Forging The Chain

I ended my last post by saying that there are a number of people involved in the rescue of a pet shared on Facebook, and each person forges one link in the chain which will eventually turn an ‘unwanted’ pet into a ‘wanted’ one.  I wrote that, as a fairly new internet rescuer, I am sometimes frustrated by the fact that other rescuers assume more knowledge on my part than I actually have.

That’s not exactly the right way to explain it.  It’s more that I’m afraid I’ll make a mistake, in a business where a mistake might mean something very bad, and the more experienced rescuer might have no idea that I’m in danger of making that mistake, because she’s known that thing, whatever it is I don’t know, for so long that she’s now taking it for granted. 

(I’m making an executive decision to start referring to rescuers as ‘she’, since a very large percentage of people involved in pet rescue are female, for a reason I hope someday to understand.)

Just tonight, I found I had to play the other part in a rescue drama, the role of the experienced rescuer, and I instantly had much greater empathy for those rescuers who can now take their knowledge of the process for granted.

Because tonight, another of my friends wants to rescue a dog through the ‘Facebook method’, and this friend knows so little about how it works that I have to try to go back in time and ‘unremember’ what I know, so that I can explain the process to her clearly.  And I’ve only recently learned it, myself.  I’m afraid of making a mistake.

I had lunch with this friend and a third friend of ours today, a lunch which went right up to dinner time.  The three of us have been working, for the last year or so, on a pretty big pet rescue benefit project, and part of the reason for our lunch was to discuss our next step.  The last thing we did before finishing was to cluster around a computer, so that I could show them how the Facebook rescue process works.  I chose a particular dog to use as an example; not, I confess, without an ulterior motive.  I knew that my friend had been thinking of adopting a dog, and I’d seen one who resembled a beloved dog from her past, and who seemed like he might be an excellent match for her now.  Here’s his picture:

Renard, coming soon to an artist's studio near me?

Sure enough, she’s interested, and tonight I’m trying to help her navigate through the Facebook rescue waters.  In the interests of clarifying the process for myself and explaining it to you, here are the links which need to be forged in order to make a rescue chain:

A shelter worker–a paid employee, or, more commonly, a volunteer–needs to be set up, in the first place, to share pets on the internet, through Facebook or Petfinder, or, for all I know, some other site (from now on I’ll focus on dogs on Facebook).

This person, or a second person working with her, ‘posts’ the dog on Facebook–shares the dog’s picture; vet exam results, if any; temperament test results, if any; and all other information available.

Now, with any luck, a whole group of ‘crossposters’, online contacts of the original ‘poster’, will jump into action.  They’ll use the Facebook tools available to them to share the dog’s picture and information, networking the dog to a much wider audience of potential adopters than was possible pre-internet.

At this point, several things may happen.  A private individual may see the dog and, writing on the dog’s ‘thread’, express an interest in adopting it.  This is what happened with Grace and me.  Almost as soon as I wrote in, offers of help came flooding into the thread.  Back to this in a second…

A specific breed rescuer might see a dog of her ‘specialty’ and decide to take care of its rescue.  Breed rescues, even if small, seem to be well connected, in terms of foster families for their dogs.

An all-breed rescue group director might decide to save the dog, if she thinks she’ll be able to find a foster home for the dog.  Or a member of that same rescue group might offer to foster the dog, if her director were willing to save it–either way.

And, of course, someone at the shelter could decide to save the dog.  Are there other options I haven’t thought of? 

Once someone has ‘made a commitment’ to the dog–and that is the phrase used; you’ll read, ‘we need a commitment on this dog by Friday’–a ‘puller’ is usually needed.  If the person who has made the commitment to foster or adopt the dog is a private individual, he or she will often need to ask the head of an official non-profit rescue group which is located in the shelter’s geographical area to function as the intermediary between him or her and the shelter.  Usually this non-profit will have an existing relationship with the shelter.  The head of the non-profit will take an application from the individual (online or otherwise); review it, check the references provided, and accept it (or, of course, decline it, but we’ll say, ‘accept’ in order to go forward); do a home visit or agree to waive it, for geographical reasons; and will then fill out the shelter’s required paperwork on behalf of the individual.  In some cases, this person will also take the pet physically from the building, at that point.

At some shelters, the next step is to collect some fees from the adopter and have the pet vetted–exam, required shots, and spay or neuter.  This is a very nice thing, because it provides protection for the pet right away, and makes the next step safer.  In certain cases, the next step is boarding, if there will be some lag time before transport is available.  The boarder can be a veterinarian, or a foster family, or someone whose ‘specialty’ is pre-transport boarding (for instance, the kind woman who took care of my Audrey until her ‘ride’ picked her up and drove her the first leg of her journey here).

Whether or not the pet has been vetted or boarded, the next step is transport.  The director of the non-profit may have helped with finding a transporter (which is what happened in Grace’s case, and wow, was I grateful).  Generally, on a Facebook rescue, there will be people who offer advice and suggestions for possible drivers in their geographical area.  This is what is happening tonight, for Renard.  I’m sure that, even as I write this, offers of help are being added to his thread.  I’ve already learned that a transporter will be driving from North Carolina, where Renard is now, to New York State, where my friend and I live, six days from now.  I’ve written to ask whether there’s enough time to get Renard vetted by then, and, most importantly, to see if there’s someone who can check him for cat compatibility.

How many people is that so far, even just including the ones who are absolutely necessary, leaving out people like vets, fosterers, and boarders, since those steps don’t always happen?  There are the poster; the crossposter; the interested adopter; the small rescue intermediary (most times); and the transporter.

No wonder my friend’s head is spinning.  I explained as well as I could, and suggested that I monitor Renard’s thread for her tonight and tomorrow morning and see how things develop, taking one step at a time.

I’m very tired, and have probably forgotten important things here.  I’ll be checking this entry as I check on Renard, and I’ll try to ‘clean it up’ tomorrow morning.  I’m crossing my fingers that fate allows a chain to be forged between my friend and Renard.

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One Response to Forging The Chain

  1. Maureen says:

    The only other thing I can think to add is that some shelters (I know this is the case in NYC) only have certain rescues they will let “pull” from them. Usually, on facebook, people more experienced in this also monitor the pages and may offer to put you in contact with someone from one of those rescues. This is important to know because I didn’t know it and was too late in contacting rescues for Midnight. I wouldn’t count on it, you need to call yourself, but I know without Liz Tucci seeing my posts on Midnight’s page and asking me if I could take Clarisse (whose foster had backed out), I would not have her laying next to me right now.
    Yay for Renard! He is a little fox…just beautiful and lucky to have so many wonderful people on his side, working to save him. The process can be a bit mind boggling at times but we all find our link in the chain to make it happen for these deserving dogs. Contribute what you can, then find more links to add to the chain as Ingrid did with me. She wasn’t even looking that day and had no idea (I’m sure) the effect she had on me when she left the park, but she watered a seed that had been planted in me a long time ago.

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