September 21, 1998 - September 25, 1998
Screening - Dogs and Adopters
Day Four - Part One
Subject: CLASS: screening
I think we've been able to cover many of the things you need to think about when screening the dogs you will be faced with. There are no cut and dried way of doing this. You will learn as you go. But hopefully we have helped you get a good picture of the problems and solutions.
Now we need to talk about screening the prospective homes and adoptors. Do you use an adoption application? Do you spend a lot of time on the phone with them on first contact? Do you do Pet Fairs and adoptions at places like Petsmart? Do you always do home checks? Do you do placements outside of your community? How large an area? Do you require a fenced yard? Does the dog have to be a house dog?
Lets hear about these things and any other ideas you have....
Subject: CLASS: Screening Temperament
We in Keeshond Rescue in Illinois have always tried to take any and every Keeshond needing help. This year we've been swimming in Kees! We've had to make some real hard decisions, not taking in a 9 year old and no Kees mixes at all (we take them when we have room). We've got a number of Kees at shelters we can't take right away, thank goodness those shelter's are working with us!
Keeshond is a double coated, long hair breed. Yet, we don't really take "coat condition" in consideration. We'll work for hours, or days if it needs. As a very last resort, we will shave them. Most people aren't really put off by shaving that much, and they get a little break from the needed weekly groomings. No, I'm not saying that we advocate shaving, we don't and don't recommend it. Most of our rescued Keeshonden have been shaved prior to coming to us. It does take 6-12 months for the coat to come back.
If we had the "room," we'd take any & every Kees that needed us! Oh yes, we don't shy away from medical problems either. As a matter of fact, we've had Keeshonden shipped from other parts of the country to Champaign, IL. The Chair of Keeshond Rescue has a great deal with her Vet. We've repaired puppymill puppies with luxating patella's (knees that don't work right, they're born that way) and had wonderful success. We also take in Kees that are heartworm positive, and had great success with that treatment as well!
Most get saved, but we can't save them all!
Subject: CLASS: Re: Screening dogs
Talking about this subject we will find a vast amount of differing opinions, each one with it's merits. Many things are breed specific and should be carefully examined before sentencing someone for their methods.
Ok, for heartworm, I don't care. Positive, we treat, negative, they go on preventative. That's not a determining factor. Temperament and adoptability are.
As for other medical problems: Don't know they exist till the vet examines them or signs show. Shelter dogs usually don't tell us of existing conditions.
I know age is a factor for some breeds that are plentiful. The old ones are harder to place. It's a hard decision to pass up on oldie but a goodie to keep space for that little pup or young dog. As for me, age matters little, temperament is much more important.
If you are a good salesperson, you can find that good dog a home.
I can't afford surgeries that are really expensive (even for my own dogs) that's a hard fact to live with. If, I can make payments, I'll take the advice of my vet as to the success and quality of life with surgery.
I think senior is (sadly) any dog over 6. That's not my idea of old, but the public has this idea.
Matted dogs? That's almost funny. All dogs that have hair will have them to one degree or another if they are in a shelter. Might have to give them a clip. Hair grows back. I'll work for hours on just a few matts though.
Subject: CLASS: screening dogs
Since we live in TX, the heartworm capital of the country it seems, about 1 out of every 2 dogs we get is hw+. We are fortunate though to have a vet willing to do the Immidicide treatment for us at cost, but even still by the time we've gotten the dog spayed/neutered, shots, wormed, hw treated, etc., the cost of their medical work is usually higher than the adoption fee we charge or darn close to it. But the adoption fee we get for the ones that aren't hw+ normally make up the difference and so far (knock on wood) we're still ahead of the game :)
What about if the dog will need surgery? Medication for life?
The only dog we've had that has needed surgery (an FHO for hip displaysia), we were able to raise the funds to do it. We haven't had any yet that has needed medication for life though, but I guess it would depend on what it was for, the cost of the medication, the adoptability of the dog, etc.
Is age a factor? We will also talk later about placing senior dogs, but for now, do you even consider taking any of them. And what do you consider "senior".
Age is a big factor unfortunately :(( We don't normally get people looking to adopt a dog over the age of 3-4 yrs old, so that's the oldest we're able to take in dogs. Aussies normally don't even mature until 2-3 yrs old, but people just think anything over the age of 2 is 'old' and won't consider anything older than that. Sad but true.....
For those of you working with coated dogs, what about the dog that is heavily matted? Big grooming project ahead. How do you handle that?
We will try to save the coat if possible but if not we have had to shave them down and start over again. Luckily we've only had to do this a couple of times...normally just cutting the individual mats out is all that's required. One of my foster homes is a professional groomer and will groom the rescue dogs at no charge and two of our other foster homes show dogs or have shown dogs in the past, so they also know how to groom.
