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Adopting a dog from a breed rescue group

by Mary “Tief” Tieffenbrunn – CCHS Humane Education Chair and volunteer for Illinois Bird Dog Rescue

What is a breed rescue group?

A breed rescue group is usually a group of volunteers that work together to shelter and rehome dogs of a specific breed. Most breed rescue groups obtain homeless dogs from over crowded animal shelters, impound facilities, and owner surrenders. Most breed rescue groups keep their rescued dogs in “foster homes” rather than in a kennel environment. This way, the dog’s quality of life immediately improves upon entering the rescue and he has the opportunity to learn how to be a well-behaved house dog before he is adopted and goes to his new “forever home.”

A few things you can expect:

Many breed rescues are run entirely by volunteers. Sometimes you will not get an immediate return phone call or email about your inquiry or application because the volunteers are very busy taking care of dogs and their other responsibilities. Dealing with a breed rescue can require some patience.
Breed rescues charge more for adoptions than the average animal shelter. These small non-profit groups spend a lot of money transporting, caring for, and sometimes providing medical treatment to the dogs that they rescue. For that reason, they often ask for a substantial donation from their adopters.

A good rescue group will . . .

A good breed rescue group will tell you both the wonderful and the “challenging” characteristics of the breed. The rescue will want you to understand what it is truly like to live with this type of dog. Successful adoptions happen when expectations match up with reality! The rescue should also be forthcoming with information about the breed’s genetic predispositions for health problems.

A good breed rescue group will carefully determine which dogs are suitable for adoption and will not warehouse dogs. The responsible rescue is careful to be sure that the dogs it offers for adoption are of sound temperament.

A good breed rescue will have a thorough application and interview process. Many breed rescues include a home visit as part of the application process and will not approve your adoption until the home visit is accomplished. The rescue might also contact your veterinarian as a reference.

A good breed rescue will want to hear from you after you take your new dog home and will require that you return the dog to the rescue in the event that things do not work out.

Questions to Ask a Breed Rescue Group:

  1. When and how did the dog come into rescue?
  2. Does the dog have any medical conditions?
  3. Is the dog current with vaccinations?
  4. Is the dog spayed/neutered?
  5. Is the dog on heartworm prevention?
  6. If the dog has been in foster care, ask to speak to the foster guardian about the dog’s personality and how it behaves in the home. You’ll want to know . . .
  • Is the dog housebroken? Crate trained?
  • Is the dog good with children? Other dogs? Cats?
  • Does the dog walk nicely on leash? / Has he had any training?
  • Does the dog have any fears: men? thunderstorms? riding in cars? being left alone?

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