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Canine Rescue Groups

By: Dr. Dawn Ruben

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When the movie 101 Dalmatians aired in 1996, children and parents clamored to get a Dalmatian. It didn't take long for people to realize that they couldn't meet the needs of this excitable breed. Shelters soon filled up with unwanted pets.

Most shelters must put dogs to sleep after a few days – they are simply inundated with dogs and have no choice. Enter the Dalmatian Club of America. This national organization helped rescue thousands of Dalmatians.

Rescue groups have been a natural outgrowth of dog clubs that specialize in maintaining purebred dogs. Too often, people see a dog that looks interesting or is a popular breed and they purchase a puppy without investigating the breed's characteristics.

The pup grows up and displays normal characteristics for his breed: Terriers love to dig and chase. Retrievers love to retrieve and need lots of exercise. St. Bernard's are huge dogs that tend to drool – a lot! And Dalmatians need a tremendous amount of exercise, attention and challenges to overcome.

People unprepared for the demands of certain breeds quickly become disenchanted and get rid of the dog. In response, those who have a love and understanding of specific dog breeds have developed rescue groups. The majority of these rescue groups are for a particular breed, though some rescue shelters are open to all dogs.

Purebred Dog Rescue

Breed rescue groups have a vested interest in saving their particular type of dog. Because they understand a breed's requirements, they can assess the dog's behavior, training needs and suitability for placement. They know what type of family a Dalmatian, for instance, would be most happy in. This insight dramatically reduces stress on families, the dogs and ultimately humane shelters, where many dogs unfortunately wind up.

Beware of so-called "rescue groups" that attempt to sell rescued dogs for a profit, particularly those that sell to pet stores. While it is perfectly natural to recoup some of the fees for maintaining the dog, the fees should not be constituted as the "price" for a particular dog. Moreover, a rescue group will spend time talking with you about your particular family and living situation to determine if you're right for the dog. The last thing a rescue group wants to see is a dog returned, once again, after placement.

A reputable rescue group will also not attempt to breed a rescued dog for two reasons: any undesirable traits can be passed to the offspring; and breeding dogs only adds to the problem of overpopulation.

If you are looking for a dog of a specific breed and don't care too much about lineage or American Kennel Club papers, consider contacting a breed rescue organizations. These dogs can make great pets, as long as they are with a family that understands them.

Contact your local veterinarian or shelter to find the names and information for breed rescue organizations in your area. You can also search the Internet or check out an informational Web site at www.projectbreed.org. In addition, the AKC Web site lists the official dog club contact information. Individual clubs are often affiliated with rescue organizations.




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