Wednesday, June 29, 2016

How Much Information Does Your Vet Need to Give a Rescue?

As you may have guessed we spent a considerable amount of time with our Vet over the last few months. We'd also consulted with her regarding our quest for our next rescue and was surprised to discover that some Vets are becoming increasingly concerned with the amount of information rescues are requesting from Vets about their patients and their owners. For our Vet it is starting to cross the privacy lines. Based on her comments I also think that it is also starting to take valuable time away from the patients that need her.

When I've filled out forms in the past that request my Vet information for rescue adoption, my feeling was that rescues wanted confirmation that my dogs were receiving regular checkups, medications, and adequate care. However, during our last rescue attempt I felt there was far more pressure to conform to personal beliefs about care, not just suggestions. The person pushing those beliefs was not a Vet, but felt very strongly that her beliefs were equal to those of my Vet's and I had a problem with that because I do think medical training counts for something. My conversation with the Vet confirmed she too is experiencing this and it is not siting well.

I don't think she or any other Vet objects to providing confirmation that a rescue dog will be going into a home that provides regular vet care. From a humane and let's be honest business perspective this is just common sense. Vets care about dogs and don't want them neglected. It's hard to keep a Vet practice running if people aren't seeking regular Vet care for their pets.

The problem seems to be the level of information rescues want and how they seek this information. It isn't enough to know that the dogs are receiving care, but what choices are the owners making and do those conform to the philosophy of care the shelter promotes. That is a very ugly place to put a Vet.

We all have choices to make about our dogs' health. Many of us make different choices. As long as those choices don't constitute abuse or neglect those decisions should be ours to make. Just because we chose to rescue a dog instead of using a breeder shouldn't mean we lose our freedom to make medical decisions for the dogs we adopt.

There are a range of controversies regarding dog health today. It is difficult for pet parents to negotiate through those waters and I rely on my Vet to help me work through the constantly changing research, opinions, and fads to chart a course for our dogs. The fact Bailey made it 13 years I think is a sign she's steered us well. I don't want to be second guessed and judged by people reviewing an application who have different views on dog health than I do. I wouldn't tell them not to pursue their path with their animals. I'm merely asking for the same respect regarding my animals. Since I can provide proof my animals are receiving regular medical care, medications, and all Vet, State, and local requested treatments I don't feel the fact we have different treatment philosophies should matter.

The second issue is the way the information is requested. I have a great deal of respect for the volunteers who work with the shelter system. It is a tough unpaid job. Those who have the additional task of reviewing applications, checking references, and Vet calls have additional burdens. However, the Vet checks put an undue burden on the Vets that could be simplified with a little thought.

Most of us have had the experience of a sick dog and had to make a call to the Vet to get help. Our Vet is a single practitioner so for her to answer calls it interrupts the patients she is seeing during the day. She willingly does what she can for emergencies and calls back those who can wait. However, shelter volunteers are also placing calls to Vets during office hours and they often want a response then. It's understandable, they are volunteers and have limited time to give to the cause. The animals are waiting for placement. However, what if there was another way?

How about having a basic checklist of important information that a Vet needs to verify that can be downloaded from your website or given to potential adopters that their Vet fills out and either emails, faxes, or mails back to the shelter? If there are any specific concerns raised from the form, the shelter than would reduce the number of calls needing to be made. This actually reduces the time the volunteers have to make calls and the time Vets are pulled from the work they need to do. Most of the relevant information is in the current animals charts and could be tasked to a clerk just requiring the Vet to sign and add any additional info that might not be in the chart. This is a win/win for all parties concerned.

However, BASIC is the key. The questions should be based on animals receiving adequate care, not on personal preferences. Preventing animals from going into an abusive or neglectful home is essential. A shelter volunteers personal dislike of a medicine or preventative shouldn't be a matter of discussion when it comes to finding a qualified home for a homeless dog. Additionally, valid medical choices people make that differ from those a volunteer might make for their own dog shouldn't disqualify someone from adopting.

It is time we make choices based on the best interests of dogs, not personal philosophies of how dogs should be raised, fed, or medically treated. There are far too many homeless dogs to be rejecting people because they make valid decisions that differ from those who have the power to choose homes for those dogs. The focus needs to be on screening for applicants who have a history of abuse, neglect, or demonstrate an inability to care for an animal. We may not always agree on specifics, but as long as we aren't drifting into abuse or neglect we need to be a bit more open minded.

