When you spend time in the animal welfare world, eventually you will come across a bad rescue group. Some are easier to identify than others. Some hide it well, until it all comes crumbling down. Some begin with good intentions, but get in over their heads. Some are downright evil, in it to exploit the animals for profit.
For the uninitiated, the basic obligations of a rescue group include:
*Getting the animal spayed or neutered.
*Getting the animal vetted. This includes vaccinations, microchip, and treating any medical conditions.
*Evaluating the animal’s personality, behavior, and physical condition to determine his needs.
*Providing a safe, appropriate environment for the animal while he is in the care of the rescue.
*Screening adopters to find a safe, appropriate home for the animal.
*Follow up care. This includes helping the adopter resolve any issues, if possible, and taking the animal back into rescue if at any time the adopter becomes unable to keep him.
So how do you know if you’re looking at a not so good rescue? Some signs are obvious, especially if you follow their social media presence.
Bad rescue red flags:
*They constantly complain that they can’t afford to feed the animals in their care.
*They make threats to have animals euthanized due to lack of funds or space.
*They ignore reasonable requests for information about the animals in their care.
*They have a lot of unaltered animals.
*They have a really high number of animals per person, which means that the animals cannot be cared for adequately.
*The animals in their care seem to have a lot of “accidents” (dog fights, escapes, injuries.)
*Their application doesn’t ask for references, especially for a vet reference.
*The animals at their adoption events or kennels seem neglected or excessively dirty.
*They claim to need volunteers but make it impossible for people to help.
*They avoid questions from other animal welfare people about their practices, or give different answers to different people.
*They regularly pull animals from far away shelters but not local ones. (This often means they were banned from their local shelters.)
*Their returned animals “mysteriously” end up at the shelter, and they do not reclaim them.
As an example of a GOOD rescue group that does it right, let me tell you about Sofia. Smart Rescue pulled her from a local shelter in July 2014. She was horribly malnourished, had a terrible case of entropion, and a golf ball sized growth on her face. She was going to take some work, and since she is a bullmastiff, everything was going to be expensive. While in foster care, she had surgery to remove the large benign growth on her face, and her eyelids were surgically lifted to repair the entropion. She was also spayed and chipped, and she required veterinary care for some other minor ailments. She weighed 80 pounds the day I picked her up at the shelter. The day she went to her adoptive home, she weighed 135.
Happy ending, right? Not so fast. Sofia will be returning to Smart this weekend, because one of the previous dogs in the home is picking on her incessantly. The adopters decided that it was in the best interests of both dogs to return Sofia, and Smart is taking her back. Smart will go back to the drawing board to find Sofia just the right home. And she’ll get her happy ending. Because that’s what a good rescue does.