Akita Rescue Society of America

 

Starting a Rescue

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Starting Your Own Rescue

This package was written about 19 years ago as an aid to Akita owners who were interested in beginning their own ARSA Chapter. Because of this package, we had successfully instituted nine ARSA Chapters in the United States. As ARSA became more visible, requests for this informative package arrived from various breed clubs nationwide and this package became the foundation for many other breed rescues including the Alaskan Malamutes. I have tried to keep the information updated. A few paragraphs in the package are directed solely to potential Akita rescues. You may see references to the word "Chapter," however; we are no longer working on a national level. In 1995, each group working under the ARSA banner was honorably released to continue their rescue activities individually. The Akita Club of America was encouraged to take on the responsibility of rescuing its breed on a national level.

ARSA has been doing this work for more than 25 years and we have had more than 1,500 Akitas through our Rescue in Southern California. Add to that the growing numbers coming into our various Chapters and you can see a staggering number of Japanese Treasures being discarded as American garbage! If it can happen to a breed that has had AKC recognition since 1973, you can bet it will happen to your breed! Akitas are killed in shelters all over the country and sold at auctions in the mid-west. They are popular in puppy mills and given away free at swap meets and supermarkets. Genetic diseases and temperament problems increase annually because of unethical breeders and failures by the parent club and the AKC.

I am not convinced purebred rescues are the answer to the overall purebred overpopulation problem but saving a few through the act of rescue is all we have available at this time. Public education takes time to sink in and spread. It works but only with people who already care about the plight of animals. I am very much afraid that anti-dog legislation will continue to be one of the potential choices because the AKC and its breeders are not facing reality by admitting there is indeed a problem, one the taxpayers are forced to fund. The average cost to pick up a medium-sized dog, house it for 72 hours, kill it and pay for disposal at a rendering plant is $54-$65 each. When you multiply this cost by the number of dogs killed in your local shelter, you are funding the hobby breeder with a good chunk of YOUR tax dollar that could be used to educate your children, crime prevention, and other activities beneficial to the entire community.

After you and your group have had an opportunity to study and discuss the "Starting Your Own Rescue" package, let me know if you can come up with any improvements to add on which would assist others in the future.

Barbara Bouyet


WHY RESCUE: a short visit to a few nearby animal shelters and/or humane societies can easily determine the need for a rescue operation in your area. Ask them how many dogs of your breed have come into those shelters during a one-year period and what happened to them. Large breeds are not as easy to place as smaller dogs and you may be shocked to learn that your breed was destroyed. More than 25% of all dogs coming into animal shelters in the United States are in fact purebred! Each year across this country, animal shelters and humane societies kill more than 18 million unwanted animals...a large number of those are purebred and some of them are your breed. Breeds like Akitas, Rottweilers, Amstafs, etc., are frequently not even put up for adoption. They are considered "aggressive" and destroyed if not reclaimed.

Shelters that get your breed and do place them are not selective in finding homes and do not screen potential owners. Most municipal animal shelters and some humane societies simply do not have the time to conduct lengthy interviews before selling dogs. Anyone from the public is allowed to purchase dogs--anyone 18 years or older with a valid driver's license is allowed to purchase from an animal shelter! Personnel in these facilities cannot possibly have expertise in every one of the 150-odd AKC breeds. Because you know your breed well, you are better qualified to screen and advise potential owners about the inherent problems or traits in your own breed. Some of the more aggressive breeds like the Akita end up being sold to guard-dog trainers, dog-fighting crazies, etc. There is a real need for a safe refuge for homeless purebreds and you, as caring, knowledgeable fanciers can do a great deal to insure the future well being of your own breed.

During the 22 years that ARSA/Southern California has been actively rescuing Akitas from shelters, a number of lost Akitas have been reunited with their owners. If not for the existence of ARSA, these dogs would have died before their owners had the opportunity to find them. Because of our reputation as a responsible rescue, nearly every shelter within a 500-mile radius contacts us and we act as a clearinghouse for lost/found Akitas. You would be amazed how far away from home some of these dogs were found!

