Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Small dogs, rescue, Iggy and Ellen

I had to write about this - having been there, done that. There probably aren't going to be any winners in this situation. We're hoping that Iggy, the Brussels Griffon mix at the center of the controversy, will find a good home, well away from the spotlight.
Rescue organizations have rules for reasons. Most that focus on small dogs have very specific rules about households with children. Dogs that wind up in rescue often have issues. If the dog has been hungry it will often protect its food bowl. And if small hands reach for the dog while it's eating, it's the dog who will be blamed when the hand is bitten.
We fostered a rescue Brussels Griffon several years ago. Spike hadn't really been abused, just neglected. He was underweight, not particularly socialized, had no idea what toys were for and little, if any, housebreaking. Brussels Griffon Rescue, generally speaking, will not place dogs in homes with small children - for everyone's safety. Our job, aside from taking care of Spike, was to interview the people who were interested in adopting him, checking out their circumstances, and making recommendations to our national coordinator. Several homes were rejected, one most notably, because the little girls had clear intentions of treating Spike as if he were a doll, not a dog.
As it happens, Spike's forever home was with a young couple expecting their first child when they adopted him. It was the perfect fit for Spike - their other small dog was well-treated and well-mannered. And the national coordinator was willing to assess each case individually and make the best choice for each rescue dog. I'm very happy to say that Spike and his sisters, both four- and two-legged, are thriving five years later. It was the right home for him.
If, however, things hadn't worked out, Spike's family signed a contract that I'm sure was very similar to the one Ellen DeGeneres signed for Iggy. Spike was to be returned to us if, for any reason, they were unable to keep him. When Spike became part of the Rescue organization, we committed to him and his care throughout his life. He was no longer an unwanted victim of circumstance.
Ellen signed a contract. It wasn't just a "piece of paper," any more than her contract with whatever network she works for is just a "piece of paper." Crying children on national television wailing they "want their dog back" isn't enough. If the family had gone to the rescue organization, filled out the paperwork, agreed to a "home check" and been approved to adopt Iggy, he would have been their dog.
Rules exist for reasons. In the case of most rescue organizations, they're for everyone's protection. Perhaps the good that will come from this is more people realizing that dogs of every size, shape and temperament are available in shelters and rescues. And Iggy will find the perfect forever home.


jan said...

Excellent points. I've done rescue work too and it is difficult and often painful, even though it is mostly rewarding.

I hate to see someone get beaten up by the press, by organizations looking for some free publicity and by people who don't understand all that is involved in placing dogs in the right homes.

ally said...

Sad but true. We all need to be in a good, safe forever home!

Uncivil said...

Glad to hear about Spike's success story, and hope Ellen Degenerate's hairdresser applies for adoption of Iggy.

Kahshe Cottager said...

Rescue workers are the best... My groomer, Nancy, takes in all breeds for various rescue groups and pampers them with baths, pawdicures and fur-dos to help them feel (look and smell) better. What a difference her contribution makes to a new beginning.