I started doing what is now called “rescue” in 1981. Not because I set out to save the world one dog at a time but because I was taught it is what you do for your breed. We didn’t call it by the dramatic name of “rescue”. We called it “helping out”, “doing what is right for the breed”, rehoming. There was no need to run around squawking about what a “horrible situation” the dog had been “rescued” from – just take the dog and find the dog a new home. Proclaiming loudly about “abusers” and “hoarders” to raise funds wasn’t done. We found the money and did for the dog. Even as a kid, I knew that life is what happens while we are making plans and sometimes bad things happen even to good people. I think we are all aware there are the Vick type monsters out there but I really believe enough in the goodness of mankind that I believe Vick types are the exception NOT the rule. Just my opinion, I guess, but also my hope for mankind.
The first dog I took in was a sheltie found by my vet in bad shape, wandering a small town, grazing from dumpsters and handouts. Her nails were too long, her coat matted and she had stiches in her belly that my vet felt indicated a c-section, possibly involving a spay. We assumed that she had been in some kind of breeding facility and maybe dumped after her usefulness was ended. We checked to see if she was simply an escapee but no one claimed her. My vet and I cleaned her up, vetted her, cut her nails and found her a new home. She showed no signs of “abuse”, just some neglect and some of that could have occurred while on her wanderings. I placed her with a young family who had a farm and she lived out the rest of her life as a very happy farm dog not even taking very long to adapt so you have to wonder.
I tried at the time to get my club involved in setting up some kind of program to deal with rehoming but they weren’t interested. They just told me that the “good breeders” would take theirs back and anything else wasn’t their problem. Fortunately, things have changed greatly since then and that club had an active “rescue” program the last time I checked.
I have stayed quietly involved with “rescue” from the sidelines ever since that first dog, mostly just holding a dog for a few days, transporting or picking up a dog for a rescue, passing on information, educating new owners, doing some home visits and evaluating dogs. Small things that I felt I could help with but not going full bore into “rescue”. I don’t go around bragging about what I do because I feel it is what I owe my breed, not something I accomplish.
I, also, don’t put down the owners of dogs coming into rescue FOR ANY REASON. First of all, I don’t know the whole story of that person’s life. I only see part of it. There are a lot of reasons in this world that someone’s life changes and frequently giving up a dog is a part of it. It may be a very difficult part but still necessary, and sometimes it is the best thing for the dog as well as the owner.
I had to give up my dogs when my husband got sued years ago. I had no choice. It was feed my kids or feed the dogs. It was rough, especially when my son had to give up his golden because we were moving into an apartment that wouldn’t take a large dog. The apartment was all we could afford at the time. I was lucky enough to have the resources to place my dogs myself. Not many people do. The golden went to my boss and a year later saved his 5 year old daughter’s life. Needless to say, that dog had a good life with that family. I cried a few tears and thanked God that the dog was in the right place.
To me, that is what “rehoming” is about – the right place for the dog. Not “glory” for me as a hero for “rescue”, not shame for someone who gives up or loses their dog for whatever reason. It’s about God given compassion for the dog and God given charity for the owners. Because every time I see some story about dogs taken from an “abuser” or a “hoarder”, I know that with the political climate what it is today thanks to the animal “rights” extremists – there but for the Grace of God, go I. There are too many whackos out there that believe that keeping dogs as DOGS is abuse and that no human is good enough to own a dog. And there are too many “rescuers” who feed into that mind set with their screaming pleas for help and money for the dogs that have been “rescued” from some abuser or hoarder.
I am always happy to do what is right for my breed and help in any way I can with the placement of a dog but I won’t do it at the expense of a human being. And when a “rescue” starts squealing about “hoarders” and “abusers”, I simply step away. It’s not necessary to denigrate another human being in order to help a dog. Just do what is right for the dog and let God take care of the rest.