January 9, 2012

When a rescue is not really a rescue

People who buy dogs from breeders or stores can have a hard time sorting out which are puppy mills. Adoption should be a simple decision to ensure that you aren't supporting any bad practices. Turns out there are good rescues and not so good rescues.

The Profiteers:
One of the first rescues I looked into was All American Dachshund Rescue. Any potential surrender had to pay to get their dog vetted prior to turn bringing the dog up to date on shots, get them fixed, etc. Dogs would only be accepted when a foster home was available. As for the potential foster, they required an annual fee for the privilege and the foster covered many medical and associated costs. Finally, they could charge an application fee, a "Health Certificate Fee", and adoption fee often hundreds of dollars from would be adoptive parents.  This 501 "charity" is a very lucrative business. Not only do they have no overhead, they rarely incurred medical bills, and they receive money from the surrender, foster, adopter, donations, and the government. (Sometimes even re-selling a dog) This was no longer about rescue, but about finding out how much people were willing to pay.

Wholesale / Resale:
Certain rescues have been getting into trouble here in the tidewater area. Unfortunately, our neighbor North Carolina has a dog overpopulation problem they can't get under control. Kill shelters are found readily. They are desperate and just give dogs away to anyone who says rescue, whether or not they are legitimate. Some groups drive across the state border pick up the dogs for free or cheap, and then just drop them off with a marked up price. Here in lies the problem. These animals are often not vetted, are not spayed/neutered, and have had no behavior assessments. Adopters or fosters are left to deal with problems, and the rescue readily takes the adoption fee. There is a growing list of complaints against these groups and the business model of get dogs cheap, and get them gone fast.

The Puppymill lite
There are people refereed to as backyard breeders, trying to sell puppies advertising themselves as a rescue. I see them on Craigslist angling for the sympathy vote as well as the lucrative puppy "adoption" fees (often priced two to three times that of an adult dog.) There are also certain rescues who only pull pregnant females from pounds so that they can sell off the pups at 8 weeks. It tends to take the nobility from rescuing when the goal is to save a dog so that it can make you money. But make money they do, and in a very big way. So much so, that "rescues" are bringing in dogs from Mexico just to sell more puppies. Seriously. I recently signed a petition to reign in online pet sales and the White House Response included a note about the importation of sick puppies. I looked into that more and was simply amazed.

Please, please, please, understand that I still completely support my local pound, SPCA, and legitimate rescue groups. "Adopt, Don't Shop" all the way. I just wanted to express this minority of rescues are making the whole process of trying to help just a little harder on me, and I imagine on others as well.


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