german shepherd rescue


PLEASE consider behavioral modification and obedience training strategies to resolve problematic behaviors before giving up on your dog. The majority of dogs are relinquished to shelter or rescue because of behavioral issues that can be readily resolved through appropriate training. Your commitment to a few hours of learning and training with the help of a professional trainer might very well be the key to avoiding giving your dog up and exposing it to the risk of a traumatic upheaval, unhappy existence being bounced from home to home, or ultimate euthanasia.

If you find yourself in a situation where you can no longer keep your purebred German Shepherd Dog, relinquishing your dog to your local shelter should not be your only option. Most shelters are underfunded and their staff overworked, and consistently full to overflowing with relinquished and stray companion animals. Your dog may face the risk of being euthenized unless your local shelter is a "no kill" facility with a strong adoption program in place. There are several other options available to you if you are considering re-homing your purebred German Shepherd Dog.

  • If the reason you are considering relinquishing your dog is because your dog is showing physical or behavioral changes, first have your dog thoroughly examined by a veterinarian knowledgeable of your breed. A number of behavioral changes are caused by health-related issues, and your veterinarian is your best resource for correctly diagnosing and treating your dog.

  • Apply behavioral modification strategies to resolve behavioral problems, or consult with a qualified dog trainer or canine behaviorist with German Shepherd breed experience to determine a training plan that will resolve the problems and create a successful lifetime relationship with your dog.

  • Contact the breeder from whom you obtained the dog and inquire if they will take the dog back. Responsible breeders will.

  • Contact a breed rescue group in your area. Alternatively, conduct a search on Petfinder for the same breed of dog that you are re-homing, and contact the regional rescue groups that are offering dogs of that breed for adoption and ask if they can assist you in re-homing your dog.

  • Utilize one of the online pet placement services such as Petfinder, where you can place a "classified ad" or locate rescue groups in your geographic region. Additional on-line resources are linked on the Rescue Links Page. (These online listing services are helpful placement resources for mixed breed dogs also.)

  • Contact your local German Shepherd breed clubs and training clubs.

  • Ask your veterinarian if they know of someone seeking a German Shepherd Dog to adopt; if the clinic has a bulletin board, post a notice there.

  • If your German Shepherd is under two years of age and possesses outstanding temperament and working potential, contact your regional law enforcement K9 Units, Search and Rescue groups, or a training and placement program and inquire of their selection criteria to determine if your dog qualifies for further evaluation for a potential service career.

  • As the very last resort, advertise in your local newspaper and carefully screen all applicants. Beware of advertising that your dog is "free to a good home". An additional article detailing what happened to a dog advertised as free. You'll find helpful guidelines for placing an ad and screening applicants online in .pdf format.

  • Consider consulting an allergist for testing and treatment options before giving up your dog because you or a family member are presumed to be "allergic to the dog".

  • Make sure your dog is housetrained, crate trained, and leash trained, and has at least some basic obedience training before attempting to re-home it. Untrained dogs, especially those not yet housetrained, are more difficult to place.

  • Be prepared to honestly answer questions from potential adopters. Tell the truth about your dog's history, temperament, and strengths and weaknesses. Remember, there is no such thing as a "perfect dog." Being open and honest about the areas that require some work or special management will help you match your dog with the most qualified adopter. If you misrepresent your dog in a misguided effort to enhance its adoptability, you are doing the dog and the adopter a great disservice that is likely to result in a failed adoption.

  • You will greatly increase your dog's chance of adoption if before offering your dog for adoption you have it examined by a veterinarian to identify any health issues and bring vaccinations current. This is especially important if you are offering an older adult or senior dog; consider having full bloodwork done by your vet (commonly referred to as a "geriatric panel") prior to offering a senior dog for adoption, to assure potential adopters that the dog is in good physical condition at the time of adoption.

  • Have your dog bathed, groomed and brushed; ears cleaned; and toenails clipped prior to meeting potential adopters. Be sure your dog is wearing a clean, attractive collar or harness.

  • Regardless of the method you use to re-home your purebred German Shepherd Dog, make sure your dog is spayed or neutered first! Otherwise your dog may be irresponsibly bred, adding to the countless number of purebred German Shepherd Dogs in rescues and shelters nationwide.

  • Never advertise your dog "free to good home." Click here to learn why.

  • Please read the Before You Adopt guidelines so that you'll be fully prepared to answer the types of detailed questions asked by the well-informed, well-prepared, and qualified potential adopters you want to match with your dog.

  • Some "rules of thumb" for the most successful re-home placements:

    • If your dog has not been raised with young children, only consider placement in households without young children.

    • Regardless of your dog's experience with young children, to ensure the most successful adoption, only consider placement in households where children are age 10 or older.

    • If your dog has not been raised in a household with cats, it's best to consider placement in a non-cat owning household.

    • If your dog has not been raised with other dogs, it's best to consider placement in a household without other dogs.

    • If there is a dog already in residence, it should not be the same gender as your dog, and it should not demonstrate any dog aggression.

    • If you're considering placing your dog in a household with another dog in residence, arrange an introductory meeting between the two dogs at a neutral location to ensure they are a good match.

    • Do not consider placing your dog in a household where there is another intact (unspayed or unneutered) dog in residence.

    • When considering a placement, meet all of the family members to ensure the dog is welcomed by and is the best match for everyone.

    • Do not consider placing your dog unless there is a secure, fenced exercise area at the prospective home.

    • Know the prospective adopter's prior dog owning experience, and particularly what happened to each dog (death because of old age, illness, or accident; given up because of a move; lost; etc.).

    • Don't place a dog for the purpose of replacing a recently deceased dog. People in mourning tend to think of their deceased dog as "perfect" and are often searching for another "perfect" dog based on emotional need, rather than on the reality of their being able to accept and manage a dog that can't be 'just like' their deceased dog.

    • Don't place a dog to "keep company" for an existing dog. If the potential adopter's existing dog is "lonely" (lacking human companionship), a second dog will be, also.

  • Information about introducing a new dog, introducing dogs and cats, and other helpful post-adoption resources are available in the Library of Articles.

  • If you're re-homing your dog as a private placement, request references from potential adopters and personally visit the adopter's home to ensure that your dog is going to a safe, clean, and secure environment.

  • Complete a formal Adoption Agreement detailing all relevant information and have it signed and dated by both parties to the adoption. It's recommended that you ask for and make a photocopy of the adopter's photo ID, such as a Drivers License. Use this simple Adoption Agreement, or find additional examples of breed rescue Adoption Agreements to refer to when writing your own formal adoption agreement by conducting a Google search using the keywords "german shepherd rescue adoption agreement."

  • Additional articles about rehoming your dog are published on the WonderPuppy web site.

Rev. 010105

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