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My So-Called Rescue: Jezebel’s Story

“Jezebel arrived smelling like she had been sitting in her own waste for days, and was about 15 lbs heavier than they had stated she would be. Her front left leg had a very noticeable limp. We took the next five days to settle her into her new home and routine. She was one of us instantaneously, enjoying all the pats and snuggles she could get. However, she did have trouble walking down the stairs and at times she would whimper on walks”.
-Jezebel’s new Mom.

Have you heard a story like this? More and more, we are being contacted by people who have adopted a dog from a so-called “rescue”, only to find that the dog has undisclosed health and/or behaviour issues. Even worse, when they contact the original rescue for support, they receive even more headache and heartache.

Last week we shared the story of Petey and the life-saving surgery his family was forced to pay for, because this same “rescue” refused to help and told his family to euthanize him.

The story we are sharing today is about Jezebel, a lovely dog who was experiencing chronic pain from the very start. When her new family took her to Canada West Veterinary Specialists, they recommended the leg be amputated. In fact, three veterinarians recommended the leg be amputated. When her new family contacted the “rescue” for support, not only did they not receive any – the rescue became hostile and demanded that Jezebel be returned to Houston!

Luckily for Jezebel, her new family did not back down. They loved her, and they knew that sending her back to Houston, a six-day trip with an uncertain outcome would be cruel.

They fundraised the $5,000 required for the leg amputation and the surgery was a success. Jezebel is living a very happy life with her new family, but it didn’t come without a lot of stress, financial and emotional hardship.

No family should go through this when they are adopting a dog, but in this unregulated environment these stories are becoming more and more familiar. Not only are we heartbroken to keep hearing them, but every time we speak out, we are accused of being “anti-import” or sabotaging the efforts of groups trying to save lives.

Let me be absolutely clear, our issue is not where the animal is coming from. Our issue is the unethical, irresponsible and borderline criminal behaviour these so- called rescue organizations engage in.

Time and time again, people come to us or one of our rescue colleagues for help because they have a pet with significant and undisclosed health or behaviour issues. It becomes clear that the “rescue” likely skipped screening and vetting steps, and when made aware of the issues, they refused to provide support. And more often than not, the individual representing the rescue begins engaging in threatening and bullying behaviour. Because of this, the adopter does not want to go public and there is no opportunity to warn the public and expose these practices.

We are also often contacted by people who are interested in adopting a dog from a “rescue” with questionable practices and reach out to us for support. Up until now, when someone reaches out to me, I try to educate them and direct them to resources on sourcing reputable rescue organizations and avoiding “red flags”. At the end of the day, I realize that the ultimate decision is theirs. However, given the increase in the number of dogs coming through these “rescues” – even now with travel restrictions in place! – and the number of people who have ended up with sick dogs in the last week alone, our recommendation has changed.

Until government regulations and/or AWANBC’s Accreditation Program are operational, it is our recommendation not to adopt from a “rescue” or individual who participates in International dog trafficking, including the US mass rescue transports practices
. This may mean you will have to wait longer to get the perfect family member, but it will also ensure that you when you do find your new pet, you can meet them first, work directly with a local representative, and have a better chance of knowing what you are signing up for. In addition, if things do not work out, you can rest assured that the rescue organization or shelter will take them back.

As an animal welfare organization, one of our priorities is to support rescue. We exist because we value the human-animal bond, and it hurts us to tell people NOT to adopt when they see a face online or hear a sad story. But it hurts us more to see people and animals failed. They deserve better, and we need to keep working together to ensure that animals from all countries get a bare minimum of care and consideration before being placed in a home.

Kathy Powelson
Executive Director

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