Now that we've given you a few reasons for starting your own Rescue, here's how to do it:

VOLUNTEERS: The Rescue can be done in conjunction with your local breed club if the membership is willing or it can be an independent effort. If your club is not interested, then you must first talk with other owners of your breed to determine how many volunteers you can interest in a Rescue operation. Assign responsibilities fairly between volunteers. In addition to picking up dogs from shelters, caring for them and placement work, you will have to conduct fund-raising activities and solicit donations.

One of the first things you should consider is incorporating as a non-profit organization in your state. Your Secretary of State can send you the forms and information to help you get this tax-exempt status. You donít need to hire an attorney to help you wade through paperwork--two good minds can easily fill out the forms and any questions you have can be directed back to the state offices.

If the Rescue is to be a club effort, forming a committee to run the Rescue is your first order of business. The club can conduct matches and raffles to support the Rescue; you may request a small percentage of puppy sales go to support the Rescue (10% is not too much to ask), or any other fund-raising ideas the committee comes up with. Most clubs have already incorporated as non-profit groups and this tax-exempt status can usually be used by your Rescue.

KENNEL SPACE: Before you take on the responsibility of even one homeless dog, you should determine where you can keep the animal. If an Akita breeder or owner has extra kennel space and is willing act as a foster home, the dog can be placed with that person. Another alternative is to board the dogs in a commercial kennel. Scout the commercial kennels in your area. Be sure the one you select is clean and the animals are well cared for. Check the kennels' condition--are dangerous wires protruding into the kennel? Are the kennels escape proof? Do they provide adequate shelter? Would you feel comfortable leaving your own Champion or beloved pet in the care of that kennel? Explain to the kennel owner you are a non-profit Rescue organization working with limited funds and ask for a price reduction for your homeless dogs. The kennel owner can write-off as a donation any fee reduction given to your group.

If you are boarding the dogs in a commercial kennel, the only responsibility you can expect the kennel to assume for those animals is to feed them, keep the kennels clean and observe them for any veterinary emergency. You and your volunteers are responsible for grooming, trips to the vet for shots and/or spay/neuters, showing the dogs to prospective adopters, etc. To properly evaluate the temperament of each dog, you will need to spend time with the animal, taking him for walks, playing with him, getting to know him. This one-on-one is vitally important in helping you place the dog in the right home. You cannot simply take a dog from a shelter, drop it off to board and then forget about it until a home comes along. Rescue work is time-consuming but infinitely fulfilling. It makes you feel as if you are doing something very unselfish for a breed that has given you so much over the years.

WORKING THE SHELTERS: With your volunteers ready, the kennel waiting, you can now contact the animal shelters and humane societies. First decide how large an area your group can cover. If each volunteer covers a separate area, you can cover more shelters. When you have decided on the shelters to cover your first priority should be the animal shelters that sell animals for medical research. Dogs sold for medical research are forced to undergo incredible pain and suffering. Any compassionate person would prefer to see the dog humanely euthanized by injection instead of ending up as a victim of medical research. Do not feel safe because you have one of the small breeds--all breeds are used for various procedures. Large and medium breeds are used for surgical procedures both individual and multiple; they are used for burn, brain, wound, electrical shock experiments and countless others.

Once your area is pinpointed, contact the shelters within the area. Leave the names and phone numbers of your volunteers and a good photo of your breed with each shelter. You'd be amazed how many shelter personnel are unfamiliar with purebred dogs. I worked as a volunteer in an animal shelter for many months and the breed labels attached to dogs terrified me! Shelters mark nearly everything as either a poodle-mix, terrier-cross, shepherd cross, dobie-mix or a "husky." One animal control officer brought in a purebred 70-pound curly-coated retriever and listed the dog as a cocker spaniel! In as nice a way as possible, try to educate shelter personnel about the look of your breed. Offer to come back at any time to check on a dog if they are uncertain about its lineage.

After you've made initial contacts with shelters, continue to call or drop by frequently. Haunt the shelter until they automatically think of you when they see a dog that even resembles your breed. Try to build relationships with personnel at shelters. Believe me, they have a very difficult job because more than 6 million abandoned animals are killed in these facilities nationwide, each year!

