A commenter left this comment on my post about Pit Bulls. I was going to reply to it, but I feel it deserves a whole post aaaalllll by itself.

“Jescargill- contrary to your statement rescues do not “sell” dogs. they charge an adoption fee that is used toward their organization continuing to help other dogs. One “bait dog” or other dog with medical problems can cost upwards of $3000 to treat, but you can’t ask a person to pay that to adopt the dog. Or are you just anti rescue???.”


(From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

sell (sl)

v. sold (sld), sell·ing, sells

1. To exchange or deliver for money or its equivalent.

Which means that, unless you are giving away the dog for free (gifting) or giving the dog away for a service (trading) you are, by necessity, selling the dog.

Rescues exchange dogs for money. This is selling – and I don’t have a problem with this. Second- or third-hand dogs make just fine pets, 99% of the time. But adoption organizations (I hesitate to call most of them “rescues” because most of their dogs are simply traded in dogs, either for a “model” that better fits the family’s lifestyle, the dog is too much trouble because of aggression or other behavior issues, or because they can’t afford to keep a dog around anymore.

Unless you pulled the dog from a burning building or a river, it wasn’t “rescued” from anything other than intentional euthanasia.) have to weigh the cost of taking on medically needy dogs (like the $3000 repair on a dog that was hit by a car, etc) versus their overall operating cost and adoption rate.

It’s simple economics. No matter how pure your intentions, you are always subject to economics. Because we don’t actually have a pet overpopulation problem (this effect isn’t as obvious in the south and in economically disadvantaged areas, of course), this means that you have to take into account what the public wants in a second-hand dog. The ones that you can’t “sell” are the ones that stay in shelters for 10 years or are euthanized.

Rescue organizations like Stray Rescue have rainy-day funds (the Stracks fund in this case) that they fill with donations, rather than depending on their average adoption fee. This is how they are able to reconcile the conflict between high overhead and adoption rates. This is a perfectly acceptable methodology.Other rescues choose only to take on dogs that they know they can turn over – small and fluffies, puppies, that sort of thing.

There are several in my area that use this stratagem. They adopt out a lot of dogs. Organizations that choose to take on hard-case, high overhead dogs without an emergency fund face the possibility of not being able to stay functional because of the lack of funds, or alternatively being able to adopt out very few dogs.

I guess it depends on your ethic what you decide is important – adopting out a lot of dogs, or adopting out dogs you see as “more worthy” because of their hard case. As a trainer, my ethic has always been trying to adopt out a high volume of dogs that will STAY in their homes. This would mean investing in training for these dogs and trying to work dogs that naturally will be easygoing in a home environment.
I’m a trainer that has worked with a large volume of aggressive or otherwise unsuitable dogs – mostly because myself and my master trainer are the only ones in the area that will.

I appreciate the hard-case dogs. But I know too just how rare it is for people to be willing to work it out, and how unsuited most are for the task – and for the majority of people, it’s unfair to expect that of them. They aren’t dog people; they just want a pet. I am a realist. If “rescue” wants to be effective, they need to get off their moral highground and be realistic too.

I’m sure a gearhead would be absolutely appalled that I’ve left my check engine light on for a week without following up on it (which I have), and appalled that I wash my car about . . . oh once a year. I give it good gas and change its oil and get new tires for it, though, but it’s full of stock parts and I try not to spend money on it. As a Dog Person (somebody really committed to dogs and dog ethic, training, etc), I cringe when non-dog people (read – regular pet owners) feed their dogs Purina and never take them to training.

But realistically, I’ve come to accept that my onus is to try and show people the joy of training and caring for their dog, not shame them for not being as invested in it as I am. I give a lot of small advice freely to try and improve peoples’ lives and their dogs’ lives. Dogs are much more important now than they ever have been, so the ethic is changing for the better – after all, 20 years ago nobody had inside dogs in Oklahoma.

