Over the past decade, breed rescue groups have become
a major force in dog adoptions. These rescue groups
limit their effort to a particular breed of dog including purebreds. This is a help to people who want a certain
breed of dog but can’t or won’t use breeders.
To make the best use of a rescue group, however,
there are a few things to keep in mind.
1. Watch out for scams.
Some wholesale breeders and brokers who can’t meet
federal and state laws advertise themselves as “rescue” organizations. Crooks have even collected money for
non-existent rescue groups.
Unlike animal shelters and local humane societies,
rescue groups usually do not have storefronts. They are
a collection of breeders and breed fanciers who perform
their services from their homes.
Ask any rescue group if they are incorporated or
registered as a nonprofit group in your state.
The best way to find a rescue group is to go to the
American Kennel Club’s (AKC) website at http://www.akc.org
and search under the breed you’re interested in getting.
If no rescue group is listed, contact the national breed
club and ask for references.
2. Don’t trust everything a shelter tells you.
In some areas, the county or charitable animal shelter
feels they’re in competition with rescue groups and
take pains to color these groups as irresponsible.
Some people who volunteer at shelters are animal
rights extremists who despise anyone who breeds dogs
to serve as pets. This is a source of tension as many
rescue group members are hobby or professional breeders.
Some rescue groups have made this worse by advertising
how they “rescue” dogs from the shelter implying they
are the guys in the white hats.
A further issue of contention between the groups is
the fee charged to obtain a dog. Some rescue groups deliberately undercut the fees the shelter’s charge.
Shelters may be limited by law or organization rules
to charging a certain amount and can’t compete on
price with rescue groups.
3. Ask about foster care for the dog you’re considering.
Responsible rescue groups place dogs in foster
homes to assess the dogs and determine what behavior
problems, if any, exist with the dog.
This information is crucial to determining what
type of permanent home would be best for the dog.
For instance, one without children or one without
Be leery of a rescue group that is trying to place
a dog that it has just obtained without having an
4. Expect to be interviewed.
Responsible rescue groups do attempt to match
a dog and his personality with an appropriate owner.
They can only do this by asking questions including
what your experience is with dogs, what you know
about the breed and what type of lifestyle you have.
Please do not be offended. I would never accept
a dog from a rescue society that did nothing
more than ascertain if I could pay the fee they want.
5. Be prepared for anything.
There are no overarching laws, regulations or
oversight of rescue groups. Some are run very
professionally and some are basket cases. Unlike
shelters, they are rarely subject to any state or
You may call a rescue group and never get a response.
Part of the problem is the rapid turnover of volunteers involved in rescue groups. Realize that you may need
to be very, very patient when dealing with a
Always ask how the dog came into rescue. Some
well-meaning group members “rescue” any dog,
especially a neglected looking dog, they find
outside without an owner.
The dog may or may not be abandoned but few rescue
groups, in my experience, make much of an effort
to try to find owners especially if in their opinion
the dog does not appear to be well treated.
Find out if they check for microchips or tattoos
and if you do get a rescue dog, have your vet
check them right away for this as well as diseases.
You may expose yourself to emotional trauma and
even liability issues if you wind up with
a lost dog whose owner tracks him back to you.
As a final caution, it pays to make two or three
visits with the dog you’re considering adopting
before making the final decision.