First, it is important to understand that there are 6 primary roles in Rescue. Some Rescuers are specialists and concentrate on a single role. Others perform multiple roles. And some tasks occasionally fall under different roles. Here are the 4 basic roles:
Here is what is basically involved for each role:
Rescuers, including SRN's National Rescuer Coordinator, handle the tasks of determining which dogs SchipperkeRescue.Net will take in, which ones can be moved directly from original home to new home without ever actually coming into rescue, and what must be done before any dog can be taken in.
Pre-intake involves working with shelters or animal controls that happen to have one or two Schipperkes in their facility, individuals who have to surrender a single dog, and, even, law enforcement who deal with puppy mill or hoarder raids that result in as many as 50 dogs at one time.
Pre-intake Rescuers first make sure that the dog requesting intake actually is a purebred Schip, well-bred or not. It isn't that we wouldn't like to help mixes and other breeds - we just don't have the resources to do so. They also have to try to get a Bailment Agreement on every dog they can, especially those coming from individuals.
Next the Pre-intake Rescuer has to determine the condition of the Schip(s), health-wise and behavior-wise. Although the criteria for acceptance is pretty broad, there are limitations. For example, we cannot take in a dog with a history of biting. Such a history precludes our being able to adopt such a dog. And, even though we will take in rescues with health issues and provide them with medical care, we often cannot handle health issues that even with correction would not allow a quality of life for the dog.
The next question the Pre-intake Rescuer must handle is whether the dog needs critical or immediate medical care and/or quarantine from other dogs or possible family members and how to get the essential issues taken care of before the dog is allowed into a Foster home.
Then the issues to be assessed is who can foster the dog given the circumstances both of the dog and the Foster home and personnel. This is often the most difficult as there are limited foster volunteers, most of whom already have multiple foster dogs in their homes.
And, finally, once all the above is determined, the Pre-intake Rescuer must make all the arrangements to ensure the dog gets the care and transportation it needs to reach its temporary (foster) home.
The Bailout role is relatively simple, when that is all that has to be done. It primarily involves the physical act of removing the dog from its current environment and transporting it to its Foster home or other temporary environment, which may include a veterinarian.
Where it may become complicated, however, is when it comes to the actual functions involved. For example, although the Pre-intake Rescuer has done his/her very best to determine that the dog is, in fact, a Schipperke, the Bailout Rescuer may get to the shelter or individual's home only to discover that the dog is not a Schip. That's when it gets very hard and emotionally painful for the Rescuer. There is nothing that tears one apart so much as to have to say, "No, we cannot take the dog." Here again, it isn't that SRN is heartless. It's a matter that we simply cannot handle non-Schips or mixes as we have no means of placing them nor can we afford to take care of them.
Another issue the Bailout Rescuer can face is a dog that, despite what the Pre-intake Rescuer was told, the dog does actually bite. Here again, we simply cannot handle dogs that have a bite history. Each rescue dog goes into someone's home. That home may have children who visit or even live there. We also cannot in good conscience adopt out a dog that has a bite history. So, again, the Bailout Rescuer has to do the hard thing and say, "No."
The other responsibility the Bailout Rescuer has is to ensure that all the paperwork is properly filled out completely and signed. This is often not as simple as it sounds and cannot be applied in every instance, but the more paper we have the more likely the information we have for the vet and for the Foster home is accurate.
With any luck, however, the new rescue is picked up from its origin, tucked safely into the Rescuer's vehicle and taken to the next stage in its journey to a new home.
Transport Rescuers are some of the most dedicated volunteers in the world. There are thousands of people who spend some or all of each weekend of their lives meeting a stranger along a highway somewhere, transferring as few as one or as many as 10+ dogs of many breeds to their vehicles and driving anywhere from 20 to 300 miles and more, just to hand the dogs off to another driver - one of a long chain of fantastic people all over the country who help move dogs from kill shelters to rescues where they can be adopted.
Sometimes a transport can be a single driver who decides to act as Bailout Rescuer as well and pick up a Schip at a shelter in one state and drive the dog cross country to its Foster home.
There are even organizations such as Air Angels and Animal Rescue Flights of caring pilots who fly their own planes to facilitate animal rescue.
SchipperkeRescue.Net volunteers work with many organizations to help them get dogs moved as well as tapping into them to move rescue Schips from where they are to where they are needed and wanted.
