Basic rules of ethical rescue

Basic rules of ethical rescue

By: Patti Webb  Date: 02/23/2010 Category: | Rescue |

Do nothing illegal, dishonest or unethical.

It is important to remain in good standing with your community and maintain a good working relationship with your area shelters and your fellow welfare volunteers. A history of negativity, deceit, jumping to conclusions, or inability to work well with others can make it difficult when cooperation is needed in the future. Make sure any reports of neglect or abuse are valid and able to be substantiated before making allegations or repeating them to others. Try to deal in fact, not gossip, and do not advise others to break the law or encourage "vigilantism."

Spay and neuter all dogs in rescue.

The only exceptions should be at the request of a veterinarian and include proper documentation. In such a case, adopters should sign a strict spay/neuter contract and be carefully monitored.

Keep accurate records and history of dogs in rescue.

Each dog should have on file:

  • Relinquishment Agreement with prior history of dog regarding temperament, health issues, and a statement of true ownership and legal right to place the dog. There should also be a disclaimer to inform the surrendering owner of the possibility of euthanasia if deemed necessary.
  • Adoption Agreement with a statement of new ownership, conditions of relinquishment, and transference of responsibility and liability.
  • Spay/Neuter Contract to be used with great discretion and only under advice of a veterinarian.

Be registered as a nonprofit organization and OPERATE as one.

Just fulfilling the legal obligations is not enough. Funds solicited for rescue should be used for the designated purposes only and not for personally owned dogs or private activities. Efforts at economy should be made; some foster dogs can be very costly to treat, others may cost very little. Adoption fees should not exceed the treatment of the average dog in foster care. Donations are meant for the continuation of the rescue program, not a reflection of the dog's "worth," and should not fluctuate with each dog's appearance, age, behavior or ability to attract a higher amount.

Carefully screen adoptive homes.

Do as much screening as possible to assure the most appropriate situation for the adopters and the lifetime of the dog. Nobody should be pressured into taking a dog they do not want or made to feel responsible for the future of the dog if they are unwilling or unable to adopt it Always be willing to take a dog back if the adoption fails; a dog is not successfully adopted until it is in its lifetime home.

Know local animal control laws.

Stay informed about local ordinances and legal issues. Copies of local county, city and state animal laws can be great resources and problem solvers. Being able to recommend an appropriate resource for health, behavior, housing and neighborhood mediation can prevent a placement in rescue or the nearby shelter. Ignorance of the law, is not a valid defense.

Realize that not all dogs are adoptable.

Euthanasia is an eventuality for anyone involved in rescue long term. As a kindness to the veterinary technicians who must perform the task, please make an effort to control emotions and not overdramatize the event. A calm and painless death is not the worst thing that can happen in a dog's lifetime. Accepting it as an inevitable part of life and making it as peaceful as possible can be the ultimate act of kindness.

Educate the public.

Just as we educate the public on how to choose an ethical, responsible breeder, we need to warn them of those exploiting rescue for their own monetary gain and political agendas. Making accusations about others can create legal difficulties. Try to limit complaints and lecturing. More can be accomplished by just the positive promotion of these types of guidelines, and taking every opportunity to enlighten the public. Remember that irresponsible, even ignorant people can be educated. Be patient. Be tolerant. Try to be nice.

NAIA's Policy on Rescue
• Practical Guidelines for Rescue
Rescue Article Archives

About The Author

Patti Webb's photo
Patti Webb - NAIA National Rescue Coordinator

Member/Volunteer/Partner/Article Writer of the National Animal Interest Alliance.

All Authors Of This Article: | Patti Webb |




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