Pet Rescue work is both rewarding and heartbreaking. I have been in “rescue” since 1996 and I am amazed at the misconception the public has about how “rescue” works.
I answer the phone for Tri-County Animal Rescue (TCAR) and the volume of calls wanting to surrender a dog and/or cat is overwhelming. There are far more calls wanting to surrender a pet than calls wanting to adopt a pet. A rescue (any rescue) has limited resources and foster homes. TCAR cannot accommodate every pet that is in need. I wish we could but there is just not enough foster homes. There is a great shortage of qualified people willing to volunteer as a foster home. This is probably the most limiting factor rescues deal with.
Rescues are normally non-profit organizations dependent upon donations to stay in business. No money, no pets! They do not charge a surrender fee. Many people want to surrender dogs/cats that need medical attention, vaccinations, and spay/neutering. A common statement from someone wanting to surrender a dog might be . . . "He is a great dog and will make someone (else) a wonderful pet. But like all dogs he has a few problems . . . " Then they go on to list destructive and/or aggressive behavior issues that would keep this dog from being adopted by anyone.
Rescues offer re-homing services. If a dog's or cat’s health or behavior would keep it from being re-homed, then it is likely the rescue will not accept him. If the rescue accepts the pet, then they are assuming the cost and responsibility for having him for the rest of his life. Unfortunately, that is what a lot of people are looking for when they call a rescue. People will try a rescue first before taking the pet to the county shelters to avoid feeling guilty.
If a rescue refuses to adopt a pet to you, they will tell you the reasons why you cannot adopt one of their pets. Every rescue has a set of adoption guidelines. These guidelines vary from group to group so one rescue may refuse to adopt a pet to you and another may allow you to adopt. Every rescue wants their pets to go to a good home for life. They are trying to place the pet in the most appropriate forever home.
How can rescues have waiting lists for pets if there are more pets than there are homes? It is not that there are more pets than there are homes; it is that there are more homes wanting the perfect dog/cat than there are perfect dogs/cats. There is no such thing as a perfect pet. There are many good hearted people desperately want to help by rescuing a dog as long as the dog is housetrained, obedience trained, doesn't chase cats, will get along with their other dogs and has been certified to be in good health. No problem, we will put you on the waiting list! Also, some rescues do not work on a first come, first serve basis. They will adopt a pet out to the best home possible, not always the first person interested in adopting.
I keep getting turned down for a dog because I have small children. Why? Because a dog is an animal and they can jump, scratch and bite! Rescuers are trying to right a wrong that has already been done to that pet, not cause another one. It is not unusual for children to do silly things like run, tease, poke, kick or fall on a dog thereby causing the dog to defend itself. The rescue will try to match up the most appropriate pet with the family.
A rescue refused to take my dogs and cats. Isn't it the law that they have to accept them? NO! Pets are considered personal property and the law says you are the only one responsible for maintaining and caring for your animal. The county run shelters are required to take animals but rescues can just say no.
Why do rescues charge adoption fees, some of them are several hundred dollars? Don't they just want the pet to get a good home? This question partially answers itself. Yes, they just want the pet to get a GOOD home that includes a household that can afford the cost of taking care of them. If you cannot afford an adoption fee, then you probably cannot afford veterinary care, accessories, training and good food. The willingness to pay a fee shows your willingness to accept financial responsibility for the pet. It is expensive to rescue animals. The adoption or recovery fee charged by a rescue covers the cost of spay/neuter, rabies vaccines, distemper/parvo vaccines, de-worming, dentals, grooming, etc. One veterinary bill can easily exceed $500.
Please don’t call a rescue when you see animal abuse/neglect. Report this to the county run shelters. They are the only people that have the authority to enter private property and inspect the animal conditions. Rescue volunteers are volunteers and can be arrested for taking someone’s pet off their property. Call the county shelter and report abuse/neglect.
Again, there are two types of animal shelters: 1) Private, usually non-profit organizations and 2) public tax funded facilities like animal care and control departments. The biggest difference between these two types of shelters is how they are funded. Private shelters are run on donations and County shelters are funded by our tax dollars.