Archive for January, 2011


This post is sharing a unique challenge and advocacy solution for Blog The Change for Animals.

If you adopted your animal companion through Petfinder, there’s a good chance that you didn’t know much about the rescue that listed your pet, nor the foster family that housed him or her until your adoption. According to Petfinder’s data, their daily site shows over 345,000 homeless pets in more than 13,000 animal placement organizations across the U.S. and Canada.

As a co-founder of a Border Collie rescue in the early-2000s, I was immersed in the rescue community. What an eye-opener! We found big hearts out there. And fantastic, reputable, do-it-right rescues, who I hope we emulated when we incorporated as a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization.

Who monitors rescue organizations?

But the rescue community also has problems. Hoarding situations. Over-extended and burned out volunteers. No medical attention for the animals. Who checks up on the organizations, really? In the 5 years that our rescue existed, no Dept. of Agriculture representatives contacted us. Anyone can start “saving” pets and rehome them through Craig’s List or pet-listing organizations (unlike Petfinder, which does require rescue/shelter organization qualifications and validation).

When one surrenders an animal to a rescue, the thought process is that the pet is going to a great home. Although Fido often does, many rescues don’t do references or home checks prior to adoption–how does the rescue know the character of the new adopter? How do they know if the surrendered animal is going to the right home? What’s the adopters’ environment? What are the adopters’ training methods? Who actually advocates for the dog, who has been through rough situations? If Fido doesn’t find the right home, he keeps coming back to the rescue. Or worse–he gets euthanized for being “unadoptable.”

Are all foster families ready, willing, and able?

As for foster families, rescues are desperate. So many dogs are surrendered, or they’re in kill shelters with little to no time left. Because it’s so difficult to turn down pets in need, rescues become overwhelmed. They sometimes allow anyone with a roof over their head to foster–with no training whatsoever. One rescue organization’s site says “Please take in as many dogs as you can; we need your help.” Are these all good homes? How do you know how the foster family will treat the dog? Although started with good intentions, standards start slipping. After all, the rescue saved the dogs; they have to go somewhere before adoption. But is it optimum care?

What can we do to help rescue organizations solve their issues?

So what can rescue and foster family advocates do? If you’re participating in Blog the Change, you’ve read about Kyla Duffy and her Don’t Kill Bill: A Dog Lover’s Night Out aerial performance and tales of puppy mill rescue event that’s coming to Boulder, Colorado February 12. (Be sure to see the Boulder Dog and This One Wild Life posts for the event’s amazing backstory, and the Up for Pups post about Aly and her talented rescue dog Clem, who will appear in the show.) Ticket sale proceeds from this event are going to a very special effort to address these rescue/foster problems.

Kyla’s 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Up for Pups, came up with an idea worthy of Blog the Change: a “Road to Rescue” Best Practices Manual. Within the next 6 months, the Up for Pups board of directors are developing an “indispensable manual that will serve as a guide for established and developing private rescue organizations, helping them to work most effectively.” The goal?  The manual “will help rescues save the most lives, spend the least money, and ensure a good experience for all volunteers involved,” Kyla says. “Standards manuals are available for shelters, but rescues are run differently; they don’t follow similar practices.”

What’s the big picture?

Kyla adds that Up For Pups is partnering with 15-20 “reputable, experienced rescues–large and small, purebred and mixed-breed, to create this manual, which will serve as a toolkit to help rescues self-evaluate and grow.” While the initial effort will focus on decentralized rescues that use foster homes to house dogs, “we hope to expand the manual to include rescues with centralized facilities and rescues that take in other types of animals. Since each has different needs, we’ve decided to first focus on decentralized rescues because they are prolific and without anything of this sort.”

Up For Pups has evaluation and data collection plans to compile commonalities and what has and hasn’t worked for the rescues. “Down the road, we hope to be able to financially reward organizations who can prove their holding themselves to the highest standards each year, and we believe this manual will help them out.”

Who doesn’t want that?

Rescues interested in participating in the creation of the best practices manual can contact Up for Pups here.