Foster Home Rescuers are the life blood of rescue. There aren't enough wonderful things that can be said of these dedicated volunteers. The Foster home is where rescued Schips learn to adapt to a new environment, develop manners, get their health in order with tests, vaccinations, spay/neuter, dental care, and so much more.
What a Foster Rescuer provides a rescued Schip depends on what the Schip needs and the home meeting those needs.
A young Schip may learn how to play or may learn how to sit/stay. A shy Schip may learn to trust people sufficiently to snuggle with them. An only-dog Schip may learn how to adapt to a pack. A dominant Schip may learn his/her place in that pack. A pushy Schip may learn how to share toys and food, while a more retiring Schip may learn how to make sure no one takes his dinner away from him. Schips learn to walk on leads without pulling, not to jump up on people or nip them when they leave and a myriad of other lessons just like their forever counterparts. All in all, they learn what they need to know to be able to adapt to a forever home.
Foster Rescuers also evaluate physical issues of their rescues. Just like their own dogs, they watch for illness or injury symptons and ensure they are addressed by a veterinarian quickly. They provide medicine to those who need it, toys for those who want to play, comfy beds for nappers, and lots of petting and snuggling for all.
Fosters are the best source of information on a rescue dog. Not only is their job to get a dog ready for a forever home, it is also to help determine what kind of home would be best in which to flourish. They work closely with the Rescue Coordinators to determine which applicant is best for each dog.
Some fosters elect to be long-term foster homes, usually for the older dogs - those over 10 or who suffer from chronic illnesses like arthritis or congestive heart failure - who are not likely to be adopted. SRN is uncommon among rescue organizations in that we accept senior dogs as long as there is a possibility off quality of life. No dog is refused simply due to age. We firmly believe that all Schips deserve as long a life as they can enjoy.
Of course it is not uncommon for new Foster Rescuers to fail at fostering. Actually, that simply means that they fall in love with their fost dogs and adopt them themselves. The truth is that almost all Foster Rescuers fail at fostering at least once.
Foster Rescuers' role takes them beyond adoption as well. They remain in contact with adoptive homes to provide support, advice, and friendship to both adopters and adoptees long after the adoption has taken place.
Their final job in most cases is the introduction of the foster dog to the prospective adopter to see how they get along and whether they bond quickly. Theirs is the final say when it comes to the expected success of the adoption.
In most cases a rescued Schip goes directly from Bailout to Foster home. But in instances circumstances require an intermediate step for a number of reasons. Intake Rescuers are often those who take interim responsibility for Special Needs Schips. These may include those who are heartworm positive or needing surgery or other unusual health issues. Other instances include those coming from puppy mills where they've never been out of a cage or had loving human hands on them and are certainly not ready to go into a home with children or other dogs or lots of activity, etc.
Intake specialists also deal with abused animals or those with special emotional issues such as excessive shyness or fear. These wonderful volunteers are specially trained and equipped to deal with behavioral or physical issues. They take them into their homes following surgery for rehabilitation or to bring them out of their shells slowly so they can be moved to the next stage, i.e. a Foster home.
Application Evaluation is one of the toughest rescue roles there is. At SRN the role is usually handled by the Rescue Coordinators. But independent Rescuers often handle this as well as most of the other roles as well.
At SRN, the Adoption Application is only the first step for the potential adoptive home. It provides some basic information that helps the interview conversation get started.
Whether in person or over the phone, this interview is comprehensive - not because there is any suspicion of anything but rather because SRN wants to ensure the best possible match between the dog and the new owner.
The interview will go far beyond basic information. Prospective adopters may be asked about schedules, the personalities of everyone in the home, who comes regularly into the home, how long is everyone gone, what time they get up in the morning, what time they go to bed at night, what their favorite activities are. They will chat about past experiences with pets, favorite foods, or anything that comes to mind.
The Rescuer will chat with as many people in the household as possible. He/she listens to ensure that everyone is amenable to such an adoption, their perceptions of what they expect having a new Schip in their home might be, their reservations, their hopes, the atmostphere of the home and so very much more.
Everything the Rescue Coordinator hears helps him/her find the best rescue dog for the home and the best home for a particular rescue dog. This is not a first-come-first-served process. It is a process of matching. Prospective adopters see a picture and may think that is the dog for them, but in fact the personality of the dog just might drive them crazy. They might want a dog to go walking with, but the dog is a couch potato. Or vice versa. There are so many factors in a good match, but SRN has found that this is best process. We've rarely had a dog returned.