When your Rescue is operating and has become known, you will be asked to take dogs from their owners. If you refuse to accept these owner turn-ins, the dogs will only be left at the shelter or in the street or given away without much thought or investigation. Licensed USDA Dealers have been working the Free to a good home ads in Los Angeles Newspapers for many years. They pretend they are taking a dog to give it a good home and then the animal is sold for medical research. There are no laws in this country protecting the dog or naive owner against misrepresentation of this type.

Another reason for accepting owner-turn-ins is that some owners will fabricate a story in order to get rid of an incorrigible pet or a dog with unstable temperament. The animal could easily end up in another home with someone who is unprepared and/or unable to deal with it. Let this happen to your breed a few times and the reputation of your breed will be permanently tarnished. Visit the dog in its home environment and assess temperament, behavior patterns, etc. If you simply have no room for another dog, then give the owner as much advice on placement as you can. Perhaps the owner would even be willing to hold on to the dog until you have an opening.

When accepting owner turn-ins, it is a good idea to have the owner sign a release form; a sample is included herein. You can charge the owner two weeks board before accepting the dog. This amount usually is acceptable to the owner and helps defray your costs. Ask for and take the papers on the turn-in, including shot records.

Animals are also abandoned at veterinary offices and boarding kennels. Make some attempt to extend your reputation to these facilities. Send out an introductory letter and/or attempt to get publicity through newspaper interviews, etc. Not only will you be there for your breed should one be abandoned in these situations but vets and boarding kennels can be very helpful in placements.

VETERINARY CARE: See if your own vet or a local vet will work with your group. Be sure the vet has facilities to keep a large dog comfortably for a period of time if your breed is one of the larger breeds. Many dogs come from animal shelters suffering from kennel cough and commercial-boarding facilities will not accept them in that condition. You may need to leave a dog at your vet for a week or so until the dog recovers.

To help cut veterinary costs, you might consider stocking antibiotics to treat simple infections and worming preparations for tapes, rounds, etc. In areas affected by heartworm, you will have to decide if your group can afford the treatment and you will most certainly want to test each dog before putting any more funds into a possibly infected animal.

A responsible rescue will spay or neuter every dog BEFORE placement without exception. If you cannot afford to do this, you should re-think your actions in beginning a rescue. You cannot trust a stranger to spay or neuter a dog and every one of your adopting families are almost always strangers to you. To allow a rescued dog to be bred, even accidentally is a complete violation of the idea of rescue. You are adding to your own work in the future by putting out even more pet dogs. SPAY AND NEUTER!

When you get puppies too young to be spayed/neutered, your investigation of the adopting family must be extra thorough. Puppies should be placed by referral, never through an ad, and certainly NEVER to a family who is renting because the possibility of relocating before the puppy is old enough for sterilization is too real. A family living in their own home is more likely to continue living there more than a family who is not tied to a mortgage or facing an escrow. All rescues get purebred puppies from animal shelters and you will get your share of pups as well, so be prepared to find exceptional homes for these.

There are occasions when a dog must be euthanized by a vet. Hopelessly aggressive dogs are not good prospects for placement and terminally ill dogs should be humanely euthanized. If there is a caring, compassionate volunteer with the dog when it is euthanized, it makes it much easier and less frightening for the animal.

When a dog first comes into your care, allow at least two weeks in the new environment before scheduling the dog for surgery (spay/neuter). The shock of losing a home, being bounced from a shelter to a new situation and immediately subjected to surgery, can cause critical health problems for any dog. Give the animal a chance to acclimate after rescue before surgery.

Depending upon where you live, you may be faced with heartworm. If you are in a heart worm area, you must test each rescued dog and then determine whether or not the dog will undergo treatment. Because this is a serious problem in many areas of the country, a clause should be included in your adoption contract to the effect that adopter must maintain rescue dog on heartworm preventative, etc.

ADOPTION:

Criteria for finding the proper home for your rescued dogs should be formulated well in advance. Sit down with pen and paper and write down everything you consider a perfect home for your breed, i.e. children: yes? No? other pets: yes? No? retired people: yes? No? Etc. You know your breed and obviously, if you're beginning a rescue, you care deeply for your breed. With a little effort you can formulate the "perfect" home, then attempt to get as close to perfection as possible in placements. You should make up a check sheet and as you meet the people, check out their home and then carefully watch the interaction between dog and family, see how they compare as a good home for your breed. It all comes down to common sense. Your Rescue dog has already suffered abandonment, rejection and betrayal--you don't want the animal to suffer ever again, so finding a PERMANENT home for the dog is important and a little effort is worth the security you're guaranteeing the dog.

