by Pat Pearce
Rescue is to free from confinement, danger or evil according to Webster. What rescue means to a rescuer is saving a dog, or any animal, from some situation that could be fatal or, at best, bad for the dog, then finding that dog a safe supportive home.
Dog is used universally to represent all animals for the purposes of these articles. Rescuer encompasses all of the rescue parties, whatever their part. Adopter is the person, family, or extended family that may take custody of the dog.
Typically the rescuer:
»finds the dog
»takes the dog
»fosters the dog
»evaluates the dog
»finds a home that matches the dogs needs
»places the dog
»follows up to make sure the dog is safe and secure
»if need be, takes the dog back into rescue if the placement does not work out.
Rescue dogs are found in a number of ways:
»A good Samaritan finds a dog as a stray.
»An owner decides, for whatever reason, that they cannot keep their dog.
»Animal control turns a stray into an animal shelter, or an owner turns in their dog to a shelter.
Dogs get to a rescuer when:
»The rescuer adopts the dog from a shelter.
»The owner turns custody of the dog over to a rescuer.
»A person who has found a dog passes it to the rescuer.
Once the dog is in rescue custody, the rescuer either fosters the dog or passes
the dog to a foster home. The foster home has two primary functions:
»to insure that the dog has a safe, secure environment, complete with trips to the vet if necessary
»to evaluate the dog: finding out about temperament, whether the dog will get along with other dogs, cats, kids, men, or women; if there are other issues that need to be addressed such as a fear of confined spaces, or food aggression.
When the dog has been evaluated over the course of time, usually two to three weeks, sometimes longer, then a home that matches the dogs needs is sought. Many rescue groups have an "application for adoption" that they ask those looking for dogs ("lookers") to fill out that addresses issues like other pets, children, dog experience, type of dog desired: purebred, mix, couch potato, active; color preference, gender, and other items that help the rescuer match adopters and dogs.
When a matching home is identified the rescuer approaches the potential adopter with the profile of the dog and, usually, photographs. There is dialog between the rescuer and the adopter. If both parties feel that there is a match, then a contract is signed by the adopter and the rescuer, transportation is arranged, and custody of the dog is transferred to the adopter.
The rescuer keeps in contact with the adopter to assure a good match. If, for whatever reason, the match is not good, the rescuer takes the dog back into rescue. If at some time in the future the circumstances of the adopter change and the adopter can no longer provide a safe and supportive environment for the dog, the adopter must return the dog to rescue. When rescue takes a dog, responsibility is assumed for that dog's well-being and safety for the life of that dog.