How do I choose a reputable rescue/breeder?
A question so many humans ask themselves while on the search for their new best friend. How you choose your canine bestie matters. More than you know. Aligning a choice that works for your heart and soul needs to be front and center. You wouldn’t be asking the question on how to find a reputable rescue or breeder if you didn’t already know that not all dog rescues and breeders are created equally. Unfortunately, there has grown a very dark side to dog rescue. There are fake fundraisers and people who steal dogs to “re-home” them among other things. Yes, sadly, dogs are now a business to some. There is no official title, or label, or website to check to ensure that the person/rescue you are interacting with is all in it for the dogs. So, it is up to you the, #prospectivepawrent, to perform due diligence in consciously asking questions to ensure you are supporting a reputable dog rescue/breeder. Failing to do so, and (un)knowingly supporting the opposite, is detrimental and only helps the ‘dog business’ thrive. You know you want to do better! Adopting a dog has some seriously inspiring feels to it, it makes your heart feel good, and it makes you feel proud to tell others that you helped your new bestie start living their best life! The magic adopting brings can’t be denied, so if this is the route is calling to you here is what you need to know!
1). Is the organization “Not-for-profit”?
Most reputable rescue organizations will be designated by Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) as a charity or not-for-profit. This means that the organization complies with the CRA’s requirements, and has been issued a charitable registration number. There is a big difference between registered charities and not-for-profits, or societies. Not-for-profits have many more rules they have to follow and their financial information is publicly available. Being transparent with their financial management is a great green flag to look for. This does not mean there won’t be reasonable adoption fees to support the ongoing care and placement of animals, or even that there won’t be paid employees. (Think of the SPCA!) However most not-for-profits are completely volunteer run like us at Paws it Forward! Curious to see if your rescue is on the list or charities? Check out: List of Charities – basic search (cra-arc.gc.ca). Looking up the status of a not-for-profit (society) is not quite as simple, but an inquiry email can be sent and more information found by visiting this website: Not-for-Profit Organizations – Province of British Columbia (gov.bc.ca)
2). Take to Social Media!
Social media can be used as a wonderful learning tool! Being always mindful of the source, for what you read online is not always true, what is the overall energy you are feeling from this rescue? Are they about education, connection, and betterment of dogs? Do they align with who you are? Do you enjoy their posts and memes? What can you learn about them?? If the overall vibe is feeling yucky to you, there is a lot of gossip, or you can’t find anything online, that’s a red flag to listen to. This is a heart and soul lead industry, you’ll be able to feel it!
3). Expect to be Screened and for a wait for your perfect pup to align.
Reputable, dedicated, caring dog breeders and rescues have their work cut out. There are many puppy millers and back yard breeders in the world and reputable breeders must perform due diligence in who gets their puppies. The same holds true for the dog rescue world. For the reputable dog rescuers, this means they are screening you as much as you should be screening them. You will certainly be expected to fill out an application, provide references, and be willing to allow an in-home visit. The best rescues want to ensure the perfect placements, and that’s ultimately what you are hoping for too! The more open and honest you are about your needs and hopes the better you can work together. Rescues need to get a solid feel for who their dogs are and take the time to match it with the best families for success. Patience is key! A reputable rescue will NEVER allow you to simply choose from a selection of photos, pay a fee, and simply fly a dog out to you. This is a recipe for disaster. There could be a poor connection or fit to your family, and have hidden or untreated health issues. These less than reputable rescues will often not take the dog back, and this is how great rescues like Paws It Forward come to have many of their surrendered dogs.
4). Don’t be shy, ask to meet the dog and ask questions!
The one thing I can guarantee you is, the people volunteering so passionately for rescues love chatting dogs! While they are busy people, if they are serious about placing a dog with you they will love to see your commitment to understanding your new bestie. Always meet the dog you plan to adopt before rescuing! During the screening process feel free to ask about their medical records, their past, how they can to be surrendered, what they feel the dog will need to flourish in life. They may not have the exact answers, but it will likely paint you a great picture of what your friend is truly like! Refusal to allow you to meet the dog, provide medical records, or answer questions about how they came to have the dog surrendered are big ole red flags.
5). Read contracts carefully!
Any exchange of property (and yes sadly, our besties are merely considered property in the eyes of the law), should be accompanied with a signed contract that satisfies both parties. A contract not only adds credibility to a rescue group, but it also ensures your rights and responsibilities as this dog’s new life partner as well. Its also important to make sure you understand their rehoming policy. While some rescue groups won’t take a dog back, they will put it in writing what you are to do with the dog if you cannot keep him. A rescue group that gets upset at your inquiry with this question should concern you. Of course you always plan for the dog should stay with you as its forever home, but life is full of unexpected issues as these dogs and rescue should already very well know. It is simply best to be prepared, and a solid rescue recognizes this.
6). Consider Fostering or Volunteering!
Not only does this give you some great insight into how your chosen rescue runs, it will help set you up for success with your new bestie! By practicing patience, love, acceptance, and understanding as a foster dog parent, you can learn new skills and awareness for your own future pup! Not only that, it looks great on a resume and provides lots of good feels.
7). Listen to your GUT!
Follow that intuition! Dog rescues are all in it for the betterment of the dogs so if something feels off, it is. They will be open, communicative, and supportive. Health, education, and connection will be the center of attention. Ultimately, it is not worth risking supporting a scammer or adopting a stolen dog because of your desire to “help” no matter how perfect the dog seems. Quite simply, it would do the opposite of help! Ensuring you are working with someone reputable, either breeder or rescue, will help end dogs as business by ensuring greed cannot be the center driving force.
Ultimately we are all hoping to find our perfect match pup so we can connect and co-create a healthy, happy, well balanced life together! Whether you choose to adopt, or source a reputable breeder, choosing consciously and listening to your gut has never been more important in ending dog homelessness. Our current global climate has made shelters emptier than ever, pandemic puppies became a real thing! While this is fantastic news, only with continued dedication to education, choosing reputable sources for our best friends, and creating conscious connection will we all ensure future success. What was your biggest take away from this read? By reading this blog and passing on your favourite tid bits to your friends, you too can take part in the #reputablerescue movement and make a change for better care for our canine besties!