Rescue organizations should have a 501c3, tax-exempt status, registered with the IRS. If donations are not tax-deductible, where are they going? Organizations can be non-profit without tax exemption; however, they have to pay taxes on any money donated. A non-profit rescue organization should garner tax-exempt status, where all their funds can be used directly for the rescue without any tax consequences. A tax-exempt registered non-profit can provide transparent financial accountability for donations and details on how they spend donation dollars for donors to see.
A rescue organization will only be as good as the volunteers that become involved with it. A rescue dealing with Pit bulls should understand the breeds the health, temperament, and typical behaviors of the breed. Many rescues acquire dogs from shelters and humane organizations, freeing up space in them. Some will also accept dogs directly from owners as surrenders, but that is usually under special circumstances. Most rescues would like for owners to be more proactive and responsible in keeping their dogs.
Before a dog is acquired, it should have gone through a behavior assessment. The dog is evaluated for any aggression issues directly by the rescue and should not be based on anyone else's evaluation. Once the dog has passed evaluation, is accepted into a rescue, the dog should be given a health checkup, updated on vaccinations including rabies, be spayed or neutered if that was not already done. The dog should also be started on monthly heartworm preventative (if the dog is heartworm negative) along with flea and tick preventative. Any other health issues should be addressed and treated at this time.
Behavior assessments provide accurate and honest information on the dog’s behavior and personality. Before coming into a rescue, all dogs should be formally evaluated. All rescues should be open to inquiries into their behavior assessment methods, and adopters should be allowed to review the results with the organization’s staff. A rescue organization should have in place a set of guidelines for a behavior assessment. A behavior assessment is important for understanding how the dog reacts in certain situations, the behavior assessment is not the be-all and end-all. It simply means the dog has passed the criteria within the assessment's guidelines.
Rescues should never knowingly adopt out aggressive dogs simply to save their lives. Adopting out dogs with known aggression issues is considered gross negligence. Lawsuits abound in today's world. They can hurt the reputation of the rescue and cause financial damage if a lawsuit is brought because of a rehomed dog with known aggression issues and that dog was involved in a traumatic incident.
*”Egregious” aggression should be defined by the individual shelter or rescue, but some defining characteristics could be (courtesy ASPCA)
a bite that requires medical treatment,
an injurious bite that the dog could have avoided inflicting but opted to bite rather than retreat,
an injurious bite delivered without obvious warning, or
an attack in which repeated injurious bites are delivered.
Foster Care Programs
Are they in clean kennels? In a foster home? Or in crates stacked up in a hot, shade-less yard? Many rescue organizations do not have a shelter environment and use a foster care program to house the dogs they accept. These homes are private homes owned by the foster families. With this setup, it’s much easier to have an approved adoption application before potential adopters can meet the dogs. Since the dogs live in private homes, this allows you to limit who and when people can meet the dogs.
The dog will live in a foster family’s home until placed for adoption. The dog should be worked with and trained to learn the basics of obedience training, house training, and socialization. Most of the time, dogs are relinquished to shelters and humane organizations because of a lack of training. Rescues should be willing to help the adopters and the dog with any issues they have. Having a qualified dog trainer involved with your rescue can be a huge help. Where experience counts most. No book or website can replace the experience of the volunteers who work with a responsible rescue. Potential adopters need to realize that mistakes can and will happen, even with the best-trained dog, and that a period of adjustment and decompression is necessary for all newly adopted dogs.
Responsible rescue means filling all the dogs' needs in their care for as long as they are with them. They provide:
Freedom from hunger and thirst.
Freedom from discomfort.
Freedom from pain, injury, and disease.
Freedom from fear and distress; and the.
Freedom to express normal behaviors.
Applications should be adopter-friendly and thorough enough so that the rescue can get a clear picture of the potential adopters—what type of dog they are looking for, and if there are others in their household. Adoption applications typically start the communication process between an adopter and a rescue. Rescues should be willing to look for ways to help the adopter find a good match if their chosen dog turns out not to fit their home or lifestyle With Pit Bull-type dogs, it is always a good rule to adopt to households as an only dog, or where the adopter has an opposite-sex dog, as Pit Bulls tend to do better with dogs of the opposite sex. Rescues should also be upfront with potential adopters and tell them if and why an application was denied. You should never ignore adopters. There should be in place a way to answer all inquiries from adopters. There is nothing worse than being interested in adopting and never hearing from the rescue organization. Courtesy Adoption Application (PDF)(Word Doc)
Strict Adopter Background and Lifestyle
Before an animal is adopted out, the rescue should complete a series of checks. These checks include current veterinarian checks and personal reference checks. Once these are complete, a home visit should be scheduled to see where the dog will be living and if the dog will get along with other family members (human and animal).
Some adopters may think this is invasive; however, a rescue that places an animal in any home without ensuring the safety and welfare of the dog first and foremost is doing a disservice to the dog and the adopter. A responsible rescue will have an agreement to be signed stating that the dog will be relinquished back to the rescue if the dog is not maintained to humane standards.
Requirements for Adopters
Due to the number of dogs relinquished because of landlord changes, new landlord rules or moving and being unable to find a place that allows bully breeds and numerous other rental issues, adopters should be homeowners or condo owners, with no restrictions on the breed. That means requesting condo owners to supply the rules about dogs from their condo association and asking homeowners who live in developments to provide the language from the homeowners' association. Only under special circumstances should renters be able to adopt.
When adopting out puppies, proof of registering for a formal humane and positive training class should be required before adopting the puppy. Then, adopters can simply give you a copy of the receipt.
Adopters should be at least 21 years old, and if they are attending college, they should stabilize their lives before adopting.
Medical Records and Treatment
Animals should be spayed/neutered and current on vaccines before they go home. With only rare exceptions for serious medical reasons, an adopted pet should be sterilized and up-to-date on shots, and this should be included in your adoption fee. When the dog is adopted, all medical records should go with that dog. This information should be readily available to the adopter for their current veterinarian to add to their records. If the animal does not work out for any reason, the rescue should bring it back into their program. All means of keeping the dog in the home should be exhausted before uprooting the dog yet again.
Requirements for Rescue
Ethical and Responsible Rescues:
Will maintain the health of their animals through vaccinations and routine preventative and veterinarian visits;
Will not take in more dogs than they can care for;
Will train the dog to acceptable standards;
Will ensure that the dog will go to a home that the dog will flourish in;
Will maintain communication with the adopters to assist in any training or behavioral issues;
Will place the dog’s health and welfare above all other things considered; and
Will always take a dog back. Whether it is a problem with the dog or the adopter, communication should be an open door, and the rescue should honor their original commitment to the dog, even if the adopter will not, no matter the reason.