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Would you commit the next 15 years of your life to an individual you met online without meeting them in person? Would you solely base that life-altering decision on staged Instagram pictures and an overblown spell-checked biography?
Common sense would dictate you would not make one of the most intimate choices of your life based on a photo and a few words. Would you make the same 15-year commitment to a dog you saw online?
Dogs are living, breathing creatures with different personalities, needs, desires and instincts. A picture with a few words cannot possibly tell the whole story.
Adopting a dog is a serious commitment, and it takes time. You must submit an adoption application, have your references checked, veterinarian contacted, a home visit arranged, and then, meet the dog. Specific protocols are always in place and you cannot rush the process. A responsible rescue will work closely with you, no matter how long it takes, to ensure the dog is a perfect fit for your home and lifestyle.
Problems occur when common sense doesn't rule the decision. Issues often arise when placing a dog up for adoption too quickly, placing it in a home that is not suitable, or not allowing the dog sufficient time with a foster family or shelter volunteers so everyone involved can assess the dog. These crucial measures, if skipped or ignored, create unneeded problems.
Should animal rescue organizations be regulated? It is a consideration that has been bounced around within the rescue community for years. The question is a critical one and should be carefully examined. Ideas for legislation may include setting a mandatory time the rescue or shelter must hold onto dogs before they can be adopted, mandating the rescue take a dog back they adopted out, setting limits for adoption fees, and banning postcard picture adoptions.
There is both an animal and human cost when a rescue organization does not follow proven best practices for securing homes for dogs. The majority of dogs in rescue are not damaged; they have only been let down by humans. Allowing an inappropriate adoption will cause the animal to suffer, the rescue organization risks its reputation, and public safety is at risk. Rescue organizations must keep their focus on the well-being of the dog, which will result in a successful adoption.
Having the government step in and write regulations or legislative laws may become troublesome for the rescue's most valuable asset: volunteers. Volunteers provide an essential service to the survival of rescue organizations. Adding multiple layers of code on top of their life-saving work may exhaust volunteers.
Before we start legislating or regulating rescue organizations, let's practice some common sense. There are many terrific well-run, responsible rescue organizations in Canada, and they run efficiently without regulations. The organizations succeed because ethical, honorable people run them, and they do not run them as a popularity contest. Their goal is to find loving forever homes for dogs in desperate need.
Please be kind to animals.
Tracy Jessiman writes the weekly column Recycled Love and is proud to be a “voice for those with no choice.” She supports various animal rescues. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org