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Well, been thinking about this for a really long time now (even more now that I'm looking for my own dog and have been watching the Urgent board etc) and thought I'd get some opinions. I have read the other threads on this subject here and on the other forum, but as my situation/question is a tiny bit different, I thought I'd post and ask and hope it's not redundant! :rolleyes:

I've been playing with the idea of "starting a rescue" - though it would be a tiny one - one dog at a time. I've been a dog trainer for a long time and would love to pull a dog from a high kill shelter, train him while he lives with me (obedience, housemanners, housebreaking, etc), then place him well. I'd concentrate on GSDs, but would likely also deal with mixes and the occasional small breed as well.

Now, I know the question is, why don't I just foster for an already existing group. The biggest answer is that I'd like to be able to help pick which dog I was going to foster - and I cannot find a group that allows fosters to "help" with the pull decisions or even suggest dogs. (And please, know that I totally understand this - it's not the way rescues and fosters work - I really do get it. If I had my own rescue I wouldn't be letting the fosters pick their dogs either I'm sure! I'm just saying that being able to handpick the dog is one of the primary draws of having it be my own.) I would, for a lot of reasons (financial mostly!) far rather work with an existing group. I think it's the smarter way to go, especially since this would be a 1 or 2 person operation, neither person wealthy. But...

As to whether I'm qualified to do this - I think so. As mentioned, I've been a dog trainer for a whole lot of years. I've worked in a shelter for some years. I've worked with a local all-breed rescue (but not fostering). I was head trainer for a long time of an assistance dog program and am skilled in dealing with applications for dogs and placement of dogs (both the recipients of the assistance dog as well as the people applying for dogs that we had to drop out of the program). Maybe that doesn't make me at all qualified to run a one-dog-at-a-time rescue - I'm hoping you guys can say whether you think it is.

Right now, it'd just be me - though a trainer friend is interested in joining with me. Not a definite, though.

What do you think overall? Your brutal honesty is appreciated. I'd really love to make a difference to some of these Urgent dogs - even if I can only help one at a time. But I don't want to make a huge mistake, either.

Thanks!
 

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Now, I know the question is, why don't I just foster for an already existing group. The biggest answer is that I'd like to be able to help pick which dog I was going to foster - and I cannot find a group that allows fosters to "help" with the pull decisions or even suggest dogs. (And please, know that I totally understand this - it's not the way rescues and fosters work - I really do get it. If I had my own rescue I wouldn't be letting the fosters pick their dogs either I'm sure!
The rescue I volunteer lets us do this. No foster is ever told which dog to take and all fosters are encouraged to meet the dog first and perform their own evaluation and have the potential foster meet their resident dog (or most difficult dog if they have several) before committing to pull. The board of course has to approve and fosters can't just go pull a dog and say hey pay for this dog. I really like this flexibilty because not every dog personality works with me and Raven and I know what would fit in my home best, no one else. I took one foster without evaling him first myself and it was not a good outcome. He gave me bad vibes the second I met him but the two people that evaluated him gave a good eval.

What do you think overall? Your brutal honesty is appreciated. I'd really love to make a difference to some of these Urgent dogs - even if I can only help one at a time. But I don't want to make a huge mistake, either.
Have you considered your own personal liability when using this approach? That would be the biggest concern me trying to go out on my own. No matter how good a dog is or how much work we put into them, we can't control their new homes. What happens if the dog bites someone and the new owners turn around and blame you?

If I were to do it, I would consult a lawyer to make sure that I am personal protected against lawsuits. I know that is not the fun or glamorous thing to think about but it is very real.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Yeah, there sure is that. The liability thing is a big, big one. Could well be the deal-breaker. I remember all too well the huge liability policies we had to hold. Hm. Very good point.

Will PM you about your rescue and whether they only work locally. Sounds like a great way to do it.
 

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I know they are probably not the same as other rescues, but the Greyhound rescue I have volunteered for here seems to let the fosters choose the dogs they foster.

I also would be worried about the liability of doing it on my own.
 

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The liability thing is a big, big one.
Liability is scary big.

You also need to consider the long term consequences of being a one-person rescue. What happens when it doesn't work out for an adopter. Good reasons or frivolous ones, sometimes the placement doesn't stick and sometimes the some "time" is several years down the road and it is never at a convenient time. Fostering is also one piece of the puzzle. There's also all the work that goes into getting the word out, placing the dogs, following up, and the pesky record-keeping. Doing it on your own means taking on all the other aspects on your own.