Before you place a Rescue dog in a home, make up a sound contract for the new owner to sign. A sample contract is included in this package. Some points to remember in your screening process are: a conflict with any resident animals in the home? Does the person have experience with a dog the size of your breed? Will the dog accept children if children are in the home? Since most of your dogs will be from shelters, you will not have any background information on them and some dogs who have experienced childrenís teasing in the past may not accept children. A good general rule to use for large breeds is: no dog over the age of one year will be placed with children under the age of 12. Get a veterinary reference and call to ask how well the family cared for their previous pets and from what exactly did their pets die. Check on fencing, adequate protection from weather, can the family spend enough time with the new pet, etc. Use your common sense.

The dog should be allowed at least a 4-week trial period in the new home. During this trial period, stay in touch with the family to be sure the placement is working out. If not, make certain the dog is returned to your rescue.

Advertising in your local newspapers and word of mouth are the best ways to locate new owners. You can alternate the advertising chore with other volunteers.

You should charge an adoption fee for each dog. It is our belief that anything given away free is eventually discarded! Charge slightly less than the cost of an average pet quality dog of your breed, i.e., if a pet quality dog costs $200, charge at least $150 for your rescue dog. Adoption fees on much older, harder to place dogs can be reduced or waived. ARSAís policy has been to accept a donation on all dogs over the age of 5 years. Akitas 5 years and older are not as easy to place. Generally, people who come to a Rescue are fairly generous and willing to make a donation. These adoption fees will help sustain your work.

Before a dog leaves your Rescue, you should attach a collar and a Rescue I.D. tag. Even if you tattoo the dogs, a visible I.D. is very important. Contact an existing Rescue or an animal shelter in your area to determine the best place for ordering I.D. tags at a good price. Include more than one phone number on the tag. Dogs can get out on occasion and these tags have saved many Akitas during our years of using them. If Microchips are financially feasible for your group and if your shelters scan for the chip, definitely take advantage of this new technology.  See adoption procedures for more information.

LOST AND FOUND: Since many lost dogs find their way to an animal shelter, keeping an accurate list of lost dogs and owner phone numbers will aid you in reuniting dog and owner. Though dogs come in every color, it is often impossible to reconcile a dog with an owner's description. If you can get a photo of the missing dog for your file, it will make your Lost/Found work more effective. We had one owner call on a lost Akita, describing the dog as a fawn with a dark mask. A few months later, a lovely tri-color Akita with a large white blaze down his face was rescued from a shelter 60 miles away. Photos of this dog were used in one of our placement ads and the owner of the "fawn with a dark mask" Akita recognized her dog! Each person describes a dog differently.

Advise owners of lost dogs how to go about finding their animals. Tell them to haunt the shelters in person and not to expect overworked shelter personnel to recognize their dog. Few shelters will examine a dog for a broken rear tooth or a small scar on the upper inside leg! Have them place lost ads in all local newspapers within 150-mile radius--dogs can be picked up and dropped off again in another area. Contact radio stations that offer pet reports; make up flyers with photos to be posted on telephone poles at shopping malls, schools and in the immediate neighborhood. Leave a flyer with the local fire station, police station, Boy Scout group. Advise them to walk or drive through the area calling the dog. Frequently, when a dog is lost, the owner is too upset to think clearly and you can be very helpful.

INFORMATION SERVICE: One way to cut down on the number of dogs coming into your Rescue is to educate the potential puppy buyer about the breed, i.e. not good with children, animal aggressive, dislikes teasing, cute puppies grow into very large dogs, need lots of exercise, etc. You must be honest with yourself about the negative traits in your breed. Periodically place an ad in a well-read newspaper similar to the one we use: "Akitas are not a breed for everyone. Call for more information." That ad in the pet column will bring you many phone calls because people honestly want to select the right breed. Inquiries for puppies can be referred to reliable, responsible breeders. If the caller wants a puppy and asks for a reputable breeder, give them some points on what to require from a breeder, i.e. OFA numbers, CERF, a contract and with what guarantees, etc.