So no. I am not anti-rescue.I am, however, against the moralizing, finger-wagging, and holier-than-thou attitudes of rescues whose priorities are hard-case dogs and their sad narrative without ever considering the human equation. Randy Grim’s Stray Rescue is a beautiful example of an organization that considers both. It’s possible – but raging against reality and shaming tactics – “Are you just anti-rescue???” won’t accomplish a damned thing other than make me reject every rescue that engages in those tactics – and deprive them of a potentially valuable resource in my training.

I’ll just work with the crappy hard-case dogs they foist off on inappropriate people after they come home.

At least the regular “average pet owner” adopters will listen because they don’t have a giant ego plugging their ears.


7 responses to ““Anti-RESCUE””

  1. bdalzell says :

    This is realistic and exactly to the point!

  2. Joseph Smela says :

    I have been involved in dogs for over 15 years. I breed, I show, I rescue, I train, I groom, and I have worked in kennels. I have come accross even more disgusting practices by rescue organizations than breeders. I was attacked by a Tibetan Mastiff like dog. It’s head was twice the size of my own. It clamped onto my thigh, and refused to let go. Weeks later, it’s photo was on the wall of a petsmart billboard. The sign said “good with children.” I do not blame the rescue dog. He was doing, what he felt, was necessary. I blame people. I’m sure many of the rescue people, and the adopters have fabulous intentions, but they are often misguided, and unrealized.

  3. paigeandspaniels says :

    I have some complicated emotions towards this post. Both of my cockers I list as rescued. Before I got my first I was actually talking with a Cavalier breeder who was amazing. When I saw Apollo’s photo I could have sworn he was a CKCS, as did the breeder. She encouraged me to adopt him if I wanted to; she would always be willing to discuss a puppy with me, but as someone who also did breed rescue she said that she would not be offended. We stayed in contact afterwards as well.

    When my cockers have issues, or I need advice the first place I go to is the cocker spaniel forum that I am a part of. They have breeders, showers, rescuers, owners, and a mix of all of the above. Believe me, they have given me more support than either places I received my rescues from did.

    Apollo was $18 directly from the stray ward an hour before his euthanization time. He had five days in stray hold, he wasn’t eating, had a pretty obvious ear infection. He had been given a once-over by an unlicensed vet tech (this was found out later when the head of this animal control was fired) who declared him neutered – clearly he was not. After my groomer shaved off five pounds of matted pelt off him and a few months of getting this 8lb, 3yr old cocker spaniel up to a good weight… Yes, I rescued him. He wasn’t “bought” when buying was me signing my name handing over a receipt that said I pre-paid my vet $18 for his rabies.

    I also heartily agree with you about “hard case” dogs. I get a lot of flak because I don’t agree with entirely no-kill shelters. Realistically when they get in a dog they can’t adopt they usually just foist it off onto a kill shelter.

    I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Rosie the Chihuahua (I don’t know how to do a hyperlink in the comments but if you google her it’ll come right up) she was rescued from a puppy mill bust; she had to be fed from a tube, had multiple surgeries, had a laundry list of permanent health problems, etc. It always bothered me that they kept paying for surgeries, and accepting donations. I don’t think dogs should go through that. I don’t think dogs understand. I’d rather euthanize a puppy mill dog that is neurotic than make it spend years living in fear, pacing, barking at walls, just for the hope that some day it might be a normal dog while people donate money to this sad case. Meanwhile – perfectly healthy well-behaved dogs in shelters in my area are being put to sleep because they have no where to go.

    Sorry for the diatribe, I didn’t mean for it to get this long. Just my opinions.

    • Pai says :

      In my opinion, dogs with extreme defects as Rosie are kept alive to cater to the rescuer’s messiah complex, and not out of true caring for the dog’s happiness or quality of life.

  4. carol stuart says :

    The article is spot-on and says what needs to be said.

  5. RFundom says :

    Excellent points and well made.

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