Friday, April 1, 2016

A-Z of #Dog Rescue: Assessment — #atozchallenge

Every situation—every dog—is different. No two rescues are the same. That’s why assessment is so very, very important before you jump in.

But assess what, exactly? And how?




It's about two things: history (what kind of rescue it'll be), and health (how urgent the rescue is).

— HISTORY —

There are four ways a dog ends up on the street: s/he was born there (feral), s/he was abandoned, s/he got lost, or s/he ran away.

Street-born vs. Abandoned or Lost
Feral dogs have a very different attitude to humans than those who’ve had families. Chances are an abandoned or lost dog will be easier to approach; they’re used to humans being a source of security, and they’ll probably trust you pretty fast. For a street-born, on the other hand, humans are another danger to avoid, like fast-moving cars or fireworks. They’ve seen a lot more abuse, so they’ll be wary if not outright scared. (And a fearful dog does not make for an easy rescue.)

Runaways
Dogs purposefully leave behind the safety of a home, even a bad one, for only one reason: survival. A runaway dog is one who’s been abused to the point where his/her survival instinct kicked in and told him/her to flee. For obvious reasons, these dogs are often as distrusting of humans as a feral dog (if not more). 

What to look for
Lost
Collar, tag, recently brushed coat, cleanliness, clipped nails; signs that a human somewhere cares. Often look disoriented and distressed. Usually easy to approach. Might be neutered/spayed (easy to see in males).

Abandoned / runaways
Any signs of human involvement won’t be recent: coat beginning to look matted, chipped or torn nails, an old collar, or a mark on the coat where a collar used to be. Extremely skinny, or signs of recent massive weight loss: loose skin, head looks disproportionately large (home-raised dogs without street smarts won’t find food easily). Visible skin issues, growths or lumps; disease is one of the main reasons dogs are abandoned or neglected. Often look disoriented and distressed. Abandoned dogs will be easier to approach; runaways might be more wary. Might be neutered/spayed (easy to see in males).

Street-born dogs
Thin but rarely skeletal. They’re survivors, they're strong and smart. Lots of ticks and/or fleas. Usually visible skin conditions (bald, scaly, or scabbed patches, or near-total hair loss). Usually seem self-assured, like they know where they’re going. Will probably show distress / wariness when approached. They’ll back away, or growl, snap, or bark a warning. Probably won't be neutered/spayed.


— HEALTH —

What to look for
  • How badly malnourished is s/he? 
  • Does s/he have visible skin issues?
  • Watery eyes and/or nose? Nervous “tics”, trouble walking? (signs of canine distemper)
  • Does s/he eat well? Any vomit and/or diarrhea? (signs of parvovirus and/or intestinal infections/parasites)
  • Is the dog visibly disabled or hurt? (limping, open wounds, impaired vision/hearing, etc.)
  • If the dog is female, do her teats look elongated and swollen? (She might be suckling, and you’ll want to rescue the puppies, too.)
  • For female dogs, check for an enlarged vulva; if she's in heat, rescue urgency increases.
~ * ~

Now you have all the information you need to plan your approach—which we’ll get into tomorrow (because, in rescue, B is for Botched). 



Thanks for coming by; I hope you found this informative and entertaining. As a disclaimer, let me say I’m not an expert, and the only thing that “qualifies” me to talk about dog rescue is that, in a lifetime of doing it, I’ve botched more than my share. That’s the learning I’d like to pass on to those interested in rescue or getting involved in it for the first time. And, if you have your own rescue experiences or advice, I’d love it if you shared them. A fresh point of view is always welcome.


51 comments :

  1. All those years of rescuing dogs definitely qualifies you for "expert" status, Guilie. Good to know what to look for. I wasn't familiar with the signs of distemper.

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    1. Distemper is a nasty, nasty disease, Debbie... When we pick up a rescue, distemper is the most dreaded diagnosis, because most of the time it means the dog needs to be put down. And it's still an improvement, because leaving them to die of it alone is a horrible way for them to go. So sad :(

      Thanks for coming by—and for the vote of confidence ;)

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  2. Thanks, Guilie. This is an important series you're running; one I shall follow very closely (with you-know-who's wife looking over my shoulder, no doubt).
    Keith Channing at Keith Kreates

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    1. Hahahaha... Looking forward to it, Keith! And to your feedback :)

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  3. Hi Guilie! Very glad to have found your blog through Damyanti and the A to Z Challenge. You make some important points. I've been big on rescuing dogs off the street - India has so many strays of indigenous descent - they're hardy and friendly - but sometimes need to be taken into homes. Good luck with the challenge.
    Kalpanaa on twitter
    From
    Kalpanaawrites
    Kalpanaawrites on Facebook
    Kalpanapster on Instagram

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    1. How wonderful to get a visit from a fellow rescuer, Kalpanaa—and kudos to you for helping homeless dogs. You make a great point: most strays, especially if they're street-born, will be hardy and friendly, and can often lead good enough lives in the street. It's less than ideal, but until the world decides to a) stop breeding and b) start adopting the dogs who are already here, there simply aren't enough homes to go around.

