Frequently Asked Questions
The following are some of the more commonly asked questions for rescue organizations. We have answered them based on the practices and beliefs of those involved in Ivy Roads Canine Rescue. Any differences between Ivy Roads and other canine rescues are simply differences in opinions and should not be viewed as "right" or "wrong". If you have any additional questions or would like any further clarification please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to address your questions.
1. Why aren't your rescue dogs free?
he adoption fee for our dogs is based on the cost of keeping a dog in our care for their foster period and to cover the usual vet work required before we are able to put a dog up for adoption. These expenses include, but are not limited to: food, vaccinations, heartworm testing and medication, and spay/ neuter. More often than not, the expense of fostering a dog is much more than the adoption fee so we also have to depend of the generosity of our volunteers and supporters. Ivy Roads is completely volunteer run, and all monies from the adoption fees are used to pay the hard costs of fostering our dogs. Without the adoption fees we would not be able to continue helping dogs find the forever homes they deserve.
2. Why do I have to go through a lengthy adoption process? Shouldn't you want me to take the dog off your hands so you can help another dog?
We truly want nothing more than for our foster dogs to find their forever homes in a timely manner. The longer they stay in foster care, the more they get comfortable in our homes and the longer it takes for them to transition to their new home. With that being said, adopting a dog to the wrong home is something we strive greatly to avoid. If we don't approve an applicant for one of our dogs that does not mean that they are a "bad" or "unfit" home, just that they are not the right home for that particular dog. Our adoption process is designed to tease out any possible problems that may arise with the addition of THAT dog. If we adopt a dog into a home where the dog is not a good fit, not only is that stressful for you, the adopter, but can be traumatizing for the dog. In a best case scenario the original foster home is still open and the dog can go back to a home it is familiar with, but in some cases the foster home will have a new foster and the dog will have to make another transition to a new foster home, then a new adoption home, and so on, adding trust and stability issues the whole way through. That is not to say that we would rather have the adopters suffer with a dog they dislike, or send it to a shelter instead of us, its's completely the opposite. We would MUCH rather one of our dogs come back to us, and in fact insist upon it, and we will make whatever changes necessary to accommodate having the dog back with us. But you can see that we would rather identify any potential problems with an adoptive home than have a dog be juggled in and out of homes.
3. Most of your mastiffs require mastiff or dominant dog experience, I want to adopt a mastiff but I've never owned one before? Should I just go buy a mastiff puppy?
It certainly is very easy in this day and age to buy a mastiff puppy, the pages of Kijiji are flooded with them, but just because you get a mastiff as a puppy doesn't mean that it will be easier. Also consider that mastiffs sold on the internet can be from backyard breeders or puppy mills who are in breeding for the money and care little about the health and temperament of their puppies, or their suitability in your home. Mastiffs are an inherently difficult breed because of their typical size and temperament, and the decision to bring one in your home (even a puppy) should not be taken lightly. If you have done proper research, have a mastiff friendly home, and are earnest in your reasons for adopting a mastiff, it will be evident in your application, and we will not necessarily exclude you from adopting a dog from us. It is not common but there are also some occasions when we have particularly complacent mastiffs who do not require dominant dog experience. One of the reasons for requiring previous mastiff experience is that we need to know that an owner will be able to manage any behavioural problems we know exist, or that may arise. We try our best to expose our foster dogs to many types of situations and learn their reactions, but we can not expose them to EVERY situation, and we need to know if a problem arises that you won't be afraid of your dog, and that you can handle the issue. As we mention in the breed descriptions, it is common for mastiffs to "test" their people, and this can be anything from simple disobedience, to growling, nipping, or biting. If it's the latter it is almost certain we are aware of this potential and it will be fully disclosed in the dog's bio and addressed with any potential adopter, but even a nip or a growl from a 120lb mastiff can be unsettling if you're not used to it. To bring it back to the original question, even if you buy a puppy, your mastiff may try this with you, and this is one of the major reasons we find mastiffs in shelters. Mastiff puppies tend to be deceivingly well-behaved. Owners believe they don't have to train them, or set rules or boundaries for their mastiff because it is just THAT good, and then as soon as the dog begins to test their dominance it can be overwhelming, frightening, and dangerous in some situations, particularly if there are young children or elderly family members in the home.
If you have done the research, found a dog with us that you love, and we won't adopt to you then please feel free to ask us why and we would be happy to discuss with you whether your home isn't suitable for that particular dog, or if we think their is an aspect of your lifestyle at the time that doesn't seem suitable for a mastiff at all. With applicants in the past, we have helped identify the traits in a mastiff they are fond of, and helped them to find another breed with those traits that may be more suitable for their lifestyle at the time. And that doesn't mean they should never get a mastiff, it may be that they have infant children, and a smaller, less time consuming breed would be a better fit. Or that they don't have the time to invest in continued training because of a heavy work load, so maybe a less dominant more willing to please breed would be a better match. Whatever the reason, please don't be discouraged from adopting! There are thousands of wonderful dogs in need (including puppies), and we hope that you will take the time to wait for the right match instead of rushing out to purchase a puppy from a non-reputable source.
4. Why are most of your dogs not fit for homes with small children?
e do this as a safety precaution for all parties involved, you, us, and the dog. Although we do take some owner surrenders, most of our dogs are from shelters and we know little if anything of their background. Even in owner surrenders we can receive little, incomplete, or false information about the dog's history. For this reason we don't know what a dog's experience has been with children, and because we don't want to put anyone's children in harm there is limited testing we can actually perform to see how they will react to various situations involving children. To exacerbate the problem, the size of a mastiff is a HUGE liability with children. A nip from a Sheltie may cause a child some discomfort, a nip from a mastiff might require stitches. Some of the common situations that arise (which are of no fault to a child) are trying to take a bone from a dog, startling a sleeping dog, falling onto a dog, pulling ears or tails, or dropping their own food or toys and trying to take it back from the dog. And yes these are natural for children to do, but growling, nipping, or biting is also a natural for a dog to do. Do not think that we condone dogs biting if startled, but it can and does happen and we do not want to risk anyone but especially not a child to be on the other end. Because this, we require for most dogs that the children be at least over 10 years of age. Old enough to respect a dogs space, and understand any precautions with it.
