or “rescue” are actually the product of backyard breeders who like to take advantage of people’s desire to rescue rather than purchase their next pet. “He’s a rescue” is something many people want to say when someone comments on their dog. But many of those people also want a young puppy and/or a specific breed that is not often found in shelters. This has given rise to a profit opportunity for unscrupulous backyard breeders. Since most people begin their search for a new pet online, It can be difficult to tell the difference between a legitimate rescue organization who happens to have puppies available for adoption and a backyard breeder whose profit from the sale will encourage them to produce more puppies. We have also seen pet stores with signs out that say “puppies for adoption,”  when those puppies actually came from breeders.  We need to take back the words “rescue” and “adopt” by educating the public about what #realrescue looks like.  Here are some signs that should be red flags that this is not a #realrescue:

1, They do not interview you. Backyard breeders are making a sale. They focus on marketing the puppy and won’t ask you much, if anything, about your home, your family and your lifestyle. A reputable rescue will have you complete a detailed application and want to know who lives in your home and your history with pets. They will often want to do a home visit before finalizing the adoption. Don’t be offended by that. They want to make sure that the match is a good one. In contrast, a breeder, or someone working with one, will often simply meet you, take payment and hand you a puppy. If the process is that easy, an alarm should go off in your head. This is not #realrescue.

2. The puppy is under eight weeks, not up to date on shots and/or not spayed or neutered. In order to turn a profit, backyard breeders frequently sell puppies at too young an age, without all of their shots and unaltered. If you are offered a “rescue” puppy under eight weeks of age, without its shots and/or without being spayed or neutered, run. This is not #realrescue.

3. They do not give you a contract to sign stating that they will take the puppy back at any time for any reason. Any reputable shelter or rescue will have you sign an adoption  contract and one of the terms will be that, if you ever have to re-home the dog for any reason, you should contact them and they will accept the dog back.   A relationship with a backyard breeder is once and done. Once you take the puppy, they do not want to hear from you again (unless you want to buy another puppy). A relationship with a reputable rescue lasts a lifetime.

4. They provide no education about the dog and/or the breed. A rescue wants to know that the dog will be happy in your home and you will be happy with your new pet. They want to see you succeed and they will help by providing you some of the tools to make sure that happens. Responsible rescue organizations are matchmakers, not retailers, and they will want to make sure you know the basics of things like housebreaking and training. They will answer any questions you have and tell you about the behavior they have seen so far and give you tips on how to move forward from there.

Again, we encourage you to first consider adopting an adult dog because, not only do they need your help more, their personality is already evident and you can be more confident that he or she will be a good fit for your home. But, if you prefer to adopt a puppy, please use the tips above to make sure you are supporting #realrescue and not getting swindled by a pretender and unwittingly supporting a backyard breeder.

How to Help Shelter Animals on Social Media … Do’s and Don’ts

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If you’re reading this, you probably consider yourself an animal lover.   Maybe you’re even an animal advocate. Animals are your passion and you want to do what you can to reduce the number of companion animals euthanized or languishing in shelters. But how can you make a difference? Some ways to help homeless animals are obvious: adopt from a shelter or reputable rescue, talk to your friends about adoption, foster if you can, donate to nonprofit organizations you know and whose mission you support and report any suspected animal cruelty to authorities.   Social media is also a means through which millions of people try to help homeless animals. Sharing is caring, right? Well, maybe.   Social media has undoubtedly helped to find many homeless pets their forever homes. We are obviously big fans and share many of our shelter friends in an attempt to get them noticed. But, many social media posts and shares about animals accomplish little more than annoying your friends and followers while dulling them to the message of what they could really be doing to help homeless pets.

At the risk of offending some people, here is our list of “do’s” and “don’t”s for using social media to help shelter animals:

DO share animals that you or your friends know personally with honest descriptions of their personality, likes and dislikes. If they need a home without other animals or would be too high energy for small children, say it up front. Anyone serious about helping will need to know what kind of home would be best.

DO add your own comments or at least copy and paste the comments from the original post. Just hitting “share” is nowhere near as likely to attract any attention.

DO share happy stories and before and after photos. Show people that people just like them with kids, other pets, full time jobs and busy lives are finding time to volunteer, foster and adopt shelter animals.

DON’T say anything that sounds like any of the following: “somebody please save him,” “I would help but [fill in the blank] (“I have a full house”, “I live 1000 miles away”, “My dog hates other animals”, etc. etc.), These types of comments may make people feel better but they accomplish nothing and frequently crowd the comments section and bury the useful offers of help.

DON’T criticize the shelter staff for being “murderers” if the animal is in danger of being euthanized. The vast majority of shelter employees are caring individuals just like you and the last thing they want to do is euthanize an animal. They have likely reached out to no kill shelters and rescues with whom they have relationships and not found an appropriate placement. The post you are sharing is an attempt to reach out to the broadest group possible to find the right foster or adopter and criticizing them for doing it or acting as if they have a better option and are just not trying hard enough does not help.

DON’T say you pledge $10 or any other amount unless that is specifically what the person posting is looking for. In most cases, what is needed is a place for the animal to go and a few hundred dollars will not create that. In some cases, a foster home has been located and funds are needed for medical care but, if that is the case, the message will be clear and a link will be provided. When a temporary or permanent home is what is needed, vague, unenforceable pledges of money in Facebook comments are usually worthless.

Social media is a wonderful tool for connecting with like-minded people and for helping homeless animals find new families. Following these tips will help to ensure that your efforts are as productive as possible.