Monday, April 14, 2008

A bit more soapbox

By Nicole
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Sorry for another soapbox post, but I received the following comment on the last post and I felt it needed to be addressed:

Sorry, but I'll pass on the "rescue" movement. I know people who have gotten tied up in that stuff -- they become attached to the dog and then have to suffer the indignity of ten-page applications with references, in-home inspections and visits with the animal, hundreds of dollars in fees, and in some cases outright denial -- because you have CHILDREN! Not because an abused animal might harm the child, but because the child MIGHT HARM THE DOG! As if!  Better to stay away from the psychos who coordinate specific-breed rescues; their focus on a particular niche allows them to obsess. Go to the ASPCA or Humane Society where they trust you when you take an animal home, or to a breeder who pours his/her whole existence into producing the best animals available. (As for "puppy mills," that's usually a pejorative term employed by people who would rather make up your mind for you about where you should get your dog, although of course abuses do occur.)  Of course, there are is a whole spectrum of experiences and yours has been positive. That's good. On an individual basis, though, I've found the rescue movement to be a noble but ultimately misguided pursuit.


As my experience has been first hand and with multiple rescues, I'm first calling foul on your overexaggeration of the adoption application process.

I can't imagine that anyone who is serious about a dog would have a problem with the rescue wanting vet references and to make sure that you're going to keep the dog in the correct environment. I do understand that there's a process, but from the rescues standpoint, they're trying to ensure the dog goes to a loving home. I guess I feel that if you want the dog that badly, you'll have no problem waiting.

Rescues are filled with owner-surrender dogs, meaning people adopted/bought them and decided they didn't want them anymore. The point of what you refer to as indignity is meant to ensure that this dog does not end up back at a shelter or rescue, but has indeed found a forever home.  People tend to buy/adopt animals on a whim and do not understand the undertaking. That's why every year in the weeks following Easter you see news stories about places being overrun with bunnies that people bought for Easter baskets, didn't understand what they were getting into, and gave the bunny away to a shelter.

A rescue is focused on the dog, not on the adopting family. In my specific case, basset hounds come with their own set of issues that need to be addressed before a family takes one on. They drool, they counter cruise, they follow their noses and therefore need to be on a leash or in a fenced in yard at all times. Potential adopters need to be aware of these needs so that they don't get surprised by the dogs actions', get fed up with them, want to return them, or have the dog run away.

There are fees involved in adopting from rescue. Each dog that is brought in is given it's full set of vaccinations and shots. They are treated for the illnesses that are common with dogs who have been in the wild, been neglected or left in a kennel or shelter too long. They are also fixed so that no one can purchase them for breeding and because there are too many dogs out there to begin with. All these things cost money and the adoption fee is one way a rescue recoups it's losses. They are non-profits and are run solely on the adoption fees and fundraising money raised throughout the year. Many, many people involved with rescue do so with their own out-of-pocket money. Foster families do not get money to feed or take care of their dog.

I think it's incredibly naive to think that a child would not do harm to a dog. Most children have no experience around animals and that is a dangerous situation for the dog and the child. Neither of them has the logic or understanding we do and therefore the child treats the dog like a toy and the dog, especially one who's been abused, is used to protecting itself. This is just asking for trouble. Some dogs are accustomed to children and are much better in these environments. This is part of the reason rescues use foster families to help evaluate how a dog may handle certain situations such as children or other dogs.

I guess I'm not sure why you think breeders "who pour their whole existence into a dog" are correct in your eyes, but rescues who focus on a breed are "psycho."

I'm also not sure why you put so much credence in breeders "producing the best animals available." Unless you're part of the about 2% of the dog owning population that shows dogs, this is unnecessary and scarily elitist. I'm trying not to extrapolate from this sentence because I don't know your true feelings, but to me that's a

It's clear to me that you have not had experience with the harm and damage that people do to dogs and therefore have a basic belief in the goodness of people who are looking to adopt. Having worked with malnourished, abandoned, abused and forgotten dogs, I no longer have that rosy eyed view and I don't think that rescues who have seen the worst of what people do to dogs should be called "psycho" for wanting to ensure these dogs have the best possible life from here on out.

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