GUIDELINES, THOUGHTS & COMMENTARY ON EFFECTIVE CANINE RE-HOMING SERVICES
by T. Resleure

INTRODUCTION
PROTOCOLS, RULES & GUIDELINES
FOSTER HOME QUESTIONAIRRE
FOSTER HOME AGREEMENT
PREPARING DOGS FOR PLACEMENT
DOG PROFILES
HOME VISIT GUIDELINES & REPORT


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INTRODUCTION: California Italian Greyhound Rescue (CIGRescue, CIGR) provided 3 years of outstanding placement and educational services to IGs in need and their new owners.  CIGRescue will continue to function as an educational resource and offer free behavioral and training advice but are no longer taking in dogs except on an individual basis and depending on our personal finances.

CIGRescue was founded by Tia Resleure and several other active Italian Greyhound Club of America (IGCA) members. 

This core group of people brought their numerous combined years of experience with dog training, care, sensible dog management, and especially, their concern for the well being of IGs, to CIGRescue at a time when a lot of IGs in need were slipping through the cracks in California.

This failure was the result of internal rescue politics, poor communication and an unwillingness to find ways to improve the situation. 

Since a couple of us were placing the vast majority of the dogs for IGCA Rescue anyway, it was easy enough to start a new rescue organization and bring in the much needed applications.  While CIGRescue was unsuccessful in getting listed at the IGCA Rescue web pages, a good amount of applications and enquires were forwarded on to us.  We had a sort of "Unofficial Recognition".

With the formation of CIGRescue, the number of dogs coming in and being placed in CA skyrocketed.  This wasn't a coincidental explosion of unwanted dogs, it was just that the people needing to re-home their dogs were finally able to find the people who would actually take the dogs in.

Our ultimate goal was to some day merge back into the national IGCA Rescue.  National IGCA Rescue does an admirable job and has many many wonderful volunteers but we didn't want to re-join unless certain critical issues were addressed regarding consistency in the guidelines.  We spent countless hours brainstorming on ways for national rescue services to become more effective as the numbers of unwanted IGs grew.  The following are just some of the ideas we came up with:

Since IGCA Rescue has become so large we felt it would be prudent to work towards having the various regional groups get individual non-profit status and be managed only by rescue representatives with well rounded experience. 

Over all basic guidelines of organization, insurance issues and fundraising would be governed by the IGCA Rescue.  They would be in charge of keeping track of and publishing placement statistics including statistics of all dogs coming into rescue.

Finding a way to proactively deal with unplaceable dogs without draining valuable foster home resources is critical to the future well being and effectiveness of rescue.

Regional groups would be in charge of managing foster homes and their training and setting fee schedules based on costs in their respective areas. 

The IG Rescue Foundation would financially supplement the regional rescue groups only when necessary. 

So what happened?  Well, a couple of things.  IGCA Rescue started accepting dogs in CA again and taking on new reps.  All of a sudden we were getting calls from people who wanted dogs we had listed who said that they were "already pre-approved and home checked".  That a separate rescue organization operating under more stringent guidelines in CA existed was apparently never explained to these applicants.

This widening of the gap in communication was a huge factor in our decision to stop taking in dogs.  We were having to spend far too much time explaining to confused and frustrated people that if they wanted a dog from us they would have to be screened through our process: get on our waiting list and learn how to care for the dog's teeth and nails.  We also felt it would impact our ability to get in as many applications.

We also suffered from a lack of dog-experienced volunteer resources.

We publish our guidelines, protocols and rules here (and some additional commentary) with the hope that other rescue groups will find them of some benefit.  We found that these guidelines contributed to smooth rescue operations and especially to the stability and well being of the dogs we placed.

PROTOCOLS, RULES & GUIDELINES:

Several things set us apart from other rescue groups. 

A strong emphasis on education and follow-up counseling, (which is only possible when dogs are placed close enough to easily meet up with an experienced volunteer mentor) how we prepared dogs for placement and our commitment to encouraging responsible breeding/selling practices. 

