Friday, January 14, 2011

The importance of keeping in touch

Other rescue people, non rescue people, my foster homes, my friends and maybe even my adopters might think I am crazy for keeping in touch and making sure I stay in touch with all of the people who adopted from me. I have rescue friends who say "how do you have time?" I don't, I make time and the bigger my rescue grows and the more dogs I place, I realize I am going to have to find volunteers to help me but it is VERY IMPORTANT to keep in touch with the families who have adopted the dogs I have placed.

WHY? I am sure you are asking. Well many reasons, I want to make sure the people who adopt from me know they can come to me for dog advice when needed. It helps me learn and how to make sure I am matching people and dogs up properly. If I just adopt out a dog and never talk to the people again how am I going to know if I did a good job, an ok job or a bad job of placing that dog and if I don't know how can I improve? how can I learn to be better at matching people and dogs?

The other reason is because I really do care about every dog I place and I want to make sure they are safe and don't end up homeless again. By me keeping in contact I can 100% guarantee it kept 2 dogs from either being put to sleep or thrown out on the streets.

Daphne this sweet scared little black and white dog that Lisa (a foster home) and I placed in early 2007. The couple was really nice, young and had just gotten married. The wife had a son from a previous relationship, I think he was 9 years old. The dog was really to be his dog.. 2007 and 2008 everything was going great with the dog. Then when I sent out my Puppy Party e-vites the email bounced back. I sent a letter regular mail asking for them to reach out to me. Right around Christmas 2009 the mother reached out to me. The email I had for her was her work email and she had quit because she had a baby and the couple moved to a new house. She at that time stated her husband no longer wanted Daphne and she was glad to receive my letter because she was hoping I could take Daphne back.

A very long story short they did return Daphne and after gathering more information from the wife. I believe the husband was being abusive towards the dog and the husband was also a little put off by the boy since the boy wasn't his. The husband was threatening daily the wife and boy that he was going to "get rid" of the dog.

SERIOUSLY! Could you imagine if I hadn't of stayed in touch? Where would Daphne be?? I LOVE LOVE LOVE that dog. The foster home how originally had her as a foster is keeping her forever and I just love going over there because Daphne jumps all over me and is so happy and licks me. I love that little dog. It almost makes me cry to think, she could be dead or God knows what right now.

Another example is my Splash. I LOVE that dog too... ok yea whatever I love them all.. LOL! But seriously I wanted to keep Splash. She is a cool dog. I kept in contact send a holiday card every year to her family and sending the e-vite for the puppy party every year. They weren't all that interested in keeping in touch with me but I kept in touch anyways.

November I think it was I received a random email from the women owner of Splash. She was contacting me first because she new I cared a lot about Splash and wanted to see if I would take her back. She said "Splash has changed and I am going to either need you to take her back or I will be putting her to sleep or take her to a shelter" WHAT?????!!! OH no you aren't! Was my reaction, in my head.

I emailed her back and said what is going on? She gave me a bull shit story and excuses. She said she was contacting me because I had kept in touch and she knew I liked Splash. Well first of all lady, you signed a contract so you have to give her back. I didn't say that but wanted to.

Long story short, I got Splash back, she is totally fine, the lady's story was bull shit and the truth was she took Splash to the vet and was totally scammed by the vet who charged her nearly $400 for routine check up and vaccinations and Hubby who never wanted to the dog in the first place got pissed and said DOGS GOT TO GO! Own up lady, tell the truth and don't make up lies. UGH!

Now imagine what would have happened to Splash if I wouldn't have kept in touch? She would be sitting in a shelter somewhere, scared, alone.. DEAD by now, she is a black dog and we all know those are the last adopted and the first killed.

My rant today is because people might think I am silly, crazy, ridiculous or over the top for making sure I keep in touch with all my adopters and if their emails bounce back to me, I call, I send letters I do what I need to until I get a response but honestly if it wasn't for me doing that Splash and Daphne would be where? would be dead? would be suffering? Who knows!

And those are only 2 very recent examples... I have more examples but those two are probably the most extreme b/c those dogs were adopted 4 years ago.


Allison at Novice Life said...

Amy I completely agree with you. After all the work a rescuer goes through rescuing an animal and trying to ensure proper placement, how could you go on NOT getting updates on that animal....especially for the 'just in case' circumstances you mentioned.

We do the same at the horse rescue and it is written in to their contract that we will do check-in's and they return to horse to us if they can no longer keep it.

Dog Rescuer said...

@ Allison - it is written in my contract to but to my dismay not everyone remembers what is says.

Mindy said...

Amy, I think it is terrific and I again applaud your incredible efforts! A standing ovation, actually! Over the years I have adopted from 2 rescues that never, ever called or emailed or anything. Initially, they both were really adamant about finding the perfect home, both bothered to make long drives to make sure my house was a good match, loads of paperwork,reference checks, took a long time, ect ect... one was even the branch of a national breed rescue. Guess what - never heard from either of them ever again. The one place I even tried to contact twice and email when the dog was having serious, SERIOUS health issues. We just could not keep her going anymore and I needed to talk to the rescue so that we could talk about the difficult decision. Never heard from them, even after that sweet girl went to the bridge. The other dog I have had for years, but they would never know, they have never reached out. I am willing to bet that 99% of the families that you call are happy that you are there for them if they ever need you. Well done!

Roberta @ Silverwalk said...

I must echo Mindy and Allison. I follow up with those who follow me but do not do the job I should as you describe - to my shame. Rescue is a learning process. I will put this aggressive follow-up into my repetoire. I have one family who jokes how I never have done a home check on them - but I see the dog they adopted from me (an emergency foster) every time I am with them via iPhone. She is one spoiled dog - and I do want to visit their home :). Thanks - I wouldn't call your post a rant so much as a wake up call and call to action for those of us who are less than diligent about following up with all our dogs. Thanks.

Kate said...

When I think you are doing a very good job with your animal rescue activity and I admire you with all your efforts. And for us adopters we should not stop by giving shelter to the animals. I have adopted a rabbit and yes I gave him a rabbit hutch to live but at the same time I give care and love.