Rescuing is a Tricky Business

I have learned a LOT over the last year and a half, since becoming a volunteer with Last Hope Rescue. I have written a post before about what you should know about a rescue and how it runs, based on my own personal experiences. You can check that out here, if you missed it.  I think it is important to share knowledge…maybe I will help someone understand an important part of rescue, and inspire them to become more involved. Maybe someone will share their experiences, and I will learn something, too!

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Since taking on my first foster, I have had my first (and last) foster failure; checked, and approved or declined many adoption applications; done lots of meets & greets, and finalized a handful of adoptions. I have also become a board member, which means I get to be a part of helping making decisions for the rescue, what dogs we pull, the money that we spend, etc. Don’t get me wrong…this doesn’t mean that I am special, that I know everything, or anything like that. I am only explaining how I have come to learn the things I’ve learned about rescue. And now, I thought I would share some of that with you. 

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First and most importantly, do not EVER list your dog on Craigslist for free. Always request a rehoming fee, even if it is $25. Evil people looking for bait dogs, research dogs, and just dogs to harm in general, troll Craigslist looking for free pets. It does NOT matter the breed, the age, or the size. Many times, these people will send a female, sometimes even with children, to pose as a family looking for the pet. Please know, there are bad people out there, and they will take your dog and harm it. This is not always the case…but why risk it? Instead, reach out to local rescues and humane societies. If you have no luck that way, turn your dog into the shelter. At least then they will have a chance of getting adopted. And if the worst happens, at least the pet is put to sleep instead of abused, neglected, and murdered. Seriously, if you can’t keep your dog for whatever reason, the least you could do is help make sure he/she is placed in a safe, happy home. If you still insist on listing your dog on Craigslist, then charge a rehome fee, check a vet reference, and do a home visit. Usually if the person is looking for a pet for malicious reasons, they won’t go through those three steps.

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Another thing to remember is that most rescues are run by volunteers. Volunteers who work full time jobs, and have families of their own. Many rescues are based out of foster homes, which means there is no facility. Keep this in mind when you are sending emails, posting on their Facebook page, and calling their personal cell phone numbers, looking for a dog, asking for assistance, etc. Unfortunately our society has become accustomed to instant gratification. So many times, we get people who contact us multiple times before we can even reply once. Sometimes we even get attitude from people, accusing us of taking too long to get back to them. It is our policy that we will get back to you within 48-72 hours. We do our best to follow this policy, and we understand your urgency. But every now and then, it is a holiday and we are trying to enjoy time with our family. Or we are inundated with inquiries because we’ve just brought in a highly adoptable pup. Or we are doing something for our “real jobs” (meaning the ones that pay the bills). Please remember, patience is a virtue.

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One of the biggest things I have learned, is that there is a method to the rescue madness. We get so so so many emails and phone calls from people, asking us to help their dog. Whether it’s a volunteer that’s fallen in love, a Good Samaritan who saved a dog, a shelter that’s making a final plea, or a member of the community wanting to rehome their pet…there is only so much we can do, and it really sucks to tell people that we can’t help. We will courtesy post a dog, if it meets our requirements (up to date on vaccines & fixed), so that we can at least help get the dog exposure, and assist with the adoption screening process. As far as the dogs that the rescue does pull, there are many factors that go into this. First and foremost, we pull dogs according to the available foster homes. Puppies are easy to pull because they are generally always dog friendly. The majority of our fosters all have dogs, so this is a must. Sometimes shelters are able to get their dogs sponsored. This is a great benefit to a rescue, because it means a portion of the pup’s vetting is taken care of. Also, if the rescue has some long timers that aren’t going anywhere and don’t get any inquiries, this greatly affects the dogs that are brought in. There has to be funds coming in, and adoption fees are a small portion of those funds. The longer a dog is in the rescue, the more expensive they are. Remember, we take care of vetting, monthly flea and heartworm preventative, food, sometimes boarding, and anything else that comes up. So, sometimes the rescue has to assess if the dog is considered urgent as well as highly adoptable, and healthy. These are just SOME of the factors that go into how a rescue decides which dogs to save. There is a fine balance that has to be found, and maintained, for a rescue to be successful. It is important as volunteers, vendors, supporters, and adopters to remember this. There IS a method to our madness, even if you don’t understand it all the time.

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As someone that volunteers in the local shelter, and follows pages of surrounding shelters, I fall in love with dogs on a regular basis. It doesn’t take much for me to fall in love. Big ears, a goofy looking block head, sweet soulful “save me” eyes, or a gray haired senior muzzle. I have networked for many, many dogs, but I have only ever asked Last Hope to save two dogs. Two dogs whom I was willing to foster, and was committed to until they found their forever families, no matter what. Those pups were Lola and Apollo. Oddly enough, those two dogs are the only two that I would have considered adopting (aside from Oscar, who I was already adopting before he stepped foot in my house). I wonder if the reason I loved them so much was because I felt completely responsible for their lives. I absolutely love and adore ALL of my foster dogs, but Lola and Apollo were extra special to me. This is to say, that even us rescue folks fall in love, and want to help every dog in need. It hurts our hearts to know that a dog will be put down because we couldn’t help. But we just can’t help every one of them. So, we will keep trying, keep rescuing, and keep asking for support. Hopefully we will continue to save dogs, and bring happiness into people’s lives through our adoptables, for a very long time…

All of the dogs in this post are adoptable through Last Hope Rescue. They are all special and unique in their own way, but the one thing they have in common with each other…they are dreaming of finally being in a forever home, as part of a family. Please contact us at LastHopeRescueFL@gmail.com, or comment below, if you would like to meet any of these wonderful pups!