I'm not sure I'm adding anything useful here but a lot of the comments got to me. I did Maltese rescue nationally for several years and the number of dogs I placed was in triple-digits. Here's some things that most people don't think about
- Dealing with unwanted dogs is very emotional and time consuming.
- City shelters only have so many spots, yet they cannot refuse dogs. What would you do if you were put in that situation?
- Everybody wants small, young female dogs. I hated
dealing with puppies and younger females. I would get over 100 applications and dozens of calls on them. Most of the people who didn't get chosen took it personally and would call or email either to complain, ask what went wrong, or tell me off. But I would endure this because the adoption fees for a healthy young dog helped pay for vet bills for the sick ones. Meanwhile, dogs like my Jill would not get any calls. This is Jill:
I had her ads up on petfinder and other sites for over a year
and got 2 calls
. She was 10-1/2 at the time and nobody wanted her. She was and still is a perfect little 5 lb dog at 17-1/2 years old.
- Like most rescues, I would always take back dogs that people would return to the rescue. That is how I got Jill. I can't remember but she was originally adopted when she was around 4 years old and she was returned. I was very careful screening people. We had a 4 page application and I would call the vets and at least 3 references and have nice discussions with potential adopters and often home visits. Yet about 10% of the dogs I placed over the years were returned. Half of those dogs had some level of neglect. I know there was a percentage of people who instead of returning them gave them away, turned them in to animal control, or simply put them on the street when they no longer wanted them, but I have no idea what the percentage was. A couple were caught due to shelters calling when they scanned chips. One of those was Jill. What do you do? It's not illegal. You just pick up the dog from the shelter.
- Despite what is written here, there are a lot of wonderful, healthy young Maltese available on any given day. Most don't get posted to the internet, or at least they didn't a few years ago when I was at the height of my activities in rescue. They would be taken home by people walking into the shelter, or a rescue might take them and send them to a home they had pre-chosen. When they do get posted, they may only be up for a couple of hours. You need to be diligent to find them, visiting the local shelters, calling immediately, and being flexible. If you're not willing to do that finding a young healthy female dog will require lots of luck.
- You find out how many dogs really come in to animal control facilities when you create relationships with the shelter managers. I would get calls every week from shelters across the country. I had a policy of never turning them down, but our rescue could not come close to taking them all. So I would end up on the phone to other rescues and I drove all over the eastern half of the country transporting dogs. It is a great way to make friends!
- Some "well-respected" rescues would never take older or sick dogs. Never. Our rescue would always take them because otherwise they would get put down. So the majority of our dogs were older or special needs. All of us ended up with our own little doggie pack of dogs that nobody else wanted. I had 7-8 of my own dogs for years including a barker, a biter, and a blind and deaf dog. I loved them all.
- I was the one that would take in a sick dog and nurse them back to health. I got up at 3 AM to drive hundreds of miles. I cut off the matted fur filled with fleas and feces while the dog in pain was nipping at me, I cared for the open sores, I hand fed them and gave them medication multiple times a day. So yes, I was particular about where they were going to go. Particularly when I would get 1 in 10 back.
- People have all kind of ideas how to make rescues better or more effective. They can't believe rescues don't do them. I spent 35 hours a week doing rescue in addition to my 50 hour a week job. Those two things were all I did. I had no time to set up national application databases or weekly newsletters, and neither did the other volunteers. If you have a good idea, then volunteer and do it. Otherwise, your criticism will be ignored. Trust me.
- People often said to me that the toughest thing to deal with must have been the people turning in dogs. Not even close. The toughest thing I dealt with was some of the volunteers. Most were wonderful, but more than a few were not. Fosters were screened as carefully as adopters, yet many would just sign up intending to take the dogs on a "test drive" to see if they wanted them. If they "flunked" fostering and kept the dogs and then stopped fostering, that was perfectly fine. But others would take in a foster, then want me to move the dog quickly when it wasn't what they wanted. I had one person call me at 2 AM asking me to take the dog from them that they picked up that afternoon because the dog was crying. I was 3 states away! I won't go into that conversation, but there were multiple times that I had to drive hundreds of miles on a few hours notice to pick up dogs from fosters. That's a huge downside to running a national rescue. I had over 130 foster homes across the country at my peak.
Look, this is not intended as a rant. I just want to give some insight to people that will visit this thread as to why rescues are the way they are. Rescues and shelters develop the rules they have based on their collective experiences.