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.