So you want to rescue dogs, huh? The first thing you need to do is ask youself why? If you are looking to help dogs for any other reason, then to make a dogs life better, then please find another hobby. Make no mistakes; dog rescue is ALL about the DOGS! My stock response to anyone who ask’s about why I rescue, is, “it’s all about the dogs”! I look at rescue like this; no matter how inconvenient it is for me to help a dog, when one needs to be helped, what I go through is nothing compared to what is happening to the dog at that moment. One thing is true and constant, you will be called upon to rescue a dog in need, at the most inconvenient time you can think of! So, what do you do? You go get that dog, that’s what you do! Why? Because that dog needs you! Even if you do not have the time, the room, the money or the ability, you go help the dog! Your in rescue NOW! And it is not about you anymore, It’s all about the dog! So get out there and help that dog (but, please read this first, so you know how).
The very first thing you need to realize, is that these dogs are scared, confused and depressed. Their entire world as they know it has turned upside down! I can not stress this enough. These dogs are under a lot of stress. You are not going to see the dogs true personality. They just lost their home, their family, they may be neglected and abused, hungry, or hurt. They are in a strange place, confinded and they are scared and stressed. These dogs need understanding and gentle handling. You must however, protect yourself at all times! The dog has enough issues at this point and being labeled a biter is something that the dog does not need and you can prevent it from happening. Remember, you are here to protect that dog, not cause more harm. Positioning yourself in such a way as to allow the dog to bite you or provoking a bite, regardless if you meanrt to or not, is unacceptable.
Why do we rescue? Simply put, because the dogs need our help. The big picture is; every year, four million dogs are murdered, because they do not have a home. No other reason, but they are homeless. Now, having said that, millions of other dogs are purposely murdered each year in labs across the US. Here dogs are tortured, starved, experimented upon and out right killed in the name of product testing and medical research. Sadly, it is very hard to help those dogs as the labs keep tight reign on themselves and do not allow information about what they do to become public.
So, with four million dogs murdered each year why even try to save any? It’s obvious that no matter how hard we try, we won’t even make a dent in the numbers. That is absolutely correct! We won’t, but here is a story that accurately explains why we become so dedicated to rescuing dogs.
It was a beautiful summer day, the sky was an amazing shade of bright blue. Big puffy cotton white clouds floated by over head. This was the stuff of our childhood dreams, the beach was a brilliant shade of white. The water dazzling shade of turquoise, gently lapping the white sandy beach. Littering the beach were tiny star fish. You could barely walk on the beach without stepping on the star fish. Walking along the beach was a man. While he was walking he was picking up star fish, as many as he could hold and was gently tossing them back into the ocean. Further down the beach was another man standing watching the first man tossing the star fish. As the man tossing the star fish approached, the other man said; “aren’t you wasting your time? With all the thousands of star fish laying on this beach, what difference is it going to make, by throwing back a few hundred star fish into the ocean?” the Man looked down and picked up a star fish. He held it and looked at it, then he looked at the other and said “it makes all the difference in the world for this star fish”, and he proceeded to toss it into the ocean. Then he continued walking along the beach tossing more star fish into the ocean.
That story sums up why we are in rescue, to make a world of difference to the dogs we can save, to mourn the loss of those we can not and to work hard to prevent the same from happening in the future. As rescuer’s we shed a lot of tears for those we can not save and it is a constant reminder that we need to work harder to prevent more dogs from being unwanted in the future. Be fore warned your soul will be torn to shreds working in rescue, you will shed a lot of tears and people will think you are crazy, but there is nothing like the feeling you get when you find that perfect home for a deserving dog. You will find that dogs appreciate everything you do for them and they will show it.
The best way to get into dog rescue is to ease yourself into it a little at a time. This allows you to get an understanding of what it is like and what is required. Most of all, it allows you to test the waters and see if you like rescuing dogs, after all this is not for everyone.
My suggestion is to start with transporting dogs, this is a very important job and there are never enough quality people available. While this sounds like an easy boring job, it isn’t by any means. The first thing you need to do, is ‘Google or Yahoo” your favorite breed and the word “rescue” and your state. Example: “Dachshund rescue NJ”. Then you contact the rescue and explain that you want to help transport dogs. If you already have friends rescuing, it should be easier getting started. You will probably be put on a contact list and then you wait. It’s funny, the way rescue transports work is like everyone is a super hero. Everyone goes about their business, and daily life, you have no idea who they are…until! The email or phone call and then everyone goes into rescue mode and the super heroes show up. You will get an email saying on a certain date, a dog from Georgia is going to a forever home in Maine. The travel route will be laid out by the travel coordinator.
The coordinator is the boss of the transport, they are the one’s responsible for that dog getting to it’s destination! The travel route will be broken down in to approximately 1 hour driving blocks with 15 minutes to transfer the dog and to make sure the dog has water and a potty break. Essentially this is a relay race across the county with a dog instead of a baton and there is NO dropping the “baton”.
You sign up for the date and time that you can drive. Then you go to the prearranged meeting area and you wait for the dog to come to you. You secure the paperwork and the dogs belongings and then you secure the dog, you water him and let him go potty, then it’s off to the next meeting point. You give the paperwork over to your relief, you give the dogs belongings over and then you hand the dog over, so they can water and let him go potty. When you receive the dog, you call the transport coordinator and when you transfer the dog, you call the transport coordinator. When you call the transport coordinator, you give a quick report of the status of the dog and if there were any problems. Then you go back home and get reabsorbed into your daily life until the next time.
You must remember that these dogs are stressed, confused and scared. You need to be prepared and treat the dogs as gentle as possible. DO NOT bring your dogs on a transport! DO NOT bring your dogs on a transport! Here is what not to do! I was on a mixed breed transport. We were moving 3 pit bulls from a high kill shelter down south to a foster home up north. The dogs were in the middle of their second day of transport. I had myself and a helper (always try to have two people in a vehicle). We arrived and met the driver of the next leg. She was a tiny older lady that stood 5 foot tall in a subcompact car. There is nothing wrong with being a petite woman in rescue, most of the rescuer’s are women and they do an excellent job. This lady was doing the transport for the first time, no helper, tiny car, 3 mid sized dogs and the ultimate no no! She decided it was a great idea to bring along her 3 unsocialized chihuahua’s! “Are you kidding me?” So we meet, I give her the paperwork, the dogs belonging (which weren’t much, coming from a shelter). The lady then proceeds to tell me she is afraid of pit bulls and if she had known these were pit bulls, she would not have agreed to transport. The transport schedule had descriptions of the dogs and pictures, this way people can make a conscious decision on weather they can do the transport. When you are on location, it is to late to decide you can’t continue the transport. The lady had to take the dogs, because I could not drive a second leg. She packed up the dog’s stuff and then she put the 3 pits into her car and had her 3 chihuahua’s yapping. I called the coordinator and reported what had happened.
The next segment of this blog will contain the things you need to carry with you when you transport dogs.