5 min read (Articles narrated by Mabel)
Like many dog lovers, Molly is quick to trust dog rescues. After all, they’re saving dogs in need out of the goodness of their hearts, so we need to be kind to them. But as it turns out, not every dog rescue can be trusted. Why? Well, because some of them aren’t rescues at all!
Molly volunteers for a group called Bailing Out Benji, who raises awareness about puppy mills and aims to ban puppy sales in pet stores. At a recent volunteer event, she was reminded of a horrible fact: some puppy mills are disguised as rescues!
How Can a Puppy Mill Call Themselves a Rescue?
The answer to this is simple: they lie. It’s the same way puppy mills get away with anything. With more cities banning puppy sales, puppy mills will try to find any loopholes they can. Some cities changed their laws to allow only rescue dogs to be sold in pet stores. But that rule quickly backfired when pet stores lied and said that their puppy mill puppies were rescues.
Also, as I mentioned before, people are more likely to trust rescues above all else. People like to know they’re doing a good thing. So, puppy mills might pose as rescues to get more sales.
It might seem farfetched, but while volunteering Molly saw a real life example. A woman approached the Bailing Out Benji booth and went on and on about how she supported rescues and hated puppy mills, which is a fairly normal response for most dog lovers. But then she went on to explain this “amazing” rescue she got two of her dogs from. She said the woman running the rescue drove her van closer to her to bring her the rescue puppies. And for anyone who knows about puppy mills, meeting in a neutral location is a red flag of a puppy mill.
Of course, Molly didn’t say anything in the moment since she didn’t know for sure, but one of the other volunteers researched the “rescue” afterwards. As it turns out, the business had many reports of being a puppy mill and had since been shut down. It’s heartbreaking to think that the woman thought she was doing the right thing, but ended up supporting the businesses she feared instead. It just goes to show that humans need to be extra cautious about where they get their dogs from.
How to Tell if a Dog Rescue is Legit
You can never be too cautious when finding a place to get a dog from. So, here are some tips to ensure that you’re getting your dog from a certified rescue and not an inhumane breeding business in disguise.
Make Sure It’s Certified
A real rescue will be registered as a 501c3 nonprofit. This is public information and can be accessed on the IRS website. They should also have an official business license, and probably more legal documents on top of that. If a rescue is ever hesitant to give out this information or if you can’t find anything about it online, that’s a huge red flag. A real rescue will have no problem being upfront about their licenses and certifications.
Do a Google Search
It might sound obvious, but many dog parents forget to do their full research before getting a dog. A quick Google search of any rescue, shelter, or breeder could give you some shocking information. If a “rescue” has any negative reviews claiming to be fake, don’t take it lightly. Any fishy information in a Google search should be taken seriously. After all, puppy mills get away with so much since people don’t always question unusual actions.
Ask Detailed Questions
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. A real rescue will be happy to tell you as many details about their organization as possible. After all, they want to ensure that each dog goes to the perfect family. Ask questions like, “why did you choose to work in rescue?”, “what does the adoption fee cover?”, “what is your rehoming policy?”, and “will you help if the dog gets sick?” Despite being non-profits, rescues will usually do everything they can to help adopters and make sure everything goes smoothly. Puppy mills are quick to disappear if your puppy is sick or needs to be returned. They’re quick to make a sale while rescues have a lengthy adoption process. Also, a puppy mill might not answer these questions as thoroughly as you’d expect from a rescue.
Don’t Meet in a Neutral Space
This might seem like the opposite of the “stranger danger” rules, but meeting in neutral spaces is a key sign of a puppy mill. Most rescues either have an office where you can meet the dogs or they will direct you right to the dog’s foster home. If they offer to meet you in a random parking lot with their van, suggest something else. Puppy mills will do anything they can to avoid showing you where the dogs have been kept. So, if they can’t show you a loving environment for the dogs, then don’t trust them.
Ensure That They’re Passionate About Rescue
Finally, this rule isn’t one that you can easily determine. It relies more on your gut feeling. Anyone who works in rescue knows that you have to be passionate about saving dogs to do it for little to no money. So, you can sometimes tell if a place is trustworthy just based on how they talk and how they interact with the dogs. If you suspect that saving dogs isn’t their passion, then trust those instincts. A puppy mill breeder can lie all the want, but they can’t fake love and passion.
After finding out this information, getting a dog might seem harder than ever. Even when you’re doing the right thing, you could be unknowingly supporting a bad business, which is terrifying to think about. But if this fact is worrying you, don’t panic. You can still help a dog in need by taking your time and doing proper research. And if you know a reputable rescue, be sure to recommend them to your friends and family to ensure that they don’t make any mistakes when getting a dog.
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