Prologue: Rescue is not easy—and it is worth the effort
To a rescuer, the expectations of rescue are just a normal part of life. (When I applied to adopt my first rescued Ibizan (RIP Sioraf), I offered information, photos, et cetera, that were not even requested of me. I would have provided whatever else was requested, save an SSN.) Those who argue that they could buy a dog to avoid the screening and rules of guardianship miss the point. The rescued dog an applicant desires is a beloved part of our family. When you apply to a rescue, you are asking a group of volunteers and donors to trust you with an animal who trusts some of those people, an animal to whom those people have given their heart, soul, money, and a huge chunk of their lives. We want these dogs to receive that same level of devotion from their new homes and guardians. If a person finds even the application process too much trouble, that may cause us to wonder how much trouble s/he will find one of our dogs. When it comes to homing, our job is to ensure our dogs land in safe, happy homes with kind, responsible, conscientious people who view their relationship with us not as a chore, but as an opportunity to learn and to ensure the best possible lives for the dogs.
Things to Know before Applying
If you are fiercely rescue-oriented, becoming one of the select few Sighthound Sanctuary dog guardians might be for you. People join our relatively small group not simply for the cause, but because they want to support a rescue that truly walks the talk. When we consider an applicant, we are hoping to find a person like us: Someone excited to support work that not only rescues, rehabs, and homes needy sighthounds, but moreover, protects and elevates the lives of these animals. When you work with Sighthound Sanctuary, the dog we've rescued and prepared to join you is a dog we help you ensure becomes happier day by day and stays that way throughout her/his life. This is the Sighthound Sanctuary difference.
If you are rescue-minded, you already understand the importance of carefully screening applicants; before we entrust a life to someone's care, that someone partners with us in the screening process. You might or might not be familiar with affiliation practices--guardians keeping in regular contact with the rescue, partnering with the rescue to ensure each dog's well-being throughout her/his lifetime; this practice is one of the things that makes Sighthound Sanctuary special. Experience here has taught us a great lesson: *Ego must step aside for the sake of the dog--before, during, and after placement. Sighthound Sanctuary's umbrella of policies offers lifelong protection for our dogs, and the dogs always come first. If you wish to be part of an animal-protective cause, you'll be excited about our special efforts in this regard, and we'll be equally excited to welcome you!
Sighthounds are special dogs with unique abilities. Therefore, there are key requirements for their protection:
- A private, securely fenced yard around at least part of any home or place where the dog spends time is required.
- In almost all cases, all fences must be at least six foot high solid fencing all the way around, no climb, no dig, with gates locked from the inside.
- No dog doors for SSAS dogs. No off leashing outside areas enclosed by secure 6 foot fencing.
- It is our policy to avoid placing a dog in an environment where children will be present.
- We do not place dogs in homes where they will have access to dangerous situations such as second story untempered glass, or open windows to unfenced areas.
- These are just some of the requirements. Please email us to discuss your particular situation. To ensure a response, please be sure to include your location (we only do west coast placements); to expedite answers to your questions, please include photos of your yard & fencing as well.
Sighthound Sanctuary's policies are designed to ensure the dogs' lifelong well-being as the top priority; e.g.:
- We place dogs only in areas within a reasonable driving distance (about 4 or so hours maximum) of the sanctuary or one of our permanent rescue partners or volunteers so that the dogs and guardians always have us nearby if they need us. Currently we have established back-ups in Northern California, the central California coast, Washington state, and near our Oregon sanctuary location.
- Guardians must be mature and stable; e.g., student and roommate situations may by nature be too in-flux to be approved.
- Guardians must be willing and able to follow Sighthound Sanctuary rules of placement and guidelines for care, safety, handling, and contact/affiliation throughout the natural life of the dog. These are stipulated in a detailed contract that the guardian signs.
A trusted, lifelong guardian understands and respects that when we place one of our dogs, we are not agreeing to lose a member of our family; we are agreeing to add a member, by entrusting that person to be that dog's 'forever' guardian.
An upsetting statistic making the rounds in rescue is that only 1 in 10 dogs born in the USA will find a forever home. How is that possible? It's simple. Most dogs are surrendered (or worse) by their owners at least once during their lives. Sadly, it is rare that a dog is born, adopted, and lives her entire natural life with the person who originally adopted her. Example: My 13 year old rescued, puredbred Ibizan hound was sold by a breeder as puppy, but his original owner at some point passed him off to a family member, who eventually passed him again to someone else, who did the same, and so on and so on, until one day he found himself on the east coast, wandering around in the streets, chasing cars and barking, being threatened with death and shot at by neighbors. This kind of situation is one example of why Sighthound Sanctuary is so careful with placements. We want to ensure that when we place a dog, that dog will not be passed off or mishandled again. If some fluke of nature should ever transpire, we want to have ensured that the guardian will have remained in regular contact with us as an SSAS family member and thus we will be right there, ready to welcome the dog back into our fold. While our goal is for every Sighthound Sanctuary dog to be a safe, well, and happy permanently-placed dog, nevertheless, a Sighthound Sanctuary dog will always have his/her home with us to return to if anything goes wrong with the placement, since our first priority is always the welfare of each dog.