I am some what eclectic when it comes to my dog family. Medically in most ways we are probably more traditional when it comes to medical care. However, both dogs experienced chiro and recently massage as ways of improving their health. That comes from listening and deciding what we feel is in the best interests of our dogs. We try to find the path that will provide them with a high quality of life for as long as possible.

I can respect those feel their dogs need a different path to have that same quality of life option. While I don't always agree with the choices, I've found it interesting to read about the paths others take medically and when you are open to listening you can learn. I think that attitude is even more important in rescue. Rescues may not have the same philosophy as those who apply to rescue, however it is important to be open minded and listen. Not everyone who is different is dangerous. The right person may make different choices, but those may be the right choices for that dog.


  1. Im in total agreement. When dealing with reputable breeders they always called my vet and whre happy to know we were regular attendees who treated our dogs well and cared for them excellently. Both Fry and Tuvoks breeder said we must be doing the right thing as our last dogs had made it to 12 and 1/2 and 14. However, our rescue experience one time was very different. We fostered and then adopted a senior high needs pug 14 at least who had cancer and was incontinent and needed a wheel chair cart due to spine issues. He lived with us for 2 years. The situation was a bit strange because we took the dog in on an emergency basis through an acquainteance and we never went through a formal interview with the group. Two years later Bingo went into liver failure and was in a great deal of pain our vet recommended euthanasia and we agreed. After all he had lived two years when originally it was thought 6 months was the outside. The rescue head told us she would not have euthanized Bingo, our dog, but would have continued to force feed him fluids and soft food with a tube until he passed naturally. Im not saying thats typical of rescue groups but I was very upset. Needless to say we wont work with that rescue again

    1. These are the kinds of stories that make me CRAZY!! Even without cancer the dog lived to 16, that is an amazing feet that shows dedication and love.

      However, it clearly is becoming more of a trend. I have been researching sites looking for a companion for Katy. I a beautiful dog at an all breed rescue that seemed like it would consider out of state applicants. I was annoyed by the food question and almost lost it when it came to the have you ever euthanized a dog. If so why? I can't imagine the people they deal with if this is a real problem for them. Letting Bailey go was one of the hardest choices I'd ever had to made. However, I have no doubts it was the right one. Anyone that thinks I have to jump through hoops to prove it was the right choice is not someone I want to work with regarding rescue.

  2. I feel as though everyone feels they are an "expert"these days, and their way is the only way.

    Yes, we want animals to go to good homes, but the process shouldn't be so difficult and judgemental that people are steered away from rescuing.

  3. We too agree with this. Several years ago I directed someone to a pug rescue. He would have made a great pug owner. But he was so put off by all the requirements from the rescue he decided not to adopt. A real shame.

    1. We had a friend end up going to a breeder as well after being pushed around by a breed rescue. It's a shame because he's had two great dogs from breeders. They lost out.

  4. Thank you for your words of comfort about our loss of both Cookie and Moe. In time our hearts will heal and we will remember the good times.

    Nina, Mindy, Mike

  5. This was important and incredibly well-written. I was always under the assumption that the rescues just call the Vet for the "basic" info that you wrote about, i never knew they delve deeper. I agree with you it should just be basic info that the animal is getting proper/regular Vet care. I also agree with you, that the Vet shouldn't be bothered with phone calls, a fax or download would do the trick! DakotasDen

  6. Wow, I also thought the rescues just call the vet to make sure you bring your dog in. That's over the top if they are asking for more than that. I know most rescues are trying to do the best they can, but sometimes they go too far looking for the "perfect" home. Great post.

    1. That's why I wanted to start this discussion. I really had no idea until we started this third rescue attempt.

      I also recognize the challenge for rescues and do think there are MANY ways that we can lessen the burdens of placing dogs, by thinking through the methods of acquiring the information they need to make a good placement. Some of that can be done by utilizing technology, some by understanding what is vital to a healthy placement and what is personal preference.


I enjoy reading your comments and try to respond back on your blogs.
I am sorry I cannot comment on blogs which require Google + or Facebook to comment. I am not a member and have no plans to join.