      Thank you so, so much for coming by! Off to check out your own challenge :)

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  4. So informative, great post and looking forward to reading more about your lifetime of experiences.

    Mars xx
    @TrollbeadBlog from
    Curling Stones for Lego People

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    1. Thank you, Mars! I'm glad you enjoyed this :)

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  5. This is so educational.
    When it comes to animal rescue issues, I'm so in-the-dark.
    Writer In Transit

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    1. I'm glad to share what I know, Michelle... you're not the only one in the dark :) Thanks for coming by!

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  6. as for me, once bitten twice shy

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  7. This is such a wonderful theme. Thanks for the informative post. I look forward to reading what else you come up with for the month.

    Urszula Humienik from
    urszulahumienik.com

    Twitter
    Facebook

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    1. Thank you so much, Ula—and so wonderful to see you back here! Just went over to your place for a visit, and was properly wowed by your piece... What a punch you pack, and only in four lines! Kudos, and looking forward to the rest of your A2Z posts :)

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  8. Wonderful! A great theme and fantastic info! ♥

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    1. Thanks so much, Natalie! And thanks also for the Twitter shares... really means the world :)

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  9. As a fellow dog lover, I totally agree with the points in this post :) Love this theme... as the Terminator would say "I'll be back"

    My entry for the #AtoZChallenge -
    Tv Shows: A - Agents of SHIELD

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    1. Thanks so much, Roshan! I'll be looking forward to seeing your name in the comments again :)

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  10. Very informative post. A must read for all pet lovers and rescuers. Love your theme.

    Visiting from A to Z Challenge
    Pam's Unconventional Alliance Team
    A Whimsical Medley
    Twinkle Eyed Traveller

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  11. I agree a very important series Guilie thank you ... we've brought dogs home from the SPCA before but also have found dogs roaming around and taken them to the SPCA in hopes that owners will find them ..

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    1. That's a great service you've done for these dogs, Susan. Lost animals are often at the greatest risk, so bringing them to safety is a huge step in saving their lives—and, hopefully, reuniting them with a very worried family. On their behalf, a BIG thank-you :)

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  12. My neighbor does rescue of all types of animals, dogs, cats, pigs, goats, horses, donkeys, llamas, and deer. Actually, anything that's in need. The family of squirrels that live in the neighbor hood, she raised from little ones. She's even taken on training service dogs. She amazes me! Love the information!
    Happy A to Z - ing!

    Thank you for posting for the A to Z!
    Ninga Minion @YolandaRenee from
    Defending The Pen
    Parallels
    Murderous Imaginings

    couldn't resist, makes me feel official. LOL

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    1. I love your neighbor, Yolanda. Please tell her she has an admirer from across the sea :) (And I love-love-love your Team Signature. Very official indeed! :D )

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  13. Excellent and interesting information - if I ever see a 'lost' dog I will look for these signs to assess what sort of 'lost' they are. I am the lucky owner of an assistance dog - trained and loved to the fullest extent, it would be a massive disaster to lose her. I sometimes worked that she might be stolen. Thank you for visiting my blog last week. ~liz http://www.lizbrownleepoet.com

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    1. You putting all this to good use is the best of rewards, Liz. Thank you so, so much. And how wonderful your dog enjoys such a loving home! Assistance dogs are amazing... You're fortunate to have each other. (But I'm sure you don't need to hear that from me :) )

      Thank you so much for coming by! Loved your blog, and will be visiting throughout (and beyond) April.

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  14. This is such a great idea for a theme. I so admire your work with animals! Looking forward to learning from your posts.

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    1. Thank you, Julie! I thought I could make these posts short, but... *Sigh*. Maybe I need an editor :D Thanks for the visit!

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  15. Interesting theme! Very admirable that you help animals like this.

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    1. Thank you, Misha! Or should I say, 'Fellow D's Company Co-Conspirator'? ;) (Love minioning with you!)

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  16. Great to meet you and I look forward to your other posts for the other letters of the alphabet.

    Also, if you haven't connect with Blog Paws, I would suggest you do. YOu have a wealth of information and Blog Paws is an amazing Pet Blogging Community.

    Have a great weekend hun. :)

    Lindsay
    http://www.theflynnigans.com

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    1. Thank you so much, Lindsay! It's great to meet you too, and thanks for the pointer towards BlogPaws. I did join them a couple of years ago, but it felt like it was more product promotion than actual content, which disappointed me. Maybe I should give them another go :)

      Off to check out your blog—and have a wonderful weekend!

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  17. I love dogs. I always hate to see strays. Even worse is abused dogs. That just breaks my heart.

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    1. I hear you, Robin. In my idea of a perfect world, every dog would have a home. A good, loving home.

      Thanks for coming by!

