When we first bought our house seven years ago, the first thing I wanted to do was get an English Bulldog, it had been a dream of ours since an early age. Our first choice was to go to a rescue and rescue a pup. Unfortunately at the time, there were no rescues in our state, Wisconsin, or any rescues that would allow us to adopt from out of state. So, we turned to getting a puppy from a breeder... one that was supposed to be good, had excellent references, and had health guarantees. We did our homework and knew the costs and everything involved. Well, we bought a beautiful pup (with show bloodlines) that in the end became a very physically broken boy (major spine surgeries, crutiate ligament surgeries, bladder stones, nerve problems..............).

After his first spine surgery (about 3 years ago), I was out on Craigslist looking for something and ended up seeing an ad for a 12 year old, blind and deaf rescue that was looking for a home from a rescue in a different state. His story really touched us, he had lived outside in Missouri his whole life with no care, and after all these years he was thrown away because he was old. Well, we applied to adopt and within a week or 2 we were approved to adopt. I think the whole process went very smooth and never had any issues.

That event and ending up with a disabled puppy started my whole associations with rescues. Over the past 3 years, I have been involved with over 10 rescues (not all breed specific). Of all of these rescues that we have been involved with, I have been approved to adopt from 5..... All of them out of the state I live in. This has brought 5 wonderful bullies (12 year old male, 7 year old female, 6 year old female, 5 year old male, and 4 year old female) into my life over the last 3 years (from 2 separate rescues).

About a year ago, during the process of being approve to adopt through one of the 5, we were approached by the rescue to become volunteers. I have to say that we were honored to be asked, because the rescue was a genuine non-profit (501c3) and very respected in the rescue community. So we joined them and the rest is history.

True Non-Profit rescues do not usually get in puppies, juveniles, or even healthy pups.... They get in medically damaged pups that people cannot afford, mentally/physically abused pups and the elderly. If they do get in healthy puppies, it is very rare (we had a foster that was 8 months old that was healthy). Non-profit rescues do not go to mill auctions to buy dogs (price goes up per demand of dog: rescues bidding against breeders = mill profits = what rescues are trying to prevent), and I believe it is against BCARN's rules to participate in these activities. So the pups that the rescue gets in are generally pretty sick, there is usually a pretty steep vet bill associated with each of them. This cost is never really covered by the adoption fees (I really hate when people complain about the adoption fee - we had a 2 year old foster that had an adoption fee of $500, but his vetting cost was over $6,000 to get him well).

I am involved in all aspects of the rescue, which means I do intakes, phone interviews, home visits, vet/landlord/reference verifications, and review adoption applications…. you name it I do it. That being said, about 95% of the applications that I see, the people are looking for a puppy to 1 years old (I guess there must be a warehouse of pups just waiting). During a lot of phone interviews I have done, they talk about understanding the cost involved, and hence why they are coming to rescue for a CHEAP bulldog (I have heard this many times). I am not saying that this is how all people are, but generally this what I have experienced.

So why do rescues have location limits and why can’t I adopt from anywhere… I have bulldog experience, these are questions that I use to have also. Let me tell you about a home visit, that I went on. It was a 4 hour trip one way to get to an applicant, who had excellent references and had adopted from another rescue before (had 2 pups presently, one from a different rescue). When we got there, honestly the house looked like something out of a horror flick; broken windows, boarded up windows, 3 semi-trailers sunk in backyard (probable meth lab), no door knobs on door, huge hole in door, and garage leaning/falling down. The inside was really no better; Asbestos tile throughout house (chipped/chunks laying everywhere), disgusting dirty kitchen and bathroom (cockroaches/fruit flies), old nasty furniture and stained carpet everywhere, and holes in walls everywhere. Their 2 present dogs were in horrible condition also, both had missing hair (the whole back), allergy problems (they feed Purina because of their vet — had no idea what grain free food was), stained/matted and dirty fur, and their rescue also had non-treated ACL/hip problems and could barely walk (they said it was too expensive for surgery).

This person was respected and highly recommended from a different rescue and all of their other references. Did the other rescue ever do a home visit or ever check up on their pup after adoption…probably not. The house did not just get that way, it was very evident. Why didn’t they clean up or try to do something about the issues…. We made sure everything was spotless when we had all of our home inspections. Needless to say, they were nice people but we had to deny them, because we did not think it would be a healthy environment to put one of the rescue’s pups in. They did not understand, because the other rescue allowed them and they had all this experience… it was an eye opening experience.

Why can’t I adopt if I have a child under 10, my kids are great with dogs. That was a question I also wondered. Rescues usually have insurance policies and this usually is a major stipulation put on the policy, at least it is with the one I am involved with. After everything that these pups go through, there is no way that the rescue can guarantee that the pup won’t have an issue, hence that is why they have insurance. We did an intake and foster of a pup from a really bad area (known for dog fighting), which was great with us and all of our pups the first 2 days. After he became comfortable with his surroundings, he started attacking things. First the cage that he loved going in, the vacuum cleaner (just sitting there) which he had no issues with for weeks, and then finally my wife (out of the blue). He was moved to a different foster, who is a behaviorist (handled a lot of tough dogs in the past), and things got a lot worse from there. They determined that he was a bait dog used for dog fighting (scars and other things pointed to it) and unfortunately he could not be turned around.

So in the end, I hope that you stick with trying to find a rescue if your heart is really in it. I can’t speak for the rescues in your area, but I know that most I have been involved with have been excellent and very responsive (except a few non-breed in my state). To me, rescue has been one of the most worthwhile and life changing things I have ever done. There are a lot of downs/heartbreaks, like picking up a true Amish mill girl that ended up having pyometra and Spina Bifada from a person that saved her from be culled over this last weekend and a lot of ups, like helping a boy that had a 99.99% chance of losing both eyes….. keep both of them and get adopted to a wonderful forever family.