by Susan Hoffman
You've fallen in love with a specific breed but aren't sure if that breed's characteristics and your lifestyle are a good match. Perhaps a purebred puppy is beyond your budget. Maybe you simply love your dog and want to help other dogs of his breed. These are all good reasons to check out breed rescue groups.
How Dog Breed Advocates Work
Breed rescue groups collaborate with local animal shelters, breeders and veterinarians to place homeless purebred dogs into new homes. These groups are becoming a trusted resource for people who want to adopt a specific breed, especially adult dogs. "We simplify the search process," says Cil Henson, president of Golden Beginnings Golden Retriever Rescue in Houston.
Breed rescue groups bring a high level of knowledge and understanding about the breed into the adoption equation. Every breed has unique characteristics, which is one reason why so many purebreds need rescuing. It's important that a breed and its owner fit well together.
"Our advice to potential adopters about a Golden Retriever's behavior and care provides the foundation for success," says Henson. "And, because our dogs live in foster homes with experienced Golden Retriever owners, we can make a good assessment about a specific dog's temperament, personality and health. It helps us match each dog with a family in which everybody can thrive."
Education Is Key
People often buy a breed from a pet store or a breeder because they like the look, but they haven't done any research about the breed. That's a big mistake. For example, "Siberian Huskies are absolutely adorable as puppies, but after a year or so, that cute puppy is an adult dog that is shedding gobs of fur everywhere and escaping on a regular basis," says Robert Baker, the PR chair for Tails of the Tundra Siberian Husky Rescue in Colmar, Penn. "Huskies are easily bored, and if they're not kept busy they will find ways to amuse themselves, including de-stuffing the sofa. That's when we get the call saying the owner needs to re-home the dog."
A substantial number of dogs are surrendered to rescues because owners don't realize how to properly care for a dog or can't handle the costs involved. Sometimes the dog is an innocent victim of a family breakup. Sometimes it's a matter of lifestyle. Lap dogs simply won't thrive as outdoor pets, and high-energy breeds will be unhappy if they're cooped up in a small living space with no exercise.
Get Involved With Your Favorite Breed
If you love a breed and know a lot about it, your local breed rescue group would love your help. "Lack of enough foster homes is the main factor that limits the number of dogs we are able to help," says Baker. "Yes, it is a lot of work, but it is also extremely rewarding when you see how happy the dog and the adopter are." Henson agrees: "Foster homes are the heart and soul of our organization."
Even if you can't be a foster parent, you can volunteer your time to help with everything from office work to grooming. Most of these organizations rely heavily on financial contributions because adoption fees cover only a portion of actual foster costs, so you can get involved with fundraising too.
It's easy to find a breed rescue group for practically any breed.
The American Kennel Club has an A-to-Z list on their website, and you can type "breed rescue" into your search engine for additional organizations by breed and by state.
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Pets | Dogs: Breed Rescue Groups: Saving Dogs in Need of Homes