Animal Rescue from a Volunteer's Perspective



 As a volunteer for a German Shepherd Dog rescue located in Central Colorado I may have a different perspective as a volunteer than others would possess. I am not an expert in animal rescue, nor do I have experience beyond simply being a volunteer. The rescue I volunteer for is unique but still equal in many ways when compared to other rescues. The main concern is to save unwanted dogs that generally through no fault of their own end up on death row at a shelter. While my interest is in German Shepherd dogs, I love all breeds and mixed breed dogs. My specific volunteer duties are to process and qualify prospective adopters. Having now processed well over a thousand applicants in the years I have served as a volunteer, I have made some critical observations. I will not include in this article the buzz words or comments that would disqualify an applicant because I don’t want to educate unqualified applicants as to what they need to say to get a dog. Being acquainted with other rescues I can say with confidence that the one I serve may be one of the most difficult to adopt from. Adoption should be difficult in my opinion and also as good a match as possible. It is better to have four quarters than 100 pennies. Adoption is more than just moving dogs; it is about the dog's welfare and future.  

We receive applications from every aspect of society and many want to adopt a rescue dog for wrong reasons. It is that time of year when people start to frequent pet stores to adopt a puppy for the holidays. Statistics reveal that many of those pets will end up in a shelter after the first of the year. That puts a heavy burden on rescues who are already filled to capacity. To those who plan to adopt THINK about what you are doing first. This is a potential family member that will be with you for 10 plus years. The dog will require regular supervision, daily feedings, constantly refilling water bowls,  medical care, dental care, much exercise and lots of attention. It will have accidents in your home that need to be cleaned up. If you are not ready for this responsibility then maybe you are not ready to adopt. 
JoieThe applicants I have processed run the gamut from having selfish motives to being outstanding. Prime examples are Cindy and Rick when it comes to ideal adopters. The two rescue dogs they have are adopted  as their family members. The dogs have their own trainer, acupuncturist, and a very comfortable home. They set the standard when it comes to top adopters. Then there is the chiropractor who adopted a companion to accompany him to work, or the young veterinary student who wanted a constant companion. The one thing they share in common with other top adopters is their endless love for the breed. They are all top adopters but most others fall into the category of just wanting an intelligent companion that will love them unconditionally and they can love in return. As a rescue volunteer it is a very special delight when we find the top adopter. 

The photo above is Jry who is a prime example of rescue animals. Jry was too weak to stand up due to starvation when he was rescued. He was less than half his normal weight and not expected to survive. He was slowly and carefully nursed back to health and has now improved to near perfection. He was adopted to Cindy and Rick who provided the photos. Looking at him now you would never know he was rescued in such pitiful condition. He has a loving sister Joie,  (smiling widely in the bottom photo) whom he likes to play with, along with his doting parents. Most rescues have had a previously rough life, so finding them the ideal home is paramount. Jry and Joie sure hit the jackpot with Cindy and Rick. When you find a good match as in Jry’s case, it makes all the hours and effort expended worthwhile. Both Jry and Joie have a secure and happy home to live out their days — the absolute height of satisfaction in volunteering for a dog rescue organization.  

For more on Bruce and Carol McElmurray go to:


t brandt
11/22/2012 11:14:11 AM

Thanks for bringing this subject up. It points out an alternative for people who want a pet dog or cat. Adoption may be a good way for busier or inexperienced potential pet owners to avoid the difficulties of house training, for instance, or just a way of finding a pet and doing a good deed at the same time....Many adoption centers also need foster homes: temporary housing & care for one or more animals...Then there's horse rescue . The unfortunate coincidence of a bad economy and the federal closing of slaughter houses to horses has put many animals in jeopardy...And, believe it or not, potbelly pigs are often in need of adoption. People buy the piglets thinking they're just cute and don't realize how big they really get or are blind-sided by stupid zoning laws and are forced to get rid of the animal and at a loss with what to do. (They make great pets and can be house trained easily. Just check your zoning laws first.). .

Scott Heron
11/21/2012 5:04:56 PM

I'm glad that the above commentor's experience running a rescue hasn't made her bitter about the whole thing. It seems to me that the blogger is genuinely concerned for these animals. As it is the fault of people that these dogs have ended up in shelters, it is people who we must be very cautious with. I've personally seen too many folks adopt dogs (almost blindly and generally from pet stores) only to mistreat them or give them up shortly after. It is unfortunate that so many have proven to put selfishness over responsibility. While parts of the article could be misinterpreted as sounding elitist, the examples stated are best-case scenarios which by no means excludes any responsible individual(s) with honest and genuine intent.

Bruce McElmurray
11/21/2012 3:07:37 PM

Anne: The rescue I volunteer for is not elitist but very careful. Experience has taught us that it is wiser to be careful than carefree with adoptions. It is a painful learning process when you have to take a dog back or have them come back because the person abused them. There are adopters from the upper part of society to everywhere below that. We adopt out family members not guard dogs for cattle. Sorry you missed the point of the blog. We have seen the very worst in adopters who want the dogs for bait dogs or assorted other perverted uses. We screen our adopters carefully. I highlighted the best but there are many average adopters. Adopting out dogs to anyone who casually appears to be suited only to find out they are not and subsequently finding the dog in a very bad environment is heartbreaking. Many years of experience has taught us that being careful up front is better than the heartbreak of having a dog in a worse environment than it started out in. Very few have slipped past us and therefore we stand by our standards and we are not elitist.

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