Subject: CLASS: evaluating dogs -- if bitten
A recent tragic and almost horribly tragic situation with a local rescue has prompts these thoughts.
If you are evaluating a dog, HAVE SOMEONE ELSE HOLDING THE LEASH. You don't know the dog (or else you wouldn't have to evaluate it) and having someone in a position to pull the dog away from you could save your life.
And if you are bitten by a dog you are evaluating (i.e., one that is not yet in the program), TAKE CONTROL OF IT IMMEDIATELY. Do not, unless you are very sure of the people, allow its owner to take it away, trusting that they will put it in proper quarantine and get everything straight.
Our friend came very close to having a mandatory series of rabies shots last week: She was bitten and rushed off to the hospital; she reported the bite to doctor, dog control officer and everyone else who needed to know; and the dog's owner told my friend and the D.C.O. that he would take it to the shelter for the mandatory 10 day observation. He did take the dog to the shelter *but* either he didn't tell the full story or the shelter staff wasn't thinking and instead of putting it in the kennel for observation, they immediately euthanized it. Another rescue colleague (bless you, Brenda) managed to find out what had (and hadn't) happened just minutes before the dog's body was to be cremated!!! A few minutes later and ........
P.S. The brain was analyzed and the dog did not have
Subject: CLASS: evaluating dogs -- medical, seniors
Summary of Pam's questions:
Well, it may explain why GRROWLS is so busy ...... and scrambling so hard for funds .... when I say that our answer to all of those questions is "yes, we take them."
Heartworm: Most often we do not know that a dog is heartworm positive until we have already taken it into the program. Shelters around here do not screen for it and, we have learned, some owners don't either (and one of the ones who did lied about it). Our first HW+ case was a sweet, not terribly sturdy 10 year old, Rex. His owner was the one who lied and we discovered that he had first tested positive TWO YEARS before he was surrendered to us. (Contemplate living with a dog, knowing that he is heartworm positive...... It's a very good thing that she moved out of town with a false forwarding address, or his foster mom might have been tempted to violence.) We knew nothing about the procedures and he wasn't a great risk, but we went ahead with the treatment and he survived. We didn't know where the money would come from on that one, but we managed to pay the bills anyway when the time came. And, essentially, that is what we have done whenever we have encountered it since then. Treat, and pray for the money to pay for it and for the dog's surviving the treatment.
So far the prayers have been answered. If we were in an area where the incidence of heartworm was greater, or where fewer people used preventatives, we might well have to develop a different policy. In that respect, I know that we are lucky here in upstate NY.
Other medical problems, surgery, serious matting, medication: Same approach, although we usually know about these ahead of time (or suspect, at any rate). On a few occasions, where an owner-surrender dog was ailing and we suspected cancer or something else that might well be fatal, we have asked the owner to get an evaluation (and paid for it when necessary) before we took the dog. If it was clear that the dog would not live long, we counseled the owners to stay with them and put them to sleep rather than making it go through a transition. We have also gave a DNR order, which was carried out, for a shelter dog who became suspiciously ill and, at the time of surgery, was found to have inoperable cancer.
We take all purebreds except those with temperament problems, but we have to be selective in the mixes, because there are simply so many. Health considerations enter into that decision, and on one occasion we declined to take a mix that we initially put a "hold" on because she was discovered to have major medical problems.
So far, we've been lucky in that the only lifetime medication needs have been realtively inexpensive and the adopters have been willing to assume that cost.
Seniors: Older Goldens are not impossible to place, although it does take more time, and we are committed to taking them. The burden on us and on potential adopters is lessened because of our "Uncle Sherman Fund." This was established by one of the original founders of GRROWLS, in honor of "Uncle Sherman", a lovely senior that they almost didn't take because of medical needs. This person continues to donate $1,000 each year to the fund. It is available to anyone who adopts a dog older than 7 and who, at any time thereafter, runs into extraordinary medical costs with it. The availability of this fund sort of "levels the playing field" for seniors and also makes it easier for senior citizens (often on a fixed-income) to take a senior companion. If your rescue ever gets someone who wants to make a significant contribution, a fund like this is extremely helpful!
Subject: CLASS: Re: Screening dogs
OK, talking about taking in/screening animals...
Question: Where do people (rescue groups) stand on taking in a dog, even though you know it is not placeable (due to health, temperament, etc) because it is in a bad situation and will probably die in a less than humane way. Would you take it in knowing that you will take it directly to the vet to put to sleep humanely.
I would like to take in all of the dogs (mutts and strays), though of course cannot. However, if I know an owner will just dump it in the woods, or bring it to a kill pound to end it's life horribly, I would rather give the dog a chance first to see if it IS truely adoptable; and if not, to have the last moments with someone who cares. BTW, if a dog HAS to be pts, I will stay with it 'til the end - they deserve that! What are your thoughts on the matter?