FUNDING: This is always a problem for all humane organizations and raising funds will often test the dedication of your volunteers! It's easy to work as a volunteer for a well-funded group, but when you have to work hard to raise funds, many people balk. Charging adoption fees for each dog will help a little. Holding matches if you are working in conjunction with a club will help. ARSA used to have unique matches--one year we did an Oriental and Rare Breeds Match; another was an Arctic and Rare Breeds Match. We were able to convince some of the breeds to hold their Specialties in conjunction with our matches and we also selected All Breed Obedience because the entries are greater. We had trophies donated by supporters, judges donated their time. We took advantage of the abundant cadre of famous people in Southern California by asking a celebrity to award trophies at each of our matches. We had some delightful celebrity dog lovers join us at these fund raiser. Every one enjoyed working on the matches and we raised a substantial sum of money.

Sell hand-made items at Regional Specialties, sell food at your breed matches; raffle off donated items. You can hold periodic tattoo clinics if you have a trained person to handle the equipment. If your breed is known for genetic problems like PRA, VWD, CHD, thyroid, etc., hold screening clinics with the cooperation of a veterinary specialist. Veterinary specialists are always willing to increase their knowledge base and would probably work with you. You can tack on a handling fee for your Rescue. If one of you is a dog trainer, hold training classes with all proceeds to your Rescue. Member Breeders can be asked to donate a small percentage of their puppy sales towards the Rescue and soliciting donations from anyone capable of writing a check is fair in Rescue work!

FOSTER CARE: Finding foster homes is very difficult, but if you are having some luck in that area, keep the following points in mind:

Investigate and thoroughly check the foster home to be sure there is adequate room, fencing/kenneling and that animals are well treated. Is there protection from weather? What type of food is fed to the animal? Will exercise be provided? Would you feel confident leaving your own animal in this person's care? If the foster home is someone you do not know well, DO check references, both personal and veterinary. Yes, they are doing you a service but that is no excuse to place a dog into a home where it will be ignored, neglected or treated harshly.

Before placing a dog in the foster home, have an understanding with the foster family about time limits, expenses, showing the animal, etc. In other words, will you be forced to relocate the dog after 30 days or can the animal remain until placement however long that may take? If you must pay for food, then how much is fair? Who assumes the transportation to and cost of any veterinary care? Will the family cooperate in allowing the dog to be shown to a prospective adopter? An ideal Foster home is one where the family works on their own initiative to assist in placement. Does the family have any restrictions of type of dog they will accept? Will the foster family turn around and sue your Rescue if the dog damages their property or bites a family member. You might consider having a waiver drawn up and signed by the foster family. Work out the details BEFORE the animal arrives. Here are some guidelines:

                           FOSTER HOME REQUIREMENTS

SANITATION AND HEALTH CARE

When you pick up a rescue dog, expect it to have diarrhea and kennel cough. It may have  parasites as well.

Take a stool specimen to the vet immediately. If it is negative, repeat 
examination in 4-5 days.

Keep rescue dogs isolated from other dogs for at least 10 days. It is safe to assume the dog has worms and kennel cough.

Take common sense precautions to avoid contamination of healthy animals. These include disinfecting food bowls.

Until the dog has been wormed, pick up all stools as soon as possible.

Wash your hands thoroughly after you handle the rescue dog and before you touch anything else.

When the dog leaves you, dispose of all blankets and papers. Scrub sleeping area with disinfectant (this Includes crates), air is possible in bright sunshine.

Scrub or spray kennel area with disinfectant and air thoroughly.

It is important to the dogís welfare and his placement in a good home, that you be a careful and accurate observer. You must spot health and temperament problems as quickly as possible.