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  18. I rarely see a dog on the street where I live (or lived in the past) and when I do, most of them are lost. Despite of loving animals, I never gave the courage to approach or interfere unless they're visibly hurt. Even then I would call an animal ambulance. But I think most of my reluctance comes from not having the knowledge so I'm looking forward to get that from you! 💚

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    1. A place with hardly any homeless dogs... Sounds like heaven, Andrea! I'm glad the ones you do see are just lost (vs. dumped or runaways, or feral)... With a bit of help, they have a good chance of finding their families again, or at least a good home. (We'll make a dog rescuer out of you yet! ;) )

      Thanks so much for the visit. It means the world that you feel you'll gain useful knowledge here.

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  19. I'm looking forward to future posts and learning more about rescuing!!

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    1. Thank you! And I'm enjoying your White House Pets series :)

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  20. Great tips! Thankfully we don't have too many issues with stray or abandoned dogs here, but there are a few escapees or lost dogs. I will be filing this in my brain for the future, should I need it!

    Tracy (Black Boots, Long Legs)

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    1. So glad you enjoyed this, Tracy—and, even more, that you found it useful. No greater reward for me than to know you might one day be in a position to help a four-legged wanderer—and that some of this might come in handy :)

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  21. What great information. I'm looking forward to coming back tomorrow so I can learn more. I've never owned a dog, but I'm always interested in learning more.

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    1. I'm happy to hear that, Jeffrey! I'll be looking forward to your thoughts on the Botched post (and I promise the posts will get shorter ;) ). Happy weekend in the meantime!

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  22. Excellent theme Guilie! And great post. So much useful and wise information. We've had our share of lost dogs here lately because of storms. The frightened dogs ended up getting out of their pens or kennels or homes and ran. I just heard heartbreaking news yesterday: there was a Police K9 German Shepherd who got scared during the storms and got out of his kennel. The police and the community searched and searched. Days went by and then yesterday the news: they discovered the dog dead in a stream. He had drowned in the storm. Heart-wrenching!

    As you know, I have greyhounds and being sighthounds, they are very sight focused so if they get loose, in addition to them being extremely fast at 45 mph, they are driven by anything that moves. If they see a squirrel in the distance, they're completely focused on that and they take off at full speed and don't stop to avoid traffic and other dangers. One of my customers just lost their dog a few weeks back. He got out and was later recovered and reported as deceased. Hit by a car. Another heartbreaking case.

    So much time and effort has gone into getting lost dogs recovered and tons of man-hours and frustration. Recent case: 2 greyhounds spotted loose and people kept going back to the spot of sightings with food and squawkers, sometimes bringing other greyhounds on leashes to try to get these guys but to no avail. I still don't know where those two cases stand.

    I have a fool-proof system here at my house to avoid escapes. Whenever someone comes or goes in my house, I corral all the dogs into the garage before opening the door and letting the person or dog in or out the front door. All fence gates are locked at all times. And when I come in through the garage, before I walk in the door, I make sure the big garage door is down and staying on the ground before opening the door. Years ago, my parents were visiting and he opened the door before the big garage door was down and out ran my Maggie. Thankfully she was recovered shortly after but talk about scary! It could've been a different outcome...and not a pretty one. It's so important that people ensure their dogs don't escape or get lost so they don't have to end up being yet another rescue situation.

    I love your topic! Can't wait to see what you bring us tomorrow...

    XOXO

    Michele at Angels Bark

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    1. Such sad stories, Michele... And YES, it's so important for dog owners to keep their dogs safe! I didn't know that about greyhounds, the sight-focused thing. Scary—but very useful to know. What a huge responsibility for you and all greyhound dog-sitters, too! But it sounds like your system is pretty fool-proof. (Maggie's escape notwithstanding... wow, yeah, my heart would've stopped, too.)

      I'm so glad you enjoyed this post! And I'm very much looking forward to your feedback on the Botched one :) (Oh, and I'm LOVING your TV show series! Just got a blast of nostalgia (good nostalgia) from your B post :D )

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  23. This is a great guide, Guilie and I hope anyone planning to rescue a dog reads it.

    Damyanti, AZ cohost 2016

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    1. I'm glad you think so, D :) Thanks for coming by!

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  24. This is very interesting to read about the differences. Good advice to k ow when one comes across a dog

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    1. Thanks, Birgit! I'm glad you liked it :)

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  25. Living in the country, you come across wandering pets. I always look for a tail in the air and a purpose to their walk. People tend to dump females. That is why I have a pack of females.

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    1. Ugh, Ann... It's the same in Mexico; females are the unwanted ones. I thought it was universal, until I came to Curaçao—here females are wanted... because they'll be used for breeding. Not sure which of the two approaches is sadder :(

      Thank you so, so much for finding me. (Did I say how good it feels to connect with a fellow rescuer? ;) )

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  26. These are great tips especially for distemper...we don't think of that all too often;my mini schnauzer would run away all the time to feel that freedom of running loose...I'd be on the phone warning all my neighbours to catch her or tell me where she was...winters worried me due to the frigid cold here in Quebec.

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