Boxer Rescue How To

by Cheri Bush, Dallas (TX) Boxer Rescue

One of the first things that a boxer rescue group may do is contact the local animal shelter to let the Animal Control Officers(ACO) know that they are available and wiling to rescue boxers that would normally be deemed unadoptable and thus, euthanized. This is probably the most difficult thing a boxer rescue organization does. It involves a great leap of faith on the part of both the ACOs as well as the boxer rescue organization.

The first reaction to shelters is generally a negative one. All in all, ACOs are viewed by many as the “bad guys”. It’s their fault that the dogs are impounded and it’s their fault that so many dogs and cats are euthanized. It is very easy to walk into a shelter with a chip on your shoulder.

However, that is the last thing you should do. Additionally, the shelter may distrust your organization until you have proven yourself.

In order to establish your credentials, it is best to have an organization or club and introduce yourselves in that manner. While boxer rescue (or any type of rescue for that matter) can be and is very emotional, it is imperative that boxer rescue personnel present themselves in a professional and reasonable manner. Talk with the front desk personnel and/or ACO supervisor. Bring credentials and an overview of your program. Do not mention animal rights information nor spout the same. This is an excellent way to turn off any ACO because chances are they have had run-ins with extreme animal rights activists and that has left a sour taste in their mouth. Remember, they are just city workers and are paid to do their job. Many ACOs are very professional and take pride in their work—they are protecting the public from a danger as well as doing something for the animals.

Explain your goals and objectives and the types of dogs you will and will not take. For example, are you willing to take older boxers (5+ years) or the dogs that have broken limbs? Set your parameters and know your limits. Ask about their policies, such as how long is a dog kept before it becomes the property of the city or what is their policy on purebreed rescue. Caution: In the early 1990s, breed rescue became a politically correct cause when many breed clubs jumped on the bandwagon and “said” they did rescue but never followed through. You may very well encounter ACOs that are not willing to work with you because of past experiences. Do not let that sway you. Explain to them that you will not increase their workload; you will, if necessary, walk the shelter on a weekly basis (this is where an organization can be a big help). If they do not have any policy in place, offer to show proof of spay/neuter with a veterinarian’s signature.

Be honest with them. Let them know that while you may not be able to take every boxer that comes into their facility, you are willing and able to look at any dog and evaluate it. For the most part, all ACOs want these animals out of their facility. They do not get bonuses for euthanizing x dogs a year nor do they particularly enjoy it. They can be your best friend or worst enemy! Treat them wit dignity and respect and be patient.

I offer a case example that may help other boxer rescue groups across the country develop a better relationship with their local pounds. The City of Dallas is where Dallas Boxer Rescue gets 75% of our dogs. We began our program in later 1991. With the help of a boxer rescue member and a dachshund rescue member, inroads were begun to develop a solid, working relationship with the two City of Dallas Animal Shelters. these two women literally walked each shelter twice a week for four years and would call those purebreed rescue groups that were rescuing dogs about dogs in these facilities. Naturally, this wore them down and another system was tentatively developed. One worker at one shelter would call the dachshund rescue contact who, in turn, would call those rescue groups to rescue their particular breeds. The City of Dallas does not charge any legitimate breed rescue group a fee for taking dogs out of the shelters. A list of approved rescuers is at both facilities and, if the ACO at the front desk is unfamiliar with the person, they will check the name against the list, which is submitted by the breed rescue club. Then there are three forms that are used. The first is a form which basically states that you are the person you say to be, you will spay/neuter the animal and gives an overview of the ordinance. This form is notarized. The second form is a general description form that has the shelter’s identifying number on it and a physical description of the dog as well as a place to list the vet as well as the name/address of the rescuer. The third form goes with the rescuer. It is returned to the shelter after the dog has had its rabies shot and is spayed/neutered. There is a place on on the form to note euthanization, if necessary, or if the dog should get lost or die unexpectedly. I recently talked with a Dallas ACO and told her about writing this article. She had several basic, common sense suggestions:

*Get to know the ACOs at the pound. What we do, occasionally, is to take cookies to the folks at the shelters. It’s a great way to say thanks and they love it.

