Dog Rescue: Is it Right for You?

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Dog Rescue: Is it Right for You?

Dog rescueEver had a hankering for a certain breed of dog? Not an obsession, mind you – not the sort of longing that would send you rushing to a breeder, thousand-dollar-bill in your sweaty palm – but just a gentle appreciation for the virtues of the Poodle, Pug or Pyrenean Mastiff?

Let’s say you have — but you thought buying a purebred pup was a less-than-ideal use of your family’s resources. If that’s the case, it might be time to look up your local Dog Rescue organization! Dog Rescues are organized by breed, so prospective parents can sign up to be notified when new poodles or pugs come in.

What’s the advantage of adopting a rescue dog, instead of a breeder pup? A rescue dog isn’t always cheaper than the breeder’s (though it usually is). The main difference is this: your money equals a new life for a dog that completely lost out on his first roll of the dice.

How do I adopt a Rescue Dog?

Dog rescue organizations are volunteer-driven, and loosely organized. Your best bet is to “Google” for the one nearest you, using the breed name. So poodle lovers can search for “Poodle Rescue” or “Poodle Rescue Florida,” if they live down south.

Once you find an organization, you’ll want to apply as an adoptive parent. This may involve a down payment. It also usually involves a form in which you describe your history of animal ownership, and supply references. You’ll provide some information on your beliefs about dog discipline, your house and yard, and where you plan to keep your newest family member.

The dog rescue foster moms and will want to talk to you in person, too, to get a feel for your compatibility with their particular pup.

What will I pay for a Rescue Dog?

On average, you’ll pay between $200 and $300. If you thought “rescue” adoption was cheap, this might seem like a lot, but the fact is it simply covers basic procedures to bring the animal back to health. Most dogs arrive at the Rescue with skin problems, tartar-coated teeth, out-of-date vaccinations, possible parasites and other issues.

How will a Rescue Dog differ from a breeder or pet store dog?

In a number of ways. Your new adoptee is likely to be:

Older. Few dogDog rescues are rescued as puppies. A few are ‘adolescent.’ The vast majority are middle-aged.

Cautious. Your adoptee may have a lot of fear and yes, grief, to process. If he felt like a part of his former family, he may be grieving his sudden “ejection.” He may need time and patience to take an interest in food, play, or his general surroundings. If he was starved or kept isolated, he’ll need time and patience to learn to socialize.

“Readable.” Buying a puppy means taking a wild guess at the eventual adult. When you rescue a grown dog, you get a much better idea of his personality. It’s easier to make the perfect match.

Am I the right type of owner for a Rescue Dog?

An important question! You, the owner, are the last and most crucial link in a chain. The chain’s only purpose is provide a “happily-ever-after” for a dog that desperately deserves one. Can you be that happily-ever-after, even for a dog that may have some rough edges?

Ask yourself these questions:

Do I really care what color the coat is, what sex it is or how many pounds it weighs? If so, you really want a puppy from a breeder, not a rescue. Rescue dogs rarely conform to an exact type.

Am I looking to save money?

You may not save money buying a rescued dog, even though the initial cost could be $700 or $800 less than from a breeder. Rescue dogs often need more medical care because of the abuse and neglect they suffered before.

Is my life relatively stable and my household relatively quiet? All abused creatures, whether dog or human, crave and need an unusually organized household. Many people can be good parents to a rescue dog. But perhaps the best potential parent of all is an older person or couple whose children are grown, and who has time and patience to devote to the dog’s mental and physical healing.

Dog rescueCan I provide regular medical care and regular grooming? The deepest wish in the heart of the Dog Rescue folks is each of their dogs never has to go through another minute of hunger, discomfort or pain again.

When dogs are starved, they sometimes have incontinence problems that heal only slowly. They may need more regular teeth cleaning than a continually cared-for dog. Some need a house training refresher when former owners didn’t bother. Most were never clipped or groomed, even in the non-shedding breeds. Do you have the time and resources to keep your dog totally safe and comfortable?

Can I consider the need and adopt a boy rescue, or an older rescue? For reasons not entirely clear, many potential adopters go
for girl dogs. There’s no logic to this: all rescue dogs are spayed or neutered, and boys are as intelligent, witty, loyal, well-behaved and loving as their female counterparts. Perhaps it’s just that the rescue impulse leads us to think of “damsels in distress”!

At any rate, that adorable boy that needs a home really deserves your attention. Someone less educated might pass him by for reasons they don’t fully understand.

The upshot is, a rescue dog can make the best pet you’ve ever had. He understands exactly what you’re giving him, since he didn’t have it before. Your newest family member will offer you an overabundance of loyalty for the rest of his days.

How can I help with Dog Rescues?

Dog Rescues are always looking for help. Of course, they need financial contributions, and kennel and medical supplies. They also need ‘foster moms’ who perform the difficult task of patiently rendering a dog adoptable, then giving it up to its final owner! So if you have skills in this area and want to help, contact the small and amazing group of volunteers that make up your local Dog Rescue.
Blake Kritzberg is happily Mom to a rescue dog, and
proprietor of former site Poodle-oo.

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About Brigitte Smith

Brigitte Smith is an entrepreneur with a love of dogs and a healthy lifestyle. Brigitte is passionate about holistic health alternatives for dogs, most of which are today suffering foreshortened lifespans in the wake of a lifetime diet of commercial pet food, and further contributed to by unnecessary over-vaccination and chemicals and poisons applied topically and internally. is one of Brigitte's sites dedicated to dog health, and in particular dog food reviews.

7 thoughts on “Dog Rescue: Is it Right for You?

