Animal Rescue from a Volunteer’s Perspective

Reader Contribution by Bruce Mcelmurray
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 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. 

The 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.  

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