Please watch for the following symptoms that may require veterinary attention:

             Watch for dark, liquid or cow-pie type stools.
             Urine - dark yellow, brown, or bloody, straining to urinate, persistent
                    frequent urination.
             Excessive water drinking after the initial settle in period.
             Any discharge from eyes, ears, nose, penis or vagina.
             Persistent temperature over 102 degrees
             Ear odor after ears have been cleaned
             Coughing, especially if it is productive of mucus or blood.
             Audible breathing or hard breathing especially with a bubbling sound.
             Sores or weeping areas on skin, any bumps or lumps on or under
                   the skin.
             Check for fleas, ticks or lice. If they are present use a medicated
                   powder or shampoo as directed.
              Persistent vomiting

        To treat temporary diarrhea, feed smaller amounts more frequently. Switch to a diet less rich in excessive protein and fats.  A typical diet may consist of well cooked rice with a few ounces of lean cooked hamburger, a baked potato. Kaopectate may be used for a day or two to help sooth the intestines. Two tablespoons 3 times daily. Diarrhea that persists more than 2 or 3 days should be treated professionally.

            ROUTINE CARE

Provide a warm, clean bed where the dogs will not be disturbed. Most dogs are near exhaustion with very little reserve energy. Let the dog sleep as long as it wishes.

Do not allow it to play with other dogs until its energy level and strength are adequate (at least 10-14 days for the dogs in better condition, more for dogs in poor condition).

If possible, take before and after photos. Weigh dog when you get it and at 10 day intervals.

Give the dog a name if it does not have one.

As the dog gains strength, keep careful watch for fence jumpers or diggers.

Most rescue dogs are as starved for affection as for food. Observe any little characteristics that might help in placement. Without taxing the dogís strength, check to see if it has been obedience trained, knows about toys, or can chase and retrieve sticks.

Very sick bitches do not come in season, but as they recover, watch for signs of a heat cycle.

FEEDING AND WATERING INSTRUCTIONS

Rescue dogs are usually dehydrated as well as having malnutrition. They will often drink unbelievable quantities of water. Have water available at all times. For the first few days, their kidneys and bladder may not be able to hold the load and dogs who are ordinarily housebroken will have accidents that they cannot help. After 4-7 days, water intake and urination will return to normal.

Feed small amounts of food at frequent intervals. Some dogs can take only a tablespoon of food at a time. Others can handle up to a cup or two. Avoid overloading the dog with large meals or free feeding. All you will get is loose stools and for the half-recovered dog, bloat is a real problem.

Some dogs are so starved that they have no appetite. Tempt them 
with any kind of broth, pieces of liver or meat, anything that will start 
them eating. You may have to open their mouth and pour in a tablespoon of broth to start the swallowing reflex.

Do not feed a high protein diet if the dog is in very poor condition. it 
puts an added burden on the kidneys and irritates the intestines. Use a normal, good dry dog food with no additives except warm water.

Do not give dogs rawhide chewies or bones. Many are so ravenous they will swallow them whole, creating choking or digestive problems. These goodies also take up time and energy better spent on more nutritious food. Hard dog biscuits are a good substitute.

GROOMING

Rescue dogs frequently have a strong body odor. A vigorous brushing, 
cleaning ears and cleaning anal glands will help until it Is safe to bathe.

Bathe the dog only after the third day and then only If the dog seems 
well, has no cough or runny nose, and has a normal temperature.

Clean anal glands during the bath if you havenít already.

Be sure the dog does not get chilled before, during, or after the 
bath. They are very susceptible to upper respiratory infection.

After a bath, clip nails, being sure not to go back too far. Few dogs 
will accept grinding.

If possible, brush teeth, using baking soda and a soft brush or terry 
cloth. Pay particular attention to the gum line.  Expect a small 
amount of bleeding. Look for decay, gum disease, broken or 
abnormal teeth.

Brush coat frequently and vigorously. Expect a considerable loss 
of hair. The coat will frequently have lots of dandruff, but do not 
supplement with oil until the dog is digesting food well and is 
on a normal diet.

          If the dog suffers from malnutrition or starvation, DO NOT OVERFEED.
          SMALL MEALS AT FREQUENT INTERVALS WILL AVOID SERIOUS PROBLEMS.

                                             Foster Home Release Form

Foster parent(s) agree to assume all responsibility for the action of any animal that they foster for (___________________________will/will not provide all food, cost of medical care and crates, if necessary, for such foster animal(s).

