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Sunday, November 1, 2015

Adopter Beware by Jacki Skole

It's my pleasure to welcome Jacki Skole, author of Dogland: A Journey to the Heart of America’s Dog Problem, back to WOA. We would all like to think that anyone calling herself an animal rescuer is a good and honest person, but as in all areas of life, that isn't always the case. Jacki offers some tips to help you assess rescuers and rescue programs before you support them with your money.  ~ Sheila Boneham (author of Rescue Matters: How to Find, Foster, and Rehome Companion Animals). 

Many of us have seen them on the weekends—puppies and dogs up for adoption in local pet stores. Some of us have even adopted one of these homeless pups. Most of the time, it’s a rescue group, not the retailer, running the show. And most of the time, the rescue is working in the best interest of its animals. But as I learned while reporting DOGLAND, there are some so-called rescues that are simply turning dogs for dollars.
“Rescue has become part of the pet trade,” according to Libby Williams, who runs Pet Watch New Jersey, a non-profit that seeks to educate people about shady rescues and puppy mills. “There is a lot of selling going on for profit, and a lot of so-called rescues preying on the emotions of adopters.” The result: Dogs that have not been vetted or behavior tested are being adopted out, situations that can be both deadly and dangerous.
How can you determine if you’re dealing with a rogue rescue? Here are seven warning signs:
  • Payment is cash-only. The rescue won’t take your check or credit card.
  • There are a high volume of puppies for adoption. These “rescues,” also known as puppy-flippers, sometimes get their puppies from puppy mills and then advertise them as shelter dogs. 
  • Dogs lack health records, and if a dog has crossed state lines, there’s no inter-state health certificate. A rescue should be able to provide you with the names of the veterinarians who treat its dogs.
  • The rescue won’t guarantee a dog’s health for even 48-72 hours.
  • The rescue won’t take back a dog if the adoption doesn’t work out.
  • The rescue’s website and/or Facebook page doesn’t include the names of the people associated with the rescue or any means to contact the rescue, such as a phone number or email address.
  • The rescue doesn’t interview you. Just as you want to ensure the rescue is reputable, the rescue should want to make sure it’s turning over its dogs to the best home possible. Thus, reputable rescues screen applicants, require references, and whenever possible, do home checks.

Bottom line: Ask questions! A legitimate rescue will have the answers to your questions and will be happy to provide them. If you believe you are dealing with a rogue rescue, contact your local SPCA or police department.
Finally, if you find a rescue you really like, support it! Chances are, that rescue is run by a bunch of volunteers with full-time jobs who simply love dogs and who are driven to save lives. What’s more, it’s likely that the rescue is funded entirely by donations and by its members dipping into their own pocketbooks to keep the rescue solvent.

Jacki Skole is an award-winning journalist and adjunct professor of communication. She launched her journalism career at CNN, first as a news writer, then as a producer in the network’s documentary unit; she’s also produced programs for Animal Planet and HGTV.
Jacki lives in New Jersey with her husband and three daughters—two human, one canine. It is Galen, Jacki’s canine daughter, who inspired the journey that resulted in DOGLAND
Helpful Links:
Website: www.jackiskole.com
DOGLAND on Amazon
Twitter @JackiSkole
Facebook fan page


  1. I enjoyed your book and recommended it to local rescue advocates. Will you also write about issues that affect the western part of the country?

    1. Thank you for reading and recommending DOGLAND, Amber. I'd love to look into whether there are issues specific to the western U.S. Perhaps, one day... In the meantime, I think many of the issues--and solutions-- in DOGLAND are universal, so I hope the book will resonate with readers no matter where they live.