What to expect when dealing with an Animal Rescue Group
July 27, 2012 5:30 PM   Subscribe

What to expect when dealing with an Animal Rescue Group?

Puppy Rescue Group questions.

About 3 weeks ago, my husband and I rescued a puppy from behind a dumpster. She was starving and scared. We have taken her to our vet and had her treated for mange and roundworm. She no has a clean bill of health. We have had no luck finding her family (if she even had one). No microchip, no tags, no ads. 

I wish we could keep her. But, we already have 2 small dogs, a very small ard, and she is a Shepard mix. We have been trying to find someone to adopt her. She is extremely sweet, housebroken and crate trained.

We contacted several rescue groups in town. All of the have said that they are not taking on any new dogs. We finally heard back from a puppy rescue group that said they could help, if we could foster her. They say they will help with vaccinations and such. This is great because we have already spent quite a bit of money. We are supposed to take her to their events. Any adoptions will have to go through them and there is a fee. I looked them up online and they seem ligit. 

I have never dealt with a group like this and don't know what to expect. The lady I was emailing seemed nice enough. She put me in touch with a guy who would be our coordinator. His emails were curt.  We emailed back and forth about 3 times and he never wrote more than 2 sentences. He never addressed me and never signed his name. The name on his account is listed on their website. It just sort of put me off.  I am wondering how concerned I should be. 

I am meeting with the coordinator tomorrow. What questions should we be asking him? 
(We are in Houston, if that makes a difference)
posted by nimsey lou to Pets & Animals (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I wouldn't worry too much about curt emails unless you encounter other troubles. Different folks have different email styles, and he could be writing back on a phone, especially if he's a volunteer doing this alongside a full job or something.
posted by needs more cowbell at 6:59 PM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I wouldn't worry about the curt emails either. I only have secondhand experience with rescue groups, but from what I've seen, volunteers are generally informal and understandably not too concerned with signing their emails.

I wish we could keep her. But, we already have 2 small dogs, a very small ard, and she is a Shepard mix

If you really wish to keep the dog, my significant other's German Shepherd Dog lives with three 12-15 pound terrier mixes. He's never stepped on them or caused them injury in some other way. The only problem occured when a small dog had major surgery, and the GSD kept pawing at her in concern, but he didn't hurt her. In addition, some shepherds are quite laid back when it comes to running around, so a small yard and regular walks might be more than enough. It depends on the dog.
posted by plaintiff6r at 7:25 PM on July 27, 2012

Keep in mind that these groups are often staffed by a handful of people, all of whom have very busy lives -- full time jobs, families, kids in school, ongoing issues with foster animals, trying to organize meds at discount rates from various pharma companies, checking on food supplies, going over finances, planning fundraising events, trying to manage several foster placements at once, trying to help someone outside of the group find a home for their 5 puppies, etc.

I worked with an animal rescue group. We'd get at least 3-4 emails like yours a day, and we were a small group in a smallish area, with many other local rescues. The first few months I was there, I'd write very long and friendly responses. About 9 months in, I'd personally helped to organize hundreds of foster homes and placements, and by necessity, my interactions had to change a bit. I tried not to be curt, but I did find that a business-like tone went a long way and was easier to maintain for months on end.

Meet with him. Ask how it works with their rescue. How involved are you in the placement? Do you visit potential foster houses? How long will you be fostering? Can you talk to another foster parent or work with someone to ease the process, kind of like a "Big Sister" relationship? My guess is that he's efficient but cares deeply about these animals -- otherwise, why would he bother wasting hours a day, for years on end? It's a LOT of work to run these rescues.

Start an easy wordpress or blogspot blog. Set up your phone to take pix and post them automatically. Take a photo a day of your little buddy and post it with a cute caption. List the blog on the animal rescue profile and make a little Facebook page, asking friends to spread the word to local acquaintances. She'll probably be adopted rather quickly.

And hello, can we see a pic of the cutie?
posted by barnone at 7:39 PM on July 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

So far it all sounds normal. I have worked with the similarly styled rescue groups.