Foster parent(s) agree not to sell or to place one of their own dogs with an adoptive family for a period of one year.

                    Dogís Name__________________________AGE______________

                    Description___________________________Tattoo_____________

                     Foster Parent Signature__________________________________

                     Date:_______________________


LIABILITY

During our many years of rescuing and placing Akitas, a known aggressive breed, we have never been sued by anyone for any reason. We do have a moderate disclaimer in our contract but if you are overly concerned with liability, and some people in this crazy age do feel concern, simply ask an attorney to assist you in writing up a stronger waiver of liability and have any adopting family sign the form. Few 
people, even those who are litigious will bother to sue an impoverished non-profitgroup of humane workers. Proper screening, carefully matching dogs with families, and honest education of potential adopters will assure a safe home for the dog and ease your fears of liability.

FOR POTENTIAL AKITA RESCUES:

...Be very honest about the negative traits in this breed. In order to make it well understood to the adopting family, be more negative than positive if necessary. You are bound by moral obligation to the breed to avoid placing Akitas in homes where they will not be properly cared for and you are just as obligated to protect the public from problems with the breed. If you fail to properly educate the adopting family you are failing in your obligations.

...If you have important information on a dog in your possession, i.e., the dog is a fence jumper, does not like children, and has killed cats, etc., that information MUST be given to the adopting family before they make a decision. If you withhold information of this type and the dog attacks a child or another animal, you are legally responsible for the actions of the dog because you withheld important information that may have prevented the incident from occurring.

...Do not place Akitas one year of age and older in homes with children under the age of 12 years, unless you have determined (by careful testing) that the dog loves all children and will not endanger any child. This rule should apply especially to male Akitas between the ages of one to three years.

...Do not place any Akita until you have allowed the dog to remain either in a kennel or foster home long enough to properly and carefully evaluate the dog's temperament.

...Be very careful before placing an Akita in a home with another animal in residence. If the family owns a cat, be certain the Akita they want will accept the cat. Use similar good sense if the resident pet is a dog, bird, farm animal, etc. You do not want to be responsible for the death of an innocent animal due to a bad placement.

...If an Akita has bitten a human being in an unprovoked attack, depending upon the circumstances, the dog may be considered implacable. Akitas who have bitten a human in defense of their home or their owners, must be viewed differently but should still be carefully evaluated. Once an Akita crosses the invisible line to bite, it may not hesitate to do so again.

...Do not do temperament evaluations at the home of an Akita. Akitas will react differently on their own territory and/or in the presence of their owners. Dogs with questionable temperament cannot be properly evaluated in a few short hours but must be kept under observation for at least two weeks, and this should be done in an environment that is strange to the dog. Make arrangements either with a trusted vet or a reliable kennel to conduct prolonged temperament evaluations. The cost of the two-week minimum stay should be the responsibility of the dog's owner.

...Because people often lie about the reasons for giving up their Akita, any male Akita between the dangerous ages of 9 months to 2 years should not be taken directly into a kennel or foster home. Make arrangements with a veterinarian in advance and ask the vet to evaluate the dog's temperament carefully during a two-week period. You should charge the boarding bill to the owner of the dog IN ADVANCE. If the owner will not agree to this, then have the dog turned into a shelter you trust and allow it to remain there for a few days. Ask the shelter staff to assist in evaluating the dog.

...If you have doubts about the temperament of an Akita at the animal shelter, use utmost caution. You do not want to rescue a dog that will have to be euthanized almost immediately.  Pass on dogs exhibiting serious aggressive tendencies. If youíre new to the Akita breed, donít attempt rescue unless you have the support and guidance of an experienced Akita breeder, someone who is familiar with the behavior of Akitas. Take them along for shelter evaluations.

...Remember, the goal is not to rescue regardless of ability but to rescue and provide excellent boarding, veterinary and psychological care for each Akita.

...Gathering Akitas to save them from death may not be offering them a better deal if they are to be warehoused in kennels for the balance of their lives. Do not take on more dogs than you can place into good homes. The goal is not to be a collector but to find good homes for each dog.