5. I would like a Mastiff or Bull Terrier puppy but it is too expensive to purchase from a breeders, can I avoid that cost by getting a cheap puppy from rescue? I am only interested in a puppy, though, not a young adult, or adult dog.
One of the most common adoption inquires we get are from someone looking to adopt a puppy. Much of the time it is someone looking to avoid the high cost of purchasing a puppy from a reputable breeder. We would like to caution anyone that is looking to rescue solely as a cheap alternative to buying from a breeder. One of the resons that it is expensive to buy from a reputable breeder is that they invest a lot of time and money into their breedings. They fully vet the parents, testing their joints, hips, eyes, etc. to make sure that they are breeding healthy dogs and producing healthier puppies. They show the dogs to demonstrate their dogs are good representations of the breed. They weed out poor health and poor temperaments so that the next generation of dogs are happier and healthier than ever. If you are looking for a breeder quality dog from rescue, it simply isn't going to happen. When we bring dogs into rescue we're not bringing them in just to move a product, we're trying to give a good dog that was dealt a bad hand, a second shot at a good life. Below we have outlined some of the resons an adopter would prefer a puppy over a young adult or adult dog, and our reasons as to why maybe you shouldn't discount a rescue dog simply becuase it's a little older.
(a) I worry that if I get an adult dog I wouldn't have it for very many years before it dies.
This is a sentimate that we completely understand, and in fact we all continue to struggle with it. The fact remains though that the lifespan of a rescue dog, to a certain extent, is luck of the draw. We can do everything in our power to feed, vet, and nuture a dog to encourage longevity, but there are so many factors that we cannot guarantee that even getting a puppy would give us more than a good few years. For instance, your puppy could have a genetic form of cancer that onsets at 2, or develops a crippling joint disease at the age of 5. Likewise, I have met dogs that were adopted as 4 year olds that live to be 14, and ten years with a dog is nothing to scoff at! So maybe if a 2 0r 3 year old that appears to be a good match pops up in rescue, it's worth a little investigation before you competely write it off.
(b) I don't want an older dog because it will have behavioural problems and I don't want to retrain it.
This one hits a sore spot with us. Granted we do get dogs into rescue that require a lot of work and will require an especially dedicated forever home, but many of the problems that land dogs in rescue are nothing outside of what you would encounter during normal development from puppyhood to adulthood. If you don't feel confident that you could appropriately address dominance in a mastiff or nipping in a Bull Terrier then should readdress whether these breeds are right for you. There is actually a silver-lining in getting a mature dog from us, we know what the dog's adult temperament is and we fully disclose it to you. Many dogs don't really start to show their true colours until their adolescent years, so sometimes the puppy you thought you got is not the adult you end up with. We also know what kind of routine works for that dog so you will know even before you bring the dog home if it will be a good fit for your household. And ask any BT owner, they'll tell you missing the puppy years of a Bull Terrier could be a blessing!
(c) I don't want to deal with the health problems a rescue may have or develop.
Like the two previous questions, getting a puppy won't actually guarantee that your mastiff or Bull Terrier will be healthier. And like with temperament, getting a dog at the 2+ years age can actually help you to avoid the heartbreak of many disorders, such as hip dysplasia. We disclose all health issues of our rescue dogs so that you can decide if it's something you can deal with, either financially or other. In many cases we've already done the diagnostic work, you just need to keep them on the program.
. I want to surprise my significant other or family member with a dog, why won't you adopt to me without them knowing?
Adopting (or purchasing for that matter) a dog is a huge decision and needs to be thoroughly discussed with all members of the household, as well as anyone that may be involved in the care of that dog. Even if you have discussed it in general, the decision on that particular dog also needs to be discussed and agreed upon. When we bring a dog to it's potential home we need them to meet all members of the household, to make sure everyone is comfortable with the dog and vice versa. It's not uncommon for dogs to end up in shelters because a member of the house dislikes, or resents the dog, and having to care for it. Think of it like bringing a new roommate into the house without them being part of the decision making process, because that's what your mastiff will be. A big, hairy, slobbery roommate that never cleans up after themselves. You'll want to make sure everyone is on the same page.
7. Why do you charge an owner surrender fee?
When we are accepting owner surrenders, we often ask for a surrender fee as one of the conditions of acceptiong a dog into our program, although on occasion we do waive surrender fees for extenuating circumstances. There are many reasons it can be expensive to have dogs in our care, from vet fees, to food bills, gas, and much more. All of the dogs that come into our care are taken to our rescue vet to be evaluated, heartworm tested, and have their vaccinations brought up to date. Even if the dog has recently seen its previous owner's vet, we still schedule a visit so that our vet has met the dog and we have a baseline for health should anything occur while they are in foster care or in their new home. On average our veterinary fees for having a dog health checked, microchipped, and brought up to date on vaccines is $200. If the dog also has to be sterilised we expect to pay at least an additonal $150. This is our cost on a healthy dog, should the dog require any medication, and during the summer when we treat for heartworm and flea prevention, our costs can be considerably higher per dog. We also have to pay to feed your dog while it is in foster care, as well as pay for gas to pick up the surrender, take it to appointments, etc. We believe that our owner surrender fee is a small price to pay for piece-of-mind, knowing that your dog will be fostered in a loving home until it finds its perfect forever home.