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Beware of Rescue Mills More Than Dogs

I just received a letter from an unfortunate 70-year-old man who was sold by a “rescue” an alleged Belgian Malinois with known aggression issues. We had talked last week about working together on those aggression issues. He informed me of what he described as, and what I’m sure was ‘the painful decision’ to return the dog after some very dangerous outbursts. Based on what we had discussed in the past and what has happened since I completely concur with his decision but I feel very badly for him as rescues and greeders know all too well and take far too great an advantage of, his heart was far more heavily invested than his pocketbook.

I run into this with increasing frequency with rescues these days. Too often now they are either placing a great dog with a great person absolutely knowing it’s a horrendously bad match or worse still; I’ve had at least 6 cases this year where local rescues have placed dogs they know to have bitten, sometimes inside their own foster/assessment homes.

I found at least one of them was highly dangerous (death to handler dangerous), the others had some potential, but next to none in the homes they were placed. None of the people had any prior dog experience let alone experience turning around aggressive dogs. Four were pit bulls and 2 were Cane Corso dogs.

The people were told the dogs they were sent home with were Lab or some such crosses. The point isn’t so much the breed (which is a legitimate point nonetheless) as it is that you don’t give someone a Ferrari and tell them it’s a mini-van without some serious driving and mechanics lessons.

It is getting more and more common for the rescue world to prioritize having great “out the door, let’s cross our fingers” statistics rather than “great match” statistics.

I have had some significant first-hand experience with these particular rescues. They are known for some other pretty unethical shenanigans but this putting people and dogs at risk in this manner is a head-scratcher. You can’t tell me they aren’t doing this intentionally. Are they? Someone is going to get hurt badly enough that they’re going to get sued out of existence if they’re lucky and if we’re lucky they’ll get put away for criminal negligence as is already happening in the U.S.

The irony is that the rescues I’ve encountered doing this are the most vociferous when it comes to criticising well-run rescues or for that matter, anyone that they don’t agree. With some, the mantra is, “you may love dogs, but we love them more so shut up and listen to us about every aspect of dogs.” However, with more than a few, it appears the misanthropic mantra is, “It’s not that we love dogs all that much, but working in a rescue gives us an outlet to vent our hatred of people.”

This trend, and it’s happening often enough that I feel that trend is the appropriate word naturally causes to any but the slowest of dullards unnecessary and very significant heartache to the people that learn all too quickly they’ve given their hearts to something that simply isn’t going to work out. If they’re lucky, all that’s broken is their heart. It’s not such a great experience either for the dogs that get sent back.

I don’t entirely know what the answer is but at the very least they need to do a better job at writing their mission statements, selecting their staff and volunteers and improving their training (when training even exists).

They need to do better, and until they do just as I now refer to the majority of dog breeders as “greeders”, I’m going to start referring to these rescues as “rescue mills”.

Here’s a link sent to me about responsible rescues –

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