*Make an appointment with the ACO, Shelter Manager or Executive Director and sit down with them to explain your program, including standard operating procedures and requirements for homes.

*Don’t go to the shelter with the attitude that you’re “rescuing” the dog and you and you alone are the good guy in this mix. Most ACOs are very professional and care deeply for their job; don’t belittle their profession by acting superior. And do not spout animal right’s information. Chances are that they’ve heard everything and your goal is to help boxers, not alienate ACOs.

*Don’t be afraid to tell AC that you’re full or you can’t take a particular dog because it’s too sick or to old for your group to deal with. Communicate with AC and explain your circumstances. They will understand completely.

*Bring your own leash. Sounds basic but she pointed out that there are many rescue groups that come to the pound without a leash. There are two types that are best used. The first is a simple chain collar and a leash. The second is a leash/collar combination manufactured by Hatfield Industries for Wal-Mart that is $4.95. It’s a 6’ leash with a slip on the end that you can lock shut. Kennel leads are nice but I find them too short and it is easy for a frightened or rambunctious dog to slip out of them. Many rescuers prefer a chain choke on a dog that is unknown in case the dog becomes aggressive.

*Bring a crate big enough to fit the dog you’re picking up. Seems like a common sense thing to do, but it’s surprising how many people either misjudge the size of a dog (boxers can range from 35 pounds to 75+). I’ve shoved an 85 pound into a size 400 crate and believe me, it wasn’t pretty. Also, it is important (and I can’t emphasize this enough) do not let the dog ride loose. It may work the first time, but you really don’t know how the dog is going to react and the last thing you need is a dog bouncing off the car ceiling while you are trying to drive.

*Be prepared to wait. Be patient. The ACO will most likely take you in order of arrival. Don’t expect special treatment because you’re breed rescue.

*Ask the Animal Control personnel not to ever give your phone number out to a former owner. If you can, get a neutral voice mail number so you can screen your calls.

*And last, and this is a practice everybody who does rescue must follow: do not be lulled into a false sense of security with the rescue dog after the initial vet visit. There is an incubation period for parvovirus and distemper of about 10-14 days. Do not (cardinal rule number 1) let a rescue dog mix with your personal dogs. Plus, it can also upset the pack order of your own dogs and put them at risk for dog fights. Your own personal dogs should have priority over any rescue dog; if you lose sight of this, then you are doing a grave disservice to your own dogs.

AC can be an ally in your quest to do boxer rescue. As I tell rescue dogs that leave my house to go live with their new family: “Don’t mess this up!” I’d say the same to any rescue group. AC wants to save these dogs. However, they just get worn down because of the number of animals they have to deal with on an everyday basis as well as the public, which can be an is very difficult at times, to deal with.

If you would like further information regarding the City of Dallas Animal Control program cooperating with breed rescue groups, please feel free to e-mail me and I will make sure you get in contact with the appropriate person at Dallas. Actually, you should have your local AC personnel call Dallas AC. AC officers will speak to another, as a professional, but may be somewhat cool to a rescue person. Remember, most AC officers might be either skeptical of rescue because some ACOs are under the impression that rescue takes the dogs out and breeds them to make money or rescue groups just rescue the “cute, pretty” ones and leave the rest behind.

If you choose to rescue, please understand that you’re probably not going to get the type of dog that you see in the books. Chances are you will see some pretty poor quality boxers. Temperament is everything! Work with the ACO and listen to what they say. Some ACOs are not well-versed in dog behavior and some are. Learn to disseminate information from them and, at least, listen to what they have to say. And always, remember why you’re doing this: for the dogs, not for the people and not for the glory for yourself. Act like a professional, be respectful and courteous and you will receive the same treatment.

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