...At this website youíll find a sheet called "FACTS ABOUT AKITAS." Please give this out to anyone interested in adopting an Akita. The second handout to be given with the Akita is also included here entitled "HEALTH/SAFETY AND YOUR AKITA." You should give the adopting family some information about the Akita's requirements.

WORKING TOGETHER AS VOLUNTEERS

When any medium or large group of volunteers work together, problems can arise if you do not first take time to organize each individuals' responsibilities and set up some workable rules for yourselves. We suggest the following:

...For purposes of non-profit status, you will have to decide on an individual as Director. This  is merely a title and not a license to dictate or control your group. Your volunteers should agree at the outset to have equal voting privileges on all matters of policies and in rectifying any problems that may arise among you.

...Before accepting a dog into your group, you should discuss this with any members who will be affected by the addition of an Akita, especially with your kennel facility or foster home.

...You should all have an equal right to approve the spending of funds and agree on any fund-raising projects. No secrets, you are equally responsible for your rescue and the dogs.

...If possible, you should periodically alternate responsibilities regarding interviewing adopters, working with the dogs, transporting dogs, placing advertisements and screening homes, doing house checks, fund-raising, sending out information packets, handling lost/found and public education, etc.

...You should all have an equal vote on any need for euthanasia and in determining needed medical care for Akitas.

...You should all agree on setting up adoption requirements and aims.

...You should all have an equal right to vote on any new volunteers to be certain newcomers will fit in well with your present group.

In other words, democracy is the form of government used in this country and because it works so well for the U.S. it will work for your rescue.

SUGGESTED POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

When a dog with ARC papers comes into your Rescue and the papers indicate a breeder, immediately contact the breeder with the following options: (1) The breeder may take the Akita back and reimburse you on any shelter fees or expenses. (2) The breeder may leave the dog with your Rescue but pay the board and vet expenses. (3) The breeder may partially fund the dog and assist your group in placement. Few reputable breeders will turn their backs on the dogs they have bred.

If you do get an Akita with AKC papers, you must speak to the breeder before you spay or neuter or place that dog. The breeder has the option of making a decision on their own dogs. If they refuse responsibility for the dog, they cannot, of course, have any voice in the care of that dog and you may then immediately spay/neuter. If the breeder of record is not interested in taking back their Akita, and if you know the owner of the sire of that Akita, you may notify them that a puppy from their sire is in the Rescue and allow them to assume responsibility if they wish. This is NOT a requirement but a courtesy. The owners of sires are technically NOT responsible for the breeding. Only the owner of the bitch is morally and technically responsible for the breeding and placements.

In the State of California, you can lose your non-profit status if you take a found dog off the street and immediately find a new home for the animal. That is considered stealing. In general do not take found dogs unless you purchase them from an animal shelter. If the finder has had the dog for longer than 30 days and during that period, has advertised to find the owner for 5 days in a large newspaper and has listed the dog with two animal shelters, ownership of the dog reverts to the finder. Please find out what laws govern your city and state and please make no exceptions in adherence to the laws.

EUTHANASIA: This is always a delicate subject...there are people who are strongly against euthanasia for most any reason, and some people believe in euthanizing for the slightest provocation. There are times when you must euthanize a dog but for the sake of the animal, this decision MUST be put to a vote of your board or your group of volunteers. Dogs who show unprovoked aggression towards a person must be candidates; dogs suffering from a terminal or long-term painful illness may also be considered. Just because you do not like the personality, color or look of a dog is not a reason for euthanizing that animal. This should be a well thought out and thoroughly discussed decision.

When a decision to euthanize has been reached, this should be done humanely by your Rescue vet. You need not be present, but if the dog gains security from your presence, it would be an unselfish and humane act to remain with the dog until the end.

REFUNDS ON ADOPTION FEES: If for any reason the placement is not working out, the dog should be returned to the Rescue. Refunds can be made but only after the first month. This fact should be made known to the adopting family. It makes no sense to allow the dog to remain in an unsuitable home and if the family has honestly given the dog a fair time to adapt (a month); it also makes little sense to keep their money and their dog!

Good luck on your venture.

AKITA RESCUE SOCIETY OF AMERICA

Barbara Bouyet

FORMS:  Adoption Agreement and Procedures

© 1986 Barbara Bouyet