Lila Borge Wills
Subject: CLASS: Re: Screening dogs
I would rather give the dog a chance first to see if it IS truely adoptable; and if not, to have the last moments with someone who cares. BTW, if a dog HAS to be pts,I will stay with it 'til the end - they deserve that! What are your thoughts on the matter?
We will take a dog from a horrible situation without full evaluation, knowing that we may have to put him down. If someone approaches us with a dog that we cannot take in for temperament reasons *but* the dog is unaltered (and likely to go breeding more little bad-tempered Goldens and Golden mixes), we will either work with the family if they are willing to get it altered (providing FOA certificates, sending them to one of the vets we use, even outright paying for it in the rare case) or we will take it into the program, knowing that it might well be put down.
WARNING: there is a big risk, as others have pointed out, if you do the last-mentioned without telling the surrendering owner and letting them believe that they are saving the dog's life by turning it over to "rescue". As I've mentioned before, our surrender forms have a place that says" GRROWLS reserves the right to euthanize a dog that it determines cannot be placed, for temperament problems or other reasons. In the event that GRROWLS determines that this dog cannot be placed, I ____do ___do not (check one) request that every effort be made to contact me and offer me the option of reclaiming him or her." MOST, by far, of the people who are turning over a bad-temperament dog do not check that they want to be contacted -- at some level they know.
And yes, except for unusual circumstances, we spend time with the dog beforehand and stay with it, making it as kind as possible.
Subject: Re: CLASS: evaluating dogs
Betsey's post about evaluating dogs reminded me of a seminar I took last year done by Sue Sternberg through a company called Puppyworks (they come up in a net search). It was called "Temperment Evaluation of Shelter Dogs and Behavioral Predictions". Most of the attendees were area shelter workers (a local shelter person had told me about it) but a few local rescue groups who attended, myself included, felt the seminar was very worthwhile. It was the first time I had seen an actual worksheet of ways to do an evaluation. It was not presented as a pass "all or nothing" but as an additional way to evaluate.
Subject: CLASS: evaluating dogs
I was there too and I thought it was *great* ! I keep the work sheet in my backpack, to use, wherever I go.
MOnica B. - Rednoyz@Kincyb.com - Orange Co, So CA
Subject: Re: CLASS: Grooming
I think this is the general feeling from those working with coated breeds. Now...as a professional groomer for the pass 20+ yrs. in So. Calif and No. Calif..let me add my thoughts.
Here in the summer it is HOT and we have these horrible little grass yawns called "foxtails". They can get into a coat and will draw themselves into the skin and cause nasty sores. So in the summer in So. Calif I shave down many, many big coated dogs. The dogs LOVE it! The owners love it, no brushing for the summer, the dog is wash and wear. They don't have dog hair all over the house. We usually let it grow out for the winter and then as soon as it gets warm in the Spring, my phone starts ringing, "get this coat off".
I don't put new dogs thru the process of dematting if they are bad. I personally don't think it's fair to the dog. Hair grows back. In fact, when someone contacts me about adopting a Smooth Fox Terrier I ask if the reason is the short coat. If they say yes, I tell them to pick a breed by temperament not coat and if the can't live with the coat, cut it off! Many people I have talked to never thought about that and then were able to consider a breed more appropriate for them.
Yes a coated breed in full coat is lovely. I was raised by a beautiful sable Collie. But in this day and age not every pet owner has the time and interest in keeping that coat up. In the hot areas of the country, please don't make it sound like a terrible thing to shave the coat off. You might be surprised to find out that some prospective owners would love to adopt your breed except for the coat work. Let them know that it's an option.
I use a #7F to take down the coat. This leaves the coat the same length as a Doberman or Boxer. Plenty of length to protect from the sun. Easy and quick to do (if you know what you're doing). Many groomers use a shorter blade and it's usually not necessary. I've been able to get a #7F thru just about all matted coats. I'd be happy to talk about this more by private mail. But I hope those of you with coated breeds, will consider not making the short coat a "bad thing". Many pet owners will love it. So much easier in the summer! JMHO...
Subject: Re: CLASS: Re screening dogs
Regarding dogs of bad temperament (nasty and people aggressive)....
I know of rescue people that work with guard breeds or breeds with "image" problems (Rottie, Pit Bull, etc) that will take the bad ones from shelters and see that they are pts (put to sleep).
These are rescue people working in areas where gang members are cruising shelters for dogs, and where shelters don't screen either the dog or the adoptor. Also don't spay/neuter.
These rescue people feel that they are getting the bad dogs out of the shelters instead of them getting into the hands of the gangs. There they would be a danger to the public and be used for breeding more. These are dogs that cause city councils to enact "breed specific laws". This is very difficult work and potentilly dangerous work, but I have to admire their willingness to do it. This is certainly not a problem in many areas, but in some metro areas of big cities, it is a real problem.
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