Adopting a dog from a rescue is a great way to add a new family member to your home. The vast majority of rescues and shelters have the best interests of the animals at the forefront of their mission. Unfortunately, there are inexperienced, unethical, predatory, and lazy rescue practices. It’s up to adopters to ensure they are adopting from a reputable rescue, otherwise, you could be lining the pockets of an unethical organization that causes more harm than good. Make sure to keep an eye out for red flags when adopting a rescue dog or you could be putting yourself at risk for adopting a dog with medical or behavioral challenges that you may not be prepared for your even able to manage.
Non-profit companies can and do pay their employees, including the founder. Founders and employees are paid from the non-profits’ gross revenues. After all the expenses have been deducted, including salaries, the net revenues must be spent on the non-profit. Founders and employees whose sole jobs are running rescues deserve an income for all their hard work. Unfortunately, there is no set rule on how much a founder of a non-profit can be paid. And, there have been unscrupulous mismanagements of non-profit funds in the past.
The sad truth of life is that there are bad people everywhere, in all types of workforces, including rescues. Not everyone is in it for the right reasons. Sometimes a new rescue means well but they are too inexperienced or sadly, sometimes too lazy, to take the time needed to place pups appropriately. When you are trying to find a dog for adoption in Massachusetts or any other state, be on the lookout for these red flags.
This isn’t a rescue that brings dogs to an adoption event for a meet and greet but only allows them to go home with previously approved adopters. This red flag when adopting a dog refers to those who let you walk out with the dog that day at the event without checking references or having spoken with you before the event. These are rescues that bring many dogs to an adoption event at a store parking lot or other public places.
Generally, you will see on their social media that they have taken in 10, 20, or upwards of 50 plus dogs at one time. This is the mass transportation side of it. They take in all of these animals in large quantities and either they then “flip” them quickly for profits or could possibly be inexperienced and just in over their heads. Either way, this practice means less screening time for behavioral health and medical concerns. Dogs should be fully vetted and screened long enough to truly see the dog’s personality and reactivity. How often are these mass adoption events taking place? Weekly? Monthly? That is can be a red flag.
This ties in with mass adoptions, bringing in large quantities of dogs to rescue, or committing to a dog without having fosters already lined up or in place. Reputable rescues and shelters will make calls to check your personal references, and vet references, call your landlord, and do a home visit, or a virtual home visit if out of state. They also require the adoptable dog to meet the resident pet and other human family members first, or they have a policy for a trial period if the pup is coming up from out of state. They will be screening you to see if you will be a responsible pet parent. It is difficult to fully screen multiple adopters at mass adoption events.
Be careful of any rescue who quickly jumps right into telling you they can ship the dog to you this week or you can pick them up today. While both of my rescues came from TN and I did meet one in Connecticut at the transport, any rescue who rushes you to get them as soon as possible is one you need to stop and think about if other red flags slipped past your notice in your excitement for the perfect pup.
Yes, it is extremely hard to find a rescue that will hold a dog for you but when it comes to adoption you don’t want to rush it. Make sure you have had an in-depth conversation about both your and the dog’s needs. Transportation or pick-up shouldn’t be discussed early on. It should be mentioned after a lengthy discussion and an agreement that this dog is the right fit for you.
More red flags when adopting a dog is rushing the process by using emotional manipulation. The rescue staff uses the adoption conversation to make you feel like the dog’s life is in your hands. They will often give excuses to rush the process saying that your application was too amazing to pass, and you can have the dog right away, or tell you the pup is currently in a high kill shelter and needs adoption now. Often, they will use the animal’s poor history of neglect or abuse in their social media and adoptable dog descriptions more than they will focus on the dog’s actual needs or good qualities. Reputable rescues do speak about the harsh truths of rescue and what a dog has been through, but it is never their main focus.
Reputable rescues take the time to get to know every dog’s particular needs before listing them as available for adoption. They will take care of all medical needs prior to listing or will be upfront and honest about the pup’s medical needs, including if they will need future surgeries for a specific condition, lifelong medications, etc. All animals will be spayed and neutered prior to adoption. You should not have to spay and neuter yourself and then show proof later. This is one of the red flags when adopting a dog. Any devious person or puppy mill could rescue a dog at a fraction of the cost of buying a purebred puppy. They could then breed the dog without ever getting back in touch with the rescue. Reputable rescues and shelters will not risk this occurring by sending an intact dog home with you, especially a popular breed.
A common red flags when adopting a dog that can lead to unexpected behaviors later on and sometimes costly training expenses is vague information. Be sure to have a list of questions to ask the rescue during the screening process. A reputable rescue will be advising you on any behavior concerns the dog may have, such as resource guarding, potty training, or a high prey drive. They will also let you know if they have been tested with kids or cats, if they are dog friendly, or if they should be the only pet in the home, etc. They will want you to know everything they do, including behavior concerns and medical information. This helps them make the best possible.
This one isn’t just a red flag when adopting a dog, these are straight-up scams. Scammers, who aren’t even real shelters or rescues, marketing dogs for adoption. This is generally a two-part scheme. The is not accepting credit cards. They only accept payments without consumer protections like telling you to use “Friends and Family” in Venmo. The second is the adding on of additional fees. They have a dog listed for an unusually small adoption fee and then add additional fees after you have already paid, such as vaccines, transportation, etc. You never get the dog. To learn more about these scams watch this video with the BBB.
You will find a plethora of amazing rescues, both experienced and new. Not all red flags come from unethical or predatory behaviors. Maybe the adoption coordinator is new and just as excited as you are to make a match. But any red flag is cause for pause!
Congratulations on being ready to bring an amazing fur baby into your life and good luck with your search! If you think you have found a red flag rescue comment down below to help warn other adopters.
For more adoption content and resources, click on the links below. Once you’ve adopted your new family member, let’s chat about a session!