Have you ever wondered how dogs come to be in rescue?

For the last several years, the USA has been in a hard recession. It hasn’t just hurt people.  When banks foreclose  and people lose their homes; when corporations outsource overseas and workers lose their jobs; when two-income families spend all they have to care for an elder parent or educate a child; when divorce or aging means that someone has to choose between the rent and the groceries, all too often there’s nothing left for the animals.  These hard economic realities are a primary cause of shelter crowing and owner surrender. Other contributors are unscupulous breeders who’re in it for the money. They breed dogs like there’s no tomorrow. Those not sold are dumped on the roadside or in the pound. And then there are poorly informed buyers who don’t know the breed before they buy, and folks who can’t afford to treat a dog for a life-threatening issue.  Last but not least are the people who can’t or don’t train their dogs.  These are the main reasons dogs end up in rescue.

County Shelters. For rescue organizations that participate in Maricopa County’s New Hope program, the process begins with the County shelter’s evening “E List.”  “E” stands for “euthanize.” The “E List” is published nightly to alert “New Hope” rescues like DHDR to dogs due to be euthanized the next morning. These certified rescues may remove dogs from the E List in order to save them.  When we “pull” such a dog, we evaluate it for temperament and signs of severe disease or disorder,. In questionable cases, we may consult with shelter staff or our professional behaviorist/trainer, and involve other shelter dogs to see how our prospect reacts to a variety of interactions and situations. If we find that the dog is fundamentally sound, we  take the dog out of the shelter directly to our vet for a thorough intake exam, a bath, and a nail trim. The process for working with area Humane Society shelters and shelters in other counties is basically the same.

Owner Surrenders. Emails, classifieds, and phone calls alert us when someone wants to surrender a dog. First, we determine who has legal ownership. Then we explore options that might allow the owner to keep the dog with its family after all.  DHDR has transported dogs to and paid for basic vet care including vaccination and alteration, and we have provided complimentary assessment and training when we know that a competent owner really wants to keep the dog and only needs a little help to do so. After all, keeping a beloved dog with a qualified owner is fully consistent with our mission. It also makes a lot more sense and costs a good deal less than removing it only to place it elsewhere.

Whether it’s a foundling or stray or an owner’s beloved companion, when keeping the dog is not an option, a DHDR volunteer evaluates it for temperament and physical soundness.  If the dog is fundamentally sound, we negotiate the terms for taking in the dog, obtain a written owner surrender form that gives us legal ownership, and get a detailed history, all available vet records, the registration and pedigree (if any), proof of alteration, and any medications, clean gear, and supplies the owner is willing to donate. Then, as above, we transport the dog directly to our vet.

Rehabilitation starts with the initial vet intake exam. Our standard intake includes alteration, micro-chipping, a hematology and chemistry blood panel, tests for heartworm, erlichia, Lyme Disease, and anaplasmosis, a fecal analysis for parasites and giardia; a physical exam; all vaccinations; a bath and a nail trim; and a heartworm preventive treatment. This process allows us to diagnose and treat health conditions that might not be visible to the naked eye, provide our adopters a detailed medical report,  and offer adopters the best-quality rescues in the state.

Fostering.Without a doubt, after vet care, the most important factor in rehabilitation is the foster home. This is where we learn significant details about the dog’s history, temperament, training, and behavior, and where we have the chance to address any issues we can. This is where a traumatized Dobie learns what it means to live happily with a human, and where training, dietary, and health deficiencies can be fixed. Dogs with no issues and good basic training can be placed quickly. Dogs with histories of serious abuse or illness may need months in foster care.

Only those who are ready for placement appear on our lists of adoptables, but you should know that at any given time, DHDR may also be working intensively with one or more Dobies in need of extensive rehabilitation. These, of course, often turn out to be our greatest triumphs. 

Placement.Now the search for the best qualified adopter begins. No need to say much about that here because we detail our approach in the Adopt and the About Us links. Suffice to say that placement begins only after we’ve done the best job we can to select, rehabilitate, and ready a great dog for you, and concludes only when we’re satisfied that you are the best home for our canine kid.  

Well, no. Actually, it doesn’t “conclude.”  We stand by our dogs and our adopters for the life of the dog. If you need help, we’re a phone call away.

Returns. Alas, despite our best efforts, sometimes it happens. Like humans, dogs need time to adjust to change, and dogs with new canine or feline housemates sometimes just don’t like each other. We rule out instant antagonisms in the introduction process, and we reduce the odds of conflict by our screening and placement procedures, but sometimes things happen that nobody can predict. Another example is the adopter who is in love with the idea of a dog but finds that the reality is too much to handle. We try to make sure that adopters really are ready, but when candidates don’t know their own hearts, it’s hard for us to know them. For these reasons, DHDR’s adoption contract allows you 30 days to return a dog for a full refund. We will accept any of our dogs at any time, but after 30 days, no refund is available.

Please feel free to contact us if you have questions.