Since my posts have been exceedingly long lately, I’ll cover Part 4: Municipal shelters vs. no-kill in the next post. What I want to cover in this post is a look at rescues overall.
In the previous posts I’ve covered off in detail (maybe too much) on the different types of breeders you can purchase a dog from. However, there are other options that might make sense for prospective dog owners. With the exception of backyard breeders, puppy mills and pet stores, neither is better than the other (purebred purchase from a reputable breeder vs. rescue adoptions). Where you purchase or adopt a pet from is a highly personal choice that someone makes for their particular situation.
I absolutely respect people who rescue dogs. My good friend has two pitbull rescues and they are absolutely fantastic well adjusted dogs (just ask my kids who spent some time with them this past weekend). If I lived on a farm or somewhere with the room I’d probably have a few rescues myself. However, right now in my life a rescue is not something that makes sense so I do purchase purebred dogs from a reputable breeder.
What I dislike about many rescue organization is they act like they are the only way to go and look down at those of us who purchase purebreds. I remember an incident, many, many years ago at a local adoption. I was looking for a cat to adopt (this was back before I developed a severe allergy to them). I found one I liked was fine with the $150 adoption charge and happily filled out the paperwork. The woman handling the adoptions took one look at my paperwork and told me quite briskly that I couldn’t adopt. When I inquired as to the reason (all my paperwork was in order and I even had my lease showing I could have cats) she told me coldly that it was because I had a non-spayed dog at home. *GASP* I did indeed have a 1 year old Golden Retriever female who I had not yet spayed. The reason? She was a co-owned conformation dog and we were growing her out a bit to see how she’d do before making that determination. It didn’t matter how responsible I was. It didn’t matter how many dogs I had in my life that never had an unwanted litter. It didn’t matter if I was involved in 4-H and the teaching of responsible dog training and ownership. As I politely explained this all to the woman my irritation grew as she just kept telling me I was an irresponsible pet owner. Here I was, wanting to adopt and I was denied and told how horrible a pet owner I was. I don’t understand why there has to be such animosity on the part of rescue organization towards those of us who purchase or even breed purebreds.
For the record, I did end up adopting a couple of amazing kittens from a different organization. I can’t deny though that the experience left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Let me assure you that this post is not a rip on rescues. I think rescues absolutely have their place and am happy that someone is there to help out dogs who are no longer wanted or needed. As I said earlier, a rescue isn’t right for me at this point and time in my life. I live in a house in the suburbs and while I do have a backyard I am not only limited by cities ordinances but have to be realistic about how much space I have for another family member. Also, I have kids and I want to know the temperament of whatever dog I’m getting. When we decided to get a dog for the family both my husband and I instantly agreed we wanted a Golden Retriever. They are loyal, patient, smart (or are supposed to be at least), and tolerant. I knew that if I got a Golden I would never have to worry about the dog snapping my kids, gaining a neurosis due to the chaos that can be my household and would love the attention it would receive. The only way I could guarantee this was to get a purebred Golden Retriever puppy. Adopting an older shelter/rescue would mean I wouldn’t know anything about temperament, the past history, what mom and dad were like or even anything about its health history.
Recues are a mystery. For some people that is perfectly acceptable but for someone with a family and limited space I can’t take a ‘mystery dog’. I don’t think they are inferior, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with them; they simply don’t fit with my life right now. While a rescue isn’t in my cards, I do support some rescue organizations because I believe in the work they do and want to help them out with donations, time and other little ways here and there.
As a prospective pet owner you have to decide for yourself what works best. Ask yourself the following:
– Do you want a particular type of companion or do you just want to add a four footed friend to your family?
– Do you care about health guarantees for the life of the dog?
– Do you need to know what breed or breeds your new dog is?
– Do you want a detailed history or pedigree of the dog?
– Do you want to sell out big bucks for a particular type of dog?
– How much patience and knowledge do you have to deal with any potential behavioral issues?
Rescue dogs aren’t going to give any guarantees in terms of temperament, history, or health. The organization you’re adopting from will do their best to past on any history they have but often times they simply don’t have any history to give you.
The great part about adopting a rescue is that you’re saving a life. You are taking someone’s ‘trash’ and giving it a second chance at life. Instead of the thousand plus dollars you can spend on a purebred you pay an adoption fee, typically around $200, for your new dog. This money goes back into the organization to cover the rising costs of taking care of an animal. Rescue dogs also usually have had a health check, are neutered/spayed, microchiped and up to date on their vaccines. Getting a rescue dogs means you’re getting a total package.
As I stated when starting this post, neither a dog from a reputable breeder nor a dog from a rescue is better. If you purchase or plan to purchase a purebred do not let anyone make you feel bad or feel guilty. Likewise, if you are getting a rescue don’t let someone scare you or talk you out of it. So long as you’ve done your homework and are prepared either way is a great way to go!