As most of our readers know, both Tigs and Holly are rescue dogs, adopted from an animal shelter near to where we live. We went to a shelter mostly because I didn’t want to adopt a puppy and I wasn’t concerned too much about having a purebred. At the same time a friend of mine was getting a dog and did want a purebred so I ‘thought’ she would have to go to a breeder because shelters and rescue groups don’t usually get purebreds. I have since learned that I was wrong, very wrong and entirely misinformed.
In order to educate both ourselves and our friends on this topic, we thought it best to speak to an expert in this area, someone on the front lines of a dog rescue group.
So today Tigs is talking with Mandy May McIntyre, the official spokesdog for rescue group awareness.
Now if I’m understanding correctly, it’s not just mixed breed dogs that end up in rescues?
Yes, in fact, all kinds of dogs end up in rescue. Like you, often people think it is only the mixed-breed dogs, bad dogs or dogs with problems, but the truth is that most dogs end up in rescue because of some irresponsible human.
At our rescue we get pregnant mommies, new puppies, teens, middle-aged dogs and seniors. Most dogs are happy, healthy, and well adjusted. Yes, we get some dogs with issues, but we don’t trick people into adopting them. If a family wants a happy, friendly dog, that is what they get. If they are open to special needs, we will match them with a special needs pet. You would be surprised at how many families actually want special needs dogs.
Are they all from puppy mills?
The majority of dogs in rescue come from kill shelters where they were picked up as strays. A rescue groups’ first priority is to get dogs out of dangerous situations. Some dogs are from puppy mills, some are beloved family pets that are surrendered to rescue when families fall on hard times. Most of the dogs in rescue are not traumatized or injured, they just need help finding a nice family to love.
Are any of the dogs actually healthy and adoptable?
So, what are the benefits of getting a dog from a rescue group?
Here are some great things about getting a dog from a rescue group:
1) All of our dogs have gotten veterinary care from a qualified vet.
2) All of our dogs are already spayed or neutered
3) We temperament test each dog, which means we know what they like and don’t like and we will match the right dog to your family
4) We support the adoption by answering questions and giving advice.
5) If the dog isn’t right for your family, we will take them back.
You are never “stuck” when you adopt from rescue.
It’s important to understand, dogs aren’t in rescue because they are damaged, they are in rescue because they are lucky!
Go, on have a look at some of our dogs here, you know you want to!
Do you have to know about the breed before they will let you adopt? What I mean is, can you get a whippet without ever having had one before?
Breed specific rescue groups are the experts. so you don’t have to be!
We do a home visit before a family can adopt, and it is the job of the volunteer doing the home visit to answer questions about the breed and make sure adopters are aware of typical personality traits. When our adopters have problems, they can call the rescue group and it is pretty likely there is someone who can help out with information and resources.
How do rescue groups work? How do they raise money?
The rescue group I run with my Mom is called Diamond Dachshund Rescue of Texas, www.ddrtx.org. We rescue, rehabilitate, and rehome our dachshund friends.
Not all rescue groups rehabilitate, but at DDRTX, we like the dogs that wouldn’t have a chance without us. Here is how it works:
1) We hear about a dog in need
2) We make arrangements to get the dog into our custody
3) We have a volunteer pick up the dog and take them to a safe place, like a foster home or our kennel building.
4) The dogs then go to the vet for a check up.
If everything is fine, we get the dog up to date on shots and make them available for adoption. We try to get them meeting new families right away.
If a dog is sick, injured, traumatized, or pregnant, they go to a foster home that specializes in caring for dogs with problems. They stay in foster care until the vet says they are healthy enough to go to a new home.
Rescue groups get money through donations and grants mostly. The adoption fee is pretty low and really only covers the care of a healthy dog. When we get a dog that needs more care, we raise money for that specific case. Our foster parents donate the food for the dogs in their home.
When we get dogs in that need extra medical care, I do fundraising on facebook via auctions etc to raise money. Here is a picture of me modeling jewelry for a silpada fundraiser that I hosted.
What sort of facilities do you have?
We have a kennel building we call The Frat House. We call it that because it is a HUGE party all the time. None of our dogs are in danger of being euthanized, so the vibe in there is happy and fun. The dogs run around, play, nap and wrestle all day.
What happens if you rehabilitate a dog but it still just doesn’t get adopted?
We are a no kill shelter and we don’t transfer pets to kill facilities. That means when a dog comes into Diamond Dachshund Rescue of Texas, we promise to take care of them for the rest of their lives. If they don’t get adopted, they will retire with us. If they get adopted and need to come back, we will take them back at any time in their lives. On our website, people can “sponsor” a dog. That is when they donate money for a particular dogs care. Some of our dogs have people who sponsor them for years. It is a really nice thing to do for the dog and nice to know you are helping a dog have a happy life.
Is it the same as the SPCA but just for certain specific breeds?
Exactly! Our volunteers love all animals, but sometimes a specific breed is close to their hearts. Rescue groups are perfect for someone who is interested in adopting a specific breed, but still want to provide a home for a pet in need. There are rescue groups for ALL types of animals too; cats, ferrets, bunnies, fish, turtles, etc.
Do you think rescue groups wrongly encourage people to seek out purebreds? What about all the nice mixed-breed dogs like me who also need homes?
I don’t think so because most people don’t even know about breed specific rescue! BOL! Purebred dogs need saving too, Tigs!
I am part dachshund by the way.
Um, ya okay Tigs.
Now, seriously are there really THAT many purebred dachshunds that need rescuing?
Well, when my mom started Diamond Dachshund Rescue, she thought she would re-home a few dachshunds a year. She didn’t realize that purebred dogs find themselves homeless just as often as mixed breed dogs! Now, we re-home over 300 dachshunds a year and there are always dogs we have to turn down because we don’t have room.
Sadly, because there are puppy mills there are a lot of purebred pets that end up in dangerous situations, like families that don’t care for them or who put them out on the street.
Most people don’t even know that purebred dogs end up at shelters!
Please tell me more about your role at the rescue group.
Basically, I run DDRTX with my mom. I am the rescue awareness spokesdog and it is my job to teach people that there is a rescue group for every type of animal.
People get confused, Tigs. They think if you want a purebred dog, you have to go to a breeder.
That’s definitely what we thought!
Well, there are good breeders and bad breeders and a lot of times it is really hard to tell the difference. No pet lover wants to give money to someone who isn’t treating their dogs right, that just encourages bad breeders to have more dogs and treat them badly. If you get your pet from a rescue group, you can side step the whole problem and you will be saving lives!
What does it mean when you say you are a “rescue awareness spokesdog”?
It means, I teach people how rescue organizations work. When people find out I run a rescue group with my mom, they come to me with questions about how to find a rescue group near them, how rescue groups work, what kinds of pets come into rescue, and how to adopt from rescue.
I also run campaigns where I make posters teaching about rescue and invite my friends to do the same. All the stuff I do explains rescue so that people understand that rescue is not all sad stories, abuse, and gore.
Rescue is all about happy endings, not sad beginnings.
What sort of things do you do to get the word out?
Well, for one thing I am featured in my own calendar called “DDRTX Saved our Butts”.
Um, your rear end you mean?
Yep, I am known for my shapely posterior, and as they say, ‘you have to give the fans what they want!’
So, if people have any questions about rescue, or want to know more about you, how can they find you online?
Thank you for this informative chat, I’ve definitely learned a lot today!