As to the terse emails, these people just don't have the time to be polite. They are so inundated with an overwhelming work load, that longer emails are just not possible. Don't take it personally.
posted by Vaike at 8:00 PM on July 27, 2012

Hope this link works. Here she is... https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=401613373229862&set=a.104809349576934.2512.100001436088526&type=3
posted by nimsey lou at 8:03 PM on July 27, 2012

Picture link does not work. I have very good friends who foster Golden Retrievers. After ten years or so, they've helped find homes for dozens of doggies. They attend the showcase events, and the doggies always get a lot of attention there. They started the same way you did, found a dog in a parking lot, already owned two, etc. One benefit of fostering is that you will have a trove of information about your foster to pass on to possible owners, insuring a good fit. Also, the groups usually are pretty strict about who gets to adopt, my friend's group does a home visit before anyone can get one. My friends never intended to do it after the first one, but they really enjoy it.
posted by raisingsand at 8:21 PM on July 27, 2012

barnone has it regarding the brief and what to ask the coordinator. I have worked in a similar capacity and sometimes you just don't have time to write more than one or two words to someone trying to relinquish an animal to you. It's really tough work and it can feel like everywhere you turn someone needs to you take an animal off their hands.

If I were in your position I would ask also the resuce coordinator if you could have the name and number of at least one family they have successfully placed a dog with, preferably a family that has had the dog over a year. Also ask if it would be possible for you to talk with one or two of their other foster people. Make sure you'e real clear on how the expenses will be handed. Will you be reimbursed? Will the rescue pay vet fees directly? They should have you sign a foster contract, and if that contract doesn't explicitly state how money will be handled, you should add that part to your and the shelter's contract.

I have a Shepard/Collie mix who lives very happily with a 10lb dog, a 20lb dog, and two cats and a small yard. I would strongly encourage you to try and make it work. Three dogs are great!
posted by OsoMeaty at 8:42 PM on July 27, 2012

nimsey lou: "What questions should we be asking him?"

* Which veterinarian will you have to use? Some rescue groups have arrangements with certain vets who offer discounts to rescues.

* "They will help with vaccinations and such" - What exactly does that mean? Will they send you some amount of money periodically? Will they expect you to keep receipts and submit for reimbursement? Will they reimburse you for what you've already spent? Will they reimburse you for food, collar, grooming, treats, medication, neutering, surgery, etc., etc.? Will they expect you to use the food they provide (often donated)?

* How much publicity will they do toward getting this pup adopted? Will they want you to spread the word, or do they have some organized way of doing this, like a web site, FB page, adoption events, etc.? Will you be expected to take the pup to these events, or to meet potential adopters, or will they have someone who can help with that when necessary?

* If you decide to keep the dog, will they charge you the regular adoption fee, or a discounted fee, or no fee?

* Are you expected to do any training of this pup, over and above the usual housetraining and socialization? (Pro tip - start taking the pup on car rides and to PetSmart, etc., as soon as it's feasible, and let folks pet him and fuss over him! Nobody wants to adopt a scared pup who shrinks from human contact.) Also, get him used to a crate. At adoption events, he might have to spend time in one if there aren't enough volunteers to have him leashed.

I am a transporter for various rescue groups (and a failed fosterer*), and I've worked with ones that are completely aboveboard about all this and treat their foster families well, and I've also seen plenty of situations where promises were made and not kept. Unfortunately, sometimes people involved in rescue have bigger hearts than wallets (and sometimes, common sense).

I wouldn't worry at all about this man's email. As in any group of people, some folks just come across better in print than others. And it's not always the most tech-savvy folks who get into rescue, ime.

This is a wonderful, caring thing you are doing by fostering a homeless dog. Good luck, and remember that the good karma you are earning is way more important than the money you will be spending...

* Two of my four dogs were only supposed to be "temporary" houseguests.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 8:42 AM on July 28, 2012

Another question you should ask - What happens if the pup develops health problems? Who is responsible for the charges involved in treating the dog, as well as making decisions about his care? Again, if you have to use a certain veterinarian, the rescue probably will pay them directly, but make sure you understand how that would work.

Also, most rescues will have some wording in their adoption contract that states if the adopter can't keep the dog for whatever reason at any point in the dog's life, they are to return the dog to the rescue. Are you willing to be the place where he goes if he's returned, whether it's soon after the adoption ("We didn't realize how much work a puppy can be, so we don't want him anymore!") or years down the road ("I lost my job and have to move to a cheaper apartment where I can't keep animals")? It's not necessarily something you have to do, but if you have fond memories of your time with Foster Pup, you may WANT to have him back if his adoption falls through later on.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 8:51 AM on July 28, 2012

Any update? I can't see the pic :-(
posted by barnone at 7:50 PM on August 9, 2012

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