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I’m participating in today’s Pet Blogger Challenge! It’s a series of questions that my pet blogging friends Edie of Will My Dog Hate Me, and Amy of GoPetFriendly.com asked–you, too, can participate!

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1. When did you begin your blog?

My first post was on August 30, 2010.

2. What was your original purpose for starting a blog?

I actually wanted to start it to help people understand their dogs, along with presenting stories about experiences I’ve had with my own dogs. The intent was to get people interested in using my dog coaching services. However, I started by blogging for the Never Shock a Puppy 8-week campaign to inspire people to use gentle methods when working with their dogs.

3. Is your current purpose the same?

Yes, overall. As I finished with Never Shock a Puppy, another challenge came up. I decided to blog about specific topics for the Reverb10 project–the creators provided daily topics throughout December to help us reflect on the past year and sets intentions for the year ahead. I turned the topics into dog-related blog posts.

4. Do you blog on a schedule or as the spirit moves you?

I know it’s best to blog on a schedule to maintain reader and search engine interest. However, I mostly blog when I think of topics that may perhaps interest readers. Although disciplined in my work and volunteer schedule, I’m not disciplined in my blogging schedule. Argh. I would like to get better at that! I need to feel guilty more often to motivate me to write!

5. Are you generating income from your blog?

No, not really. I write a blog as an adjunct to my business. I haven’t had anyone say they’ve called me because of my words of wisdom on the blog!

6. What do you like most about blogging in general and your blog in particular

  • Freedom! I can write whatever I want! I am responsible and present facts to back up technical material, but generally, it’s great to be able to discuss what I think others would like. I’ve been a journalist throughout my career, which required fact-based, boundary-laden writing. Here, I can spout opinions!
  • Interaction! People actually comment on my posts with fresh points of view. I’m always surprised! And thrilled to pieces whenever anyone even makes a one-word comment.
  • Making blogging friends! I’ve come to know other pet bloggers who I now interact with frequently. It wasn’t until I went to Blog Paws 2010 and met such motivating people that I realized how big the pet blogging world was! It was definitely a thrill. It’s a support group on which I rely heavily lately.
  • Learning! I’m a neophyte blogger, often embarrassed at the thought of presenting my views and my blogging attempts. Who would care? I have never done anything like this. I’ve loosened up in my style–based on reading others’ posts–and actually started to enjoy it!
  • Being challenged! I don’t know when I would have started writing posts if it weren’t for the Never Shock a Puppy campaign. I was just in the throes of developing my web site when that challenge appeared. My web designer wasn’t thrilled that I started the blog before the site was up! But hey, I believed in the cause and I was compelled to write about it. That was so difficult for me, as the others in the blogging coalition were such better writers and more sophisticated in blogging than I. But then I started to enjoy it. When Reverb10 came along, I was challenged with the topics, but I realized that I could actually have fun!

7. What do you like least?

  • The technical aspects. I’m never sure how to use WordPress correctly, and I still don’t know all of the features. I love some styles that other bloggers use, but can’t figure out how to get from there to here! And you know what? I hate having to look anything up. I prefer to ask someone how. Not good. I mean, I always used to look things up, but now I am blocked in that way. As an example, I tried to use the Linky Tool code that Edie supplied, but nothing showed up, even after signing up and watching the Linky demos! Blech.
  • Pressure. I am involved in so many eclectic venues–between volunteering, teaching, and taking editing jobs on the side, dealing with my dogs’ medical issues and all, I’m pooped! Blogging is often the first thing on my mind, but the last thing I do. I meant to write between my last post on December 31 and now–but I didn’t.

8. How do you see your blog changing or growing in 2011?

I was afraid you’d ask that! It’s like the interviewer who asks “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” I honestly don’t know how it will change. I committed–in my mind–that I’d write at least once a week. I have topics on which I’d love discourse. I want to focus in things that matter in the dog world. That said, I’m gonna try!

Now it’s your turn. What do you want to get out of your blog in 2011?

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