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The Best Way to Select a Reputable Dog Rescue Agency

Updated on April 12, 2011

How to Find Help Adopting a Rescue Dog

 As animal activists and animal rights workers get more vocal about abuses of puppy mills and pet shops selling dogs, folks are finding the advantages of adopting dogs turned over the rescue organizations.  However not all rescues add up the same.

When selecting a rescue from which to adopt a dog, a few simple steps can eliminate the expense and heart break of a bad fit.

Start out searching for well known rescue agencies and shelters through web sites such as

Check out agencies listed through national agencies like the ASPCA.

Make sure any agency that claims a not for profit status is really licensed that way through the state.

See if the agency hosts a website. If so, look for the types of adoptable dogs.  What criteria would allow a person to adopt or preclude them from it.

Does the adoption contract spell out what must happen if the dog needs to be returned; if bad behaviors pop up; if support for transition behaviors is provided; and who would pay for medical expenses if the dog was found to be ill, injured or suffering from a long term disabling condition?

If a dog is designated special needs, what does that require?  Are animals vetted for aggressiveness; problems with cats, other dogs or children?  Who makes these decisions and what are their qualifications?

How many animals have been placed in the past?

What is the adoption fee and what does it entail?  Most good rescues require a fee, but it includes a microchip to recover lost pets; inoculations; worming; and animal neutering.

Does the state in which you wish to adopt require the state license shelters?  And if so, how clean is the shelter; who provides their animal care and how are animals placed.  Review all contracts completely.  Bring all family members, including other pets, to meet potential household additions.  Some rescues and shelters allow weekend trials to bring dogs home, seeing how they will fit into the household.

If you have contact with a shelter or rescue and they seem to direct you toward dogs that are not good family fits, leave.  Sometimes well meaning individuals identify themselves as shelters or rescues, when in fact they are animal hoarders and attempt to place unsuitable animals at all costs.

Ask to speak with other families that have adopted through the agency.  What type of experience will they report?  Only when all of these questions can be answered, should adoption be considered.  The average life expectancy of a mid-size dog is roughly 10 to 12 years.  During that time, dogs can require extensive cost for high quality food, medical care, time and attention.

A hasty decision  on incomplete information can cause more heart break than puppy love.


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