To read more about my background and the reason for my involvement in dog rescue, click here.
I am the national rescue chair for two breeds: Manchester Terriers and Ibizan Hounds. What does this mean? I am a member of two professional organizations for dog owners, breeders, and enthusiasts: the American Manchester Terrier Club (AMTC) and the Ibizan Hound Club of the United States (IHCUS). Both are called parent clubs, they are members of AKC and selected as the AKC sanctioned guardian for the breeds in the U.S. Every AKC recognized breed has its own parent club that is made up of people who love and own the breed. Many of them are breeders but it’s not a stipulation for membership and almost all of these parent clubs have rescues or an arm that helps fund rescues in their breed.
“According to a recent study, 95% of the animals that you will find in shelters are mixed breeds and those who are purebred often come from backyard breeders and puppy mills.”
I have roots in both breeding and rescue. To those who are not familiar with the world of dog shows and breeders, this might sound like a contradiction. However, the idea that breeders contribute to the number of homeless animals is simply not true. According to a recent study, 95% of the animals that you will find in shelters are mixed breeds and those who are purebred often come from backyard breeders and puppy mills. That’s because hobby breeders, the ones who are acting responsibly, sell their puppies on spay/neuter contracts and require their puppies be returned to them immediately if the owner must give up the dog. They take this pretty seriously and their contracts have clauses for reclaiming the dog, should the owner not comply. This method of keeping dogs that we breed out of shelters and rescue groups is pretty effective, however, some breeders are not responsible and some owners fail to communicate with the breeder when they need to give up their dog. For that, we have rescue as a safety net. This is not a new concept. Parent clubs are the original rescue groups, and long before we had email or the internet, they were spending thousands of dollars a year rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming dogs in their respective breeds and the vast majority of these funds are donated by the breeders themselves. Rescue dogs are taken into a volunteer’s home, spayed/neutered and placed for fees that are far below what was spent rehabilitating the dog.
While animal rights propaganda would have you believe that all breeders are evil and don’t care about homeless dogs, just the opposite is true. We love our breeds so much that we want to do everything that we can to make sure they are as loved and well cared for as our own dogs. For that reason, there is a rescue out there for every breed of dog and many of them are supported by breeders. Decades before there were internet-based rescue transport groups, there were telephone chains of breeders networking to move rescued dogs to foster homes and adopted homes via the network of owners traveling inter-state to AKC dog competitions.
So what do I do as the rescue chair?
At the most basic level, I’m the national point of contact for the breed. I respond to emails and phone calls from shelters, owners and concerned members of the public. I work with them to identify whether the dog in question is in fact a Manchester Terrier or Ibizan Hound. If the dog is not one of these breeds, I help them to identify what breed or mix of breeds the dog may be and suggest contacts from other rescues who may be able to help. If the dog is a Manchester or Ibizan, I ask how I can assist them. Many times, the shelter or owners asks us to take the dog into our foster program. In the case of a shelter, this frees up precious space for other dogs. If it’s a shelter with a high euthanasia rate, we are saving two lives for everyone one dog that we take. Many shelters with a high population of dogs will euthanize when their kennels get full. Purebred rescues have helped to cut down on this practice significantly and have contributed to a large number of shelters ability to become no-kill shelters and stop euthanizing animals.
Once I agree to help a dog, I search for a volunteer who is somewhat close to where the dog is located. The volunteer is almost always a member of our club but we do have volunteers who are not members. I work with the volunteer on what the dog needs (medically and behaviorally) to be fit for adoption. Once the dog is ready for adoption, I screen homes and help facilitate the transfer of the dog from their foster home to their adoptive home. Of course, sometimes I’m the foster home and the one rehabilitating the dog but often, the dog is not located in my area and I have to work with volunteers.
I also help owners who want to keep their dogs, but are having a hard time with training or behavior. As a breed expert, I provide advice on training and resources that can help them improve their relationship with their dog and work through problems that might otherwise cause the owner to give up their dog.