We clearly addressed the serious problems of animal rights propaganda/language/emotional manipulation and it's impact on responsible pet ownership and sensible dog management.

CIGRescue was dedicated to proactively dealing with the one of the major issues that all successful rescue services must face: That of finding and training volunteers that are willing to learn, who have the time needed to prepared dogs for successful placements and who can respect the rules that are critical to the continued health and success of the rescue organization.

Click here for the CIGRescue Protocols, Rules & Guidelines as a PDF file.

FOSTER HOME QUESTIONAIRE:

Designed to help evaluate a potential foster home's experience and willingness to learn how to best prepare an IG for placement. 

How long a person acts as a foster home before attaining rep status was not dependant on a time schedule but rather on their ability and confidence with crate training, training a dog to accept teeth and nails grooming and dealing with minor behavioral issues.  Likewise they would have a good understanding of all protocols rules and guidelines.

The greatest challenge to rescue has been finding foster volunteers that are as willing to learn as the homes we end up placing dogs with.  We see fostering as a potentially valuable resource for learning from experienced mentors.

A high percentage people attracted to rescue have huge hearts but don't necessarily have the knowledge and respect of canines as a unique species. I consider this the differnece between a Dog Lover and someone with Dog Experience.  Dog Lovers may have owned dogs for decades but not know how to pronounce their favorite breed's name or think that it's normal for dogs to have rotten smelly mouths. Many have a strong compulsion to save something, but not to learn what is in the dog's best interest.  These people can be very helpful in many ways to rescue but are not the best situation for long term foster care or preparation of most dogs for placement.

Rather than compromise our standards out of desperation we chose to focus on quality placements rather than quantity placements.  If we felt we couldn't meet the dogs preparation needs we could not take the dog in.

To many that will sound unbearably heartless but please understand that when doing rescue one must be realistic in the face of heartbreak and make some very difficult decisions.  Most rescue groups can barely make ends meet with the easy to place dogs.  With limited resources one must have perspective on the overall situation. What is best for the greater number of dogs. 

Frequently a choice must be made about applying resources towards an elderly dog with serious health problems.  Sure, desperate calls can go out to private individuals to make huge donations for extensive and radical treatments on elderly dogs but is this this really fair to the rest of the dogs that are being rushed into new homes with inadequate preparation? How about the next puppy that comes in with a broken leg? Is it really even fair to the dog that gets this heroic treatment? How much quality has been added to this dogs life?

It would be great if some day rescue could be self sufficient enough to take care of the needs of the easy to place dogs AND provide excellent long term retirement services for difficult to place dogs.  Unfortunately we are no where close to that and must be realistic about being financially responsible. 

This is an aspect of rescue that is rarely discussed and all too often dogs end up being warehoused or kept on hold indefinitely, alive but without the best of attention, sometimes until the dogs go crazy.  (I learned this from a no-kill shelter worker).  It can also turn a rescuer into a hoarder.

Click here for the CIGRescue Foster Home Questionnaire as a PDF file.

FOSTER HOME AGREEMENT:

Click here for the CIGRescue Foster Home Agreement as a PDF file.

PREPARING DOGS FOR PLACEMENT:

These are the basic preparation guidelines for foster homes.  We keep dogs a minimum of 1-2 weeks to prepare the dog for it's new home.  While this is almost unheard of with other rescue groups, we find that this prior conditioning makes for a more successful placement and is smoother transition for the dog into it's new home.

Click here for the CIGRescue Preparation for Placement Guidelines as a PDF file.

DOG PROFILES:

Our Dog Profiles were one of our more valuable assets.  They were designed to keep track of the individual dog's training and care progress. They helped foster volunteers maintain focus on the dog's needs and and gave the new owners important details on how to manage and care for the specific dog.  They were also very useful for sending to people who were interested in a particular dog and letting them know about the dog's specific needs.

Click here for the CIGRescue Dog Profile as a PDF file.

HOME VISIT GUIDELINES & REPORT:

Click here for the CIGRescue Home Visit Guidelines & Report as a PDF file.