Thursday, 2 August 2012

Dog Rescue

Dog Rescue Biography
(July 2006) This is a story about the facts of life inside Siberian husky rescue in Sydney, Australia. Even though most people know what pounds are and what can happen inside them behind closed doors, the journey a rescue dog takes through shelters and pounds starts long before that and ends long after it, and along the way is bounced and buffeted by society and politics in a way that is sometimes startling. The reality of life in rescue is something that you can sometimes only learn through experience.


Anatomy of Rescue
The Rescue Manual
Mission: Rescue
Are They Deserving Dogs
Becoming a Pound Puppy
Death Row Dogs
But There's Plenty of Rescue Groups
The Problem Dogs
Angels From Heaven
Dog, after Dog, after Dog
Quarantine and Disease
Rescue as an Industry
Dogs on Trial
Reputation and Professionalism
The Final Result
Okay I think it’s official, my new name in the Husky Club is “Rescue Guy”, probably because all I talk or write about is Husky rescue… Well actually I never set out for it to be that way but I don’t mind at all, yes rescue is a bit of a theme for me these days – I guess I just love it!
When I started in Husky rescue at the end of last year I had the idea it would be just another part of my life with dogs.  You know, something in addition to the everyday Husky things like frying up fur with my breakfast and filling in craters in the yard.  Something positive to help them.  I never thought I’d find it so involving though, and now I have a good deal of enthusiasm in being able to share what I’ve learned from top to bottom, I hope you won’t be bored to tears.

Anatomy of Rescue

Rescuing a Husky sounds simple.  You take it from the pound, look after it for a bit, advertise it on the web and find it a new home.  How easy is that!  Well when you get down to it you find there’s a few small catches, like these for starters:

How do you find out about which dogs are in need?  How do you get to them if they’re a long way away?  How do cope if they’re ill, antisocial or noisy when you get them?  What if you can’t afford the pound fees?  Where and how do you advertise them?  How do you know if you’ve really found a good home for them?  What happens if the new home they go to can’t handle them?  Who pays all the vet expenses?  What if you never get any calls for them?  What if another dog’s in need but you’re full up?  What forms do you legally have to fill in?  Do you need insurance?  How do you control disease and quarantine?  Who’ll take over rescue when you go on holidays?  Where do all these dogs keep coming from and how do you stop it?  Does it actually work? And is it all really worth it anyway?

Trying to deal with all these questions at once makes rescue look impossible, but actually there are simple answers to everything and it’s not all as impossible as it seems when you go through it step by step.

The Rescue Manual

If you wanted to start up a rescue effort in your area you might find yourself very much on your own even if you were surrounded by other rescue volunteers. Joining a rescue group takes some initiative and can be a bit like being handed the Rescue Manual and told to go make it all work, there’s not much instruction on how to get started.

The manual for rescue doesn’t actually exist yet, and even if it did, it would probably never be finished.  It would always grow and evolve and adapt, as it should, to the changing state of society.

Mission: Rescue

The unanswered question behind rescue is, “What are we trying to do?”  To answer this properly, first there’s some things we need to know:

· There is an abundant and ever present supply of rescue dogs looking for homes; Think of rescue dogs as a renewable resource.  There’s lots and lots and lots of them, too many to count, and there always will be – but using this as an excuse not to help them is still really just that, an excuse.

· Not every dog can or should be saved.  In rescue we have to make active choices about the dogs we allow to be destroyed, as much as about the dogs we save.  It’s ugly, but we can’t ignore the fact that using our limited resources to save one dog is effectively the same as choosing to doom the others.  Our mission doesn’t’ have to be about saving all of them but should be about making a commitment to those we can.

· Rescue is absolutely one hundred percent not about saving dogs from death row. Well okay, half of it is.  Saving dogs from euthanasia is a huge win in itself, but the other half is finding homes where rescue dogs brings years of joy to those that take them in.  With both halves you have a higher purpose in saving dogs, and one that works well.

· Good dogs die and bad dogs get re-homed.  You kind of have to accept it’s a lottery for the dogs, and sometimes it’s not about the merits but simply timing and dumb luck that determines who gets saved and who dies.  Fortunately almost all the dogs saved are good dogs, but equally don’t make it your mission to only save the best or most needy or you’ll go nuts. Think instead of rescue as helping deserving dogs find loving homes, and it’s the success of these together that counts.

· Every home is after something different so even completely opposite dogs can each find their perfect match eventually.  Monika Biernacki says there are no 'unhomeable' dogs just dogs with no homes, and she’s got a point.

· We invited dogs into our world, they didn’t invade it.  This is an argument of social responsibility, and not the weightiest one we can come up with sure, but it’s worth recalling which species domesticated which.

· Rescue is a business.  It’s about marketing and products and money and being professional, even if we don’t realize it.  I love Huskies, I really do, and even though they’re living breathing creatures far removed from some production line, it’s still important to see them as a product in the business of rescue.  If we do then we’ll manage supply and demand, logistics and finance, and all the other parts of rescue much better, and all without sacrificing our values.

There’s a year’s worth of discussion in each of these points, but for now we move on and consider our mission statement.

“Our mission is to do as much as possible to find good homes for deserving Huskies.”

This isn’t a perfect mission statement but it’s still not bad for now.  It doesn’t say that we’ll try to stop all dogs from being put down.  It doesn’t say we’ll work tirelessly to find perfect homes for everyone.  It doesn’t discuss whether one dog is more or less deserving than another, it just tries to improve a small corner of the world by finding good homes for some good dogs.  Maybe we can meet all the other ideals in the future, but for now the mission statement simply applies to today: to make life better for deserving dogs.
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