Assessing the cost of rescue by Geraldine Cove-Print

Created: 04/04/2012

A couple of interesting pieces of information have fluttered into my lap this week; the first is on the subject of making a donation when a rescue takes a dog in. We all realise that there is usually money to be spent in accepting a dog into rescue; it can vary from animal to animal. Neutering, vaccination, transport costs, health care, kennelling and microchipping are just a few of the possible costs involved. When the dog is ready to go out more money is spent on home checking and donít forget all of those telephone calls!
It makes sense that if a dog is coming in from a private home the owners should be asked to make a donation, following assessment, to support the rescue in itís endeavours with the ultimate aim of rehoming their dog into a suitable home.
Hereís the sticky bit, how much should a rescue ask for and should this amount be pivotal to the acceptance of a dog? Cherry picking rescues are most certainly operating a no donation, no deal  scenario while others accept mere pounds or even buy from an owner when it is felt to be in the dogís best interest to remove him as quickly as possible from the original owner. There is such a wide divide between welfare organisations, who would have believed that priorities, when it comes to dog rescue, could be so far apart?
It may be that a rescue feels that because it doesnít have good fundraising in place it can only operate by taking only the dogs it can rehome after spending only pennies but I feel itís no coincidence that the same rescues often suggest a sizable donation fee when rehoming.
So we move onto another way that some rescues avoid costs, acting as a contact and facilitator, without actually handling the dog at any point. There are many occasions when a rescue may choose with agreement from the owner of the dog that the best way to place a dog in a new home is to avoid a mid stage where a dog may be put in a foster home or kennels and rehome directly from  the original owner to the new adopter. I have no issue with this practise if itís in the best interests of the dog, however, when a dog is passed from hand to hand and a fee is taken for facilitation of the deal then I feel the rescue has to accept some responsibility, or it simply becomes dog dealing.
Proper assessment of the dog and home check of the potential owner would be the very minimal service a rescue should offer and yet it seems there are rescues that choose to conduct their assessment over the phone or just by accepting as gospel, the form filled out by the original owner.  I find this effort at assessment irresponsible and if I were a generous person I would call it naÔve. When someone wants to rehome their dog it may be that the hound in question is a wonderful example of all things canine, it may be obedient and have no hang-ups or objectionable habits and indeed, sunshine may glow from every orifice! Or, it may be that the owner wants to rid themselves of this dog so badly and yet not accept responsibility for itís future that they will tell lie upon lie in layers of fantasy to convince the rescue they have a real bargain who will find a home within milliseconds of being accepted.
This is why hands on assessment is key to accepting a dog into rescue, merely passing on a report of a dogís recent history and hiding behind "well, this is what the owner told usĒ isnít good enough because it may be biased at best. I wonder how one would stand legally if challenged regarding responsibility should an incident occur following rehoming if a fee had been taken but no ground work done?
Taking on a dog that has ongoing health problems is always a drain on the rescue finances but something I personally feel is worse, is accepting a dog into rescue and then capping the amount that can be spent on this dog at an unrealistic figure so that the end result is the demise of the unfortunate beast. Cut your coat according to your cloth seems appropriate here, if the rescue is so disorganised that there is no idea of a possible monetary figure for the years ahead then perhaps itís time for a rethink and put some spending safeguards in place before any more dogs are taken on at all!
Another bee in my particular bonnet this week is actually at the opposite end of the scale, responsibility perhaps taken to the tenth degree. Imagine, if you will, breeding a litter which you have placed in homes to the best of your ability, only to then receive the dreaded phone call that the now young dog has disgraced himself and the owner feels that the dog would benefit from living elsewhere. The breed rescue has been alerted in case you, the breeder, are unable or unwilling to take the dog back.
The details of circumstances under which this young dog has become the unwanted black sheep of the household are shaky but it resulted in a bite injury to a third party. Where would you go from here? As a good, caring breeder do you accept the dog back and hope to rehabilitate and eventually rehome him or accept lifelong responsibility for him within your household or perhaps, as in this case Iím highlighting, you would agree to take the dog back but you will ensure he is put to sleep?
The last option is not exactly guaranteed to convince the owner to place the dog in your hands but when the rescue  also says it will take the dog and euthanise I can see why this distressed owner felt as if a dogís life is cheap despite the thousand pound price tag on the puppy when she bought it.
Placing a dog in a home when there is bite history could be seen  as irresponsible but common sense says assess the individual and the circumstances of that history before making a decision on the life or death of a dog. Tact and diplomacy can be in short supply when every day seems to be coping with other peopleís dogs and their problems but as in this case it shows speed isnít necessarily the most important issue when dealing with a complicated and emotive decision.
This story isnít finished yet but I know the dog has been taken in by a general rescue after proper assessment with a plan in place for his future that at this stage, doesnít involve a lethal injection.