Steps to Placement:
Usually, the steps are application, personal interview/s, home check and reference checks, any necessary follow up discussions and/or meetings, then if you are approved, execution of a detailed, rigorous contract, payment of a minimum expense reimbursement, and the dog joining you. (Often, more than one pre-placement visit will occur before the big move.)
Meeting the Dogs:
To avoid broken hearts of applicants, unnecessary stress on dogs, and needless overwork for us, meetings with the dogs come only after you have been fully approved; if no match seems made during these meetings, your approved application may remain active with us as appropriate. If we were to set meetings with everyone who asked, without having first processed an application on them to ensure they were serious, we could easily spend most of our time just managing visits, leaving little time to care for the dogs and other rescue and sanctuary work.
Cost and What it Includes:
Each dog comes with a 24 hour ID collar, microchip, vaccinations, and sterilization. Most also have received at least basic skills and/or behavioral training by us in preparation for homing; unless impossible, we teach you how to continue that. It is your responsibility to continue it and ask us for help whenever there is a problem. For dogs we rescued locally, the minimum expense reimbursement is usually $250 to $300 unless there were unusual rescue/ care/ treatment costs. For international rescue cases, the minimum** expense reimbursement will be somewhat higher, generally around $500. Since this amount is just a fraction of what it costs us to bring these innocents to safety, and to rehab and train, feed, house, and care for them until homed (costs can range from $3000 to $8000 each, or more depending on circumstances and length of stay), if you have the means to reimburse for more of the dog’s expenses, please make an additional donation. Please understand that we spend at least several thousand dollars on each rescue, plus rehab, care, enrichment, and training expenses until homed, which can bring the total much higher considering length of stay and needs of the particular dog.
A $50 donation, to be applied to your minimum expense reimbursement if you are approved and a placement is completed with us at that time, is to be included with your application or at the latest before your home visit; it is to help fund our time to process your application and is non-refundable. If after going through the screening process with us you are not able to complete a placement at that time for some reason other than our non-approval, we may elect to keep your application on file for a later date. If you have any questions or concerns about this policy please feel free to email us before applying. It is not our intention to convince those who have no chance of being approved to apply; therefore, we try to answer any questions via email before applications to help ascertain your qualifications. We take our responsibilities regarding dog placements seriously so are very cautious during this process; by applying with us you understand and agree that there is a fair chance you will not be approved even though you have submitted $50 and an application, answered all questions, allowed home and reference checks, etc. We realize this may seem daunting, but the fact is that we are first and foremost a rescue and protection charity--it is our job to make the best decision for each dog, and to help you make the best decision as well. We believe that if you have come this far, you care about animals just as we do, so we trust you to understand this.
Choosing the Right Dog:
We aim to have our dogs with us for a good while before placing them. This allows us to get to know each dog’s personality and behavioral tendencies, which helps clarify their needs and increases the likelihood of a good match with an applicant. We do not currently have tiny dogs, so our dogs usually have not been tiny dog tested. We will cat test when possible (indoor cats only), but applicants must understand that while many of our dogs have been fine with cats, there is never a guarantee, and therefore guardians must always take precautions. We will help with this.
Welcoming the Dog:
Often, it will be in the best interest of the dog and you for you to meet and spend some time with her/him one or more times before the dog leaves the sanctuary and makes the big move to you.
The Principle behind the Policies:
Our job is to save and protect dogs; this is the reason underlying all of our policies. To bring home one of these tender dogs who has been through too much to ever have to tolerate any further difficulties, one must be prepared to make adjustments and steadfast commitments for them just as for any new family member. In return, you get not only affection and loyalty like none other, but you get to be part of the story of a saved life, and you help save other lives as well, since every dog for whom you open your home makes room for another to be saved from abandonment or torture. We know of no better deal.
We are always here to help you prepare for and work with the dog, and whenever you need assistance or advice; additionally, if ever you can no longer properly care for or keep the Sighthound Sanctuary dog, you return the dog to us and we ensure that s/he is properly cared for. This is part of your Sighthound Sanctuary contract.