Like PP's mentioned, our group gives our foster homes a say in the pulling and placement process. We can't pull a dog, no matter how great the evaluation, unless someone will welcome that specific dog into their home. However, a volunteer couldn't arbitrarily bring home a dog to foster and make it a "SASRA" dog. The foster also gets a say in the placement. If they aren't comfortable with a potential adopter (and no one even gets to see the dogs until they are approved), that feedback is an important piece of the placement decision.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do, we need all the help we can get out there! I know there are a few members here that have done some one-person rescue work. Hopefully they will see this and share their experience
 

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Where in NY are you? I know of several rescues who allow fosters to have a big part in what dogs come into their homes. Some will flat out let you contact a shelter and pull the dog yourself under their name. Others have general guidlines that the fosterer needs to follow but still lets them have the ultimate say.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Wow, thanks guys - really. Some great advice and help so far - I appreciate it! I'm thrilled to hear that there are rescues who do indeed let fosters have some say (or a lot of say!) in the dog being pulled. I'm in the process now of PM'ing some of you for the rescue names - and if anyone else has suggestions that they want to PM me, please, of course, feel free.

I'm down at the bottom of NY (southeastern) - about an hour north of Manhattan. Closer to parts of NJ than to some parts of NY!

Thanks so much guys - looks like if I can find a rescue that works as some of those you've mentioned, I'll go that way for sure. But, anyone else wanting to weigh in, please do!
 

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On liability and legal tasks, you might find this helpful:
SNPO: Starting A Nonprofit Organization

About the tasks needed for running a rescue (addressed to someone else, but maybe still of help):
How did your rescue get started? - GermanShepherdHome.net

Since you already 'apprenticed' in an existing rescue, and are a trainer, maybe it makes sense to start a new one and recruit people from your community as volunteers. The big challenge these days is fund raising. The big factor are vet costs.

The thing with horizontal decision making is that people vary very much in skill and good judgment. But it can work in a small grassroots group. If a board makes the decisions, and makes them wisely, it can save time, and be safer for the members with less experience.

Whichever way you decide to go, bon courage, and thank you for taking action!
 

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Maybe contact Jeannie O and I can't remember the name of her rescue...she is in NY. I have not worked with her in a very long time so cannot recommend her per se, but someone to check out:
Shepherds' Hope German Shepherd Rescue

You can check out the sticky thread in this section about how to find a reputable rescue.

I have always picked my own fosters. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks so much Sarah, for the links! :)

And Jean - so funny, I was in the middle of a PM to you when this came through. Got waylaid by my 5-year-old. :D

Thanks guys - really. You all have helped so much!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
After his 104.6 fever for too many days last week (bad flu), his running around all nutty now is quite welcome!

But yes..... "darn kid" is sometimes quite the understatement! ;)
 

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Jeannie in NY...the rescue Jean is referring to...is the same rescue I pm'd to you this morning :)
 

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Another option if you don't want to commit to 1 specific rescue or want to help in general is to evaluate and hold dogs from your area short term. Sometimes dogs come up urgently in shelters and if you can eval and temporarily hold for a rescue till transport (2 weeks?) that is a great help. Pulling young puppies quickly from a shelter is always needed.

Since you have a background in training and mentioned other breeds as possibilities, keep an eye out in the shelters. When I did GSD evals I always kept an eye out for the dog breeds that didn't do well in shelters or were less likely to be adopted (molosser/bully types). If you establish a relationship with the people behind the scenes or the Director it helps a lot. I would get calls or asked to help facilitate moving these breeds into their appropriate rescue organizations. Most were wonderful dogs, but placing 120 pounds of muscular black dog with cropped ears isn't easy and most shelters (rural and urban) have them at the top of their death list. Even taking pictures of these dogs (shelter pics stink) if you know the correct breed (many shelters label everything pit bull mixes or mastiff mixes) and sending them to alert those rescues saves lives.

If you aren't into the big babies; great small pure breeds also get put down due to time limits even if they are highly adoptable. It just comes down to space, time and exposure to get them out.

Whatever you decide to do, even 1 "small" part you undertake helps to save lives beyond what you can imagine.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks Kelly - definitely good suggestions; they are well-taken - thanks!

I've no problem, though, being a foster home for the "right" (for me) rescue. I think that's top of my list as far as how to best help, really, because my skill set lends itself really well to what I can provide a rescue & the dog (really decent ongoing behavior evals, training, and a good grasp of what matches would work best).
 
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