  1. Gale

    You cannot equate all rescues.

    Dogs at a shelter who were brought there by people who can no longer care for them are rescues, especially if they were in line to be euthanized. These dogs are usually trained to some level, and within a short time will become a member of the family.

    Puppies bought at a pet store are a form of rescues from a puppy mill; they may have some “personality” problems, but they will have health problems.

    Older dogs taken from a puppy mill who were used in the breeding process are another form of rescue.. they have trust issues, fear/aggression issues, are not or no longer potty trained, and may have health problems.

    I took in a puppy mill breeding stock dog in November. He was not toilet trained, had no ideas where his back legs were, and his nails were so long with the quick at the end. He was terrified to get into the car, terrified to go out the front door, hated being touched and had to be carried out to the yard… Now, 6 months later, he does stairs like an athlete, loves to go in the car (even climbs in himself), and he now socializes like a pro, and loves women like all Cavalier boys do. He has even learned to play, and his special toys are those he steals from the cat. He has some health issues, but so far they are manageable.

    He heels beautifully beside me, even off lead, and has an almost perfect stay. He will be starting classes soon, and I am sure he will be getting his CD once I get some certification of his purebred status.

    He is the kitten’s protector and victim. He protects her and she takes food from his mouth and he lets her.

    Taking in a puppy mill stock rescue takes a special kind of person who knows how dogs think, how they react to positive/negative reinforcement, punishment and correction, and how to get them to trust you. Not everyone has those skills, and that is why a lot of these dogs end up back at the shelter.


  2. Brigitte Smith

    Great comments, Gale.

    Thanks so much for these invaluable insights and input.


  3. Oneilljk


    So glad I found this article. My girlfriend and I are looking into adopting a dog soon and this answered many of my questions around rescues. I grew up with Irish Terriers – long standing tradition. While they are such a great breed – and incredibly fun – they are also expensive are hard to find. Afraid we might need to break from tradition unless we can find an Irish Terrier rescue within 500 miles of the Bay Area.


  4. Marilyn

    Hello Brigitte

    on the subject of pound dogs in todays blurb … hmmm. I’m of mixed mind about it. Let me tell you my experiences.

    I rescued a lovely female cattle dog, she ran up to me at the pound with a tennis ball in her mouth and dropped it at my feet, tail wagging and smiling as if to say Please take me home! I asked about her temperament, she had been with them for about two weeks, “tested thoroughly,” but little of her history was known. we got her home and she was a truly lovely dog …. with humans. With everything else she was a terror!! Killed all the neighbours chickens. terrorised our guinea pigs. chased everything that moved ….. every small dog was fair game for her, she was viscous! We couldn’t send her back to the pound (altho in retrospect this would have been the right thing to have done), so we advertised for a free home and told the new owners all her faults. They lived in an area where there were no small animals, and she adored going in the car which they wanted. Several weeks later we got a call to say they had to put her down by order as she had bolted out the gate one morning and attacked a blind man walking with his helper-dog. ….

    Second story.
    I contacted a breed specific rescue organisation who rescued a certain breed from all over Australia. I figured if anyone could tell the true temperament of a dog, then surely a breeder. This is a much happier story, and the dog we have now is a lovely boy, 6 years young and rescued from a pound. Lots of reasons he could no longer live with his owner … all known to the breeder, who contacts the previous owners and lets them know the dog is being rehomed and gets a full picture of his life before the pound …

    Moral of the story …. yes, rescue dogs if that is what you feel to do. I too feel it is such a tragedy to put to death so many lovely animals. But the history of a dog is very important to know, the “thorough testing” given to dogs when they find themselves in a pound is not a true indication of their natures, how could it be! …. I would totally recommend that people wanting to rescue a dog go to one of the many rescue associations around. My boy Billy came with a back – up crew of people who cared for him and knew his breed and nature, they knew his “story”, a walking harness and lead, free bag of dog food, advice about his care and feeding. Same price as a pound dog … but so much more. I still send them pictures and up-dates!!

    thanks for the info Brigitte, hope you found this helpful and/or interesting as well.

  5. Brigitte Smith

    Hi Marilyn,

    How very sad your first experience was (particularly for the poor dog).

    History certainly does play a part, and knowing the history can certainly help you know how to deal with and train a particular dog.

    A flair for training would also help, as many dogs with behavioral problems can be retrained by the right person. Some traits are fairly ingrained, though, as difficult to address.

    Thanks for sharing your two very different experiences.


  6. Robyn Couch

    Hi. I have had 5 rescued Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. The 1st one I knew as a puppy and in fact named him. Zac’s people were moving into a retirement home. He had arthritis as a puppy but I was not told of this.
    I got my 2nd rescue Cav from a Pet Rescue web site. Winston was blind in 1 eye and soon had arthritis as well.
    I got Lily from her breeder. She was one of many dogs that had been caged and left in a shed. Lily was terrified of people. She had been bred from twice/year. When I got her speyed I found that she had cancer. The care I gave her after her surgery allowed her to start trusting people. Lily became the first accredited pet therapy dog outside of Melbourne (in Victoria, Australia). Zac was put down.
    Winnie was getting very sore and was about to be put down so I looked on a website and got Manny from another breeder and shower. Manny had not been socialised with other dogs and so needed alot of work in that area. He went for and bit any dog that came near me. After awhile he has settled down and become another accredited pet therapy dog.
    4 months ago I got Holly from a web site. She was looking for a good home after having 2 litters. Holly is now learning to be a pet therapy dog and is loving being with people.
    I can only reccommend that people look at rescuing dogs. They have alot of love to give to the right person.

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