I wasn't going to post to this thread anymore. After one of the most likeable and respected rescue operators on these Boards put up posts that said (paraphrased, and this of course is only my perception) "The PROBLEM is shitty owners, and in all likelihood this applicant would be one, and is only looking for clues to what I want them to say so that they can lie and trick me into giving them an animal that will later die because of it" -- to a chorus of "Hear, hear" and "Like, like, LIKE" -- I felt the thread was not likely to do a lot to help with the growing public perception problem that I (mistakenly, maybe?) thought I saw. So I regretted that I had prolonged it, after the OP was sent packing, and kinda hoped it would die quickly. But after reading mbc1963's and alligande's posts, I thought I might give it another try.
Is there a problem? The purpose of border collie rescue is to re-home abandoned or unwanted border collies. If there are not a lot of border collies in need of re-homing, then it doesn't matter how rescues operate. It doesn't matter if they're unrealistic, rigid and hostile, because they'll still get enough applicants to deal with the small number of dogs needing help. But if there are a lot of border collies in need of re-homing -- if the denial of a dog to a person who would give it a good home means that dog's slot in rescue does not open up to take in another needy dog, and as a result that other needy dog dies -- then it seems to me there IS a problem. Likewise, if the public perception that rescues are unrealistic, rigid and hostile grows to the point where a lot of people decide not to apply to rescue (which I agree is currently much approved of as a way to get a dog), then that would be a problem too, it seems to me.
I get the impression rescues think this negative perception is either held just by a few disgruntled individuals and so it's not big enough to matter, or that it's inevitably going to be held by everyone who's turned away so nothing can be done about it. But while I really don't know whether it will ever reach critical mass, I have to say that I'm seeing it more and more and more, and I can't think that's a good thing. And it seems to me that telling someone they have no right to feel that way because they're just going by what they've heard from friends and acquaintances, or they're just going by what they've read, or they're just going by the rescue's application materials, or they're just going by their experience with one rescue, or they're just going by their experience with two rescues, or if they ended up going to a breeder they must have really wanted to do that all along and are just blaming rescue for their own moral failings, etc., is an exercise in futility. It seems to me that somebody like Hiker is simply giving you info s/he feels might be helpful for you to know. S/he's not going to change his/her reaction/conclusion because you say s/he doesn't have a good basis for it; s/he's just going to think "Well, I tried to tell them what's happening" and go away.
So, the question I have for those of you who have never tried to adopt a dog with a rescue organization but who are certain that you wouldn't have a positive experience because of things you've heard and read, what should the members of the rescue organizations who do not have the problems so frequently mentioned do about the organizations that do (how's that for a convoluted sentence)?
Eileen's answer was "self-reflection" and considering if there are turn-offs on the organization's website. Check, these organizations seem to have done that. What now?
There is no "rescue"--there are hundreds of mom and pop type shops--some of them do a great job; some of them are disasters. Seems to me that all the ones that do a good job can do is keep doing a good job.
But Ruth, you only looked at three rescue websites! How can you draw conclusions from that?
Seriously, I'm not surprised that my suggesting self-reflection did not go over well. I was afraid that would be so. But I still believe it would be a good idea for a lot of rescues. It's hard to look critically at your own policies, procedures, and projected attitudes, and really see them from the point of view of an ordinary person who may know much less about dogs than you do but who would nevertheless give a dog a good home. But it could prove valuable if done with an open mind.
But okay, what if your rescue is as good as it could possibly be in all these respects? What could you do about all this? I think that's a tough question. I can't claim I know the answer, because I don't. I understand that many people may think there's no point even to try to think about answers, because there couldn't be any. I realize, as I said back in my first post, that "'Rescue' is not a single entity. Each rescue has its own policies, and even if one rescue thinks another is misguided, there's really no way to change the misguided one's policies."
But in reading the Winograd article
, I reflected on the influence he says HSUS has had on shelter policies. HSUS publishes standards for shelter adoption policies (one of them being that cats may not be adopted to those who will let them go outdoors), and it's easy for shelters to simply adopt those policies and say that their shelter is run in accordance with HSUS policies (which makes them look good in the eyes of the general public, if not in the eyes of most on these Boards). According to Winograd, their overly rigid policies have had the effect of diminishing shelter adoptions to good homes. But what if the idea of model policies could be used in a beneficial way? Is there any way that a few well-regarded rescues in a state or region could collaborate on model policies and practices that might come to be seen as a consensus or "standard of care" for rescues generally? They might influence other rescues toward self-reflection and change, and they might give the public the idea that these issues are taken seriously by at least some rescues, and that rescues are addressing them.
I recognize that this is probably not a great idea, and I can see many objections to it: we are too busy helping dogs to do something like this, it would deteriorate into inter-group politics, it is not worth it for the miserable worthless people who are finding fault with us, etc. I agree that my earlier suggestion of a sticky was probably lame too. But I can't help thinking that those who know more about rescue than I do might well be able to come up with better ones, if they came to believe this was a problem.