With her permission, we are posting a Sheltie Rescue Raison d'Etre written Jan. 5, 1999 by National Sheltie Rescue Network Coordinator, Dorothy Christiansen, in response to an angry letter because we would not place one of our rescues with the inquirer who would have confined the Sheltie outdoors on a farm (we want them living indoors with their families with a yard if possible or many jaunts outdoors). Here is Dorothy's apologia that includes valuable information for Sheltie Rescuers and Adopters both.

Many of our rescuers--who spend thousands of dollars and hours every year saving these dogs from pounds and certain death--work in climates where keeping an animal outside means certain death. I live in Chicago where wind chills tonight will be -35 or lower coupled with two feet of snow. No animal including livestock deserves to be outside here tonight. My neighbor's horse is in tonight, I can tell you that.

Each rescue sets its own policies regarding placement. Since many of these dogs were lost or strays, giving them free rein in an open area might cause them to panic and run again, to be hurt or killed. Rescue dogs are placed in restrictive situations (fenced yards, walked on lead) until they bond to their families and can be trusted to run loose. Once the bond is established, more freedom is allowed though we prefer people exercise caution when it is done just as one would with a very young child. An adult rescue dog would have no clue about the animals and since it would not yet have bonded to you, would most likely run at the first opportunity, especially if frightened by a horse or cow. For this reason, rescues are not normally placed in areas where they can bolt. Some rescues insist on fenced yards only, others are more lenient and will allow the dog to be walked on lead. But none will ever place a dog in such an unrestricted area. Our primary concern is the well being of the animal.

In the Shetland crofts, shelties were inside with the family as well as working outside. They thrive on being with those they love, not left alone in the farmyard with the rest of the stock. I personally know of two shelties killed by kicks from cattle. I have a friend in MN that raises sheep. They use their rottie for herding; the shelties are in the house and yard. And even the rottie comes inside with the family. Coyotes would always be a threat too. They never felt they were denying their dog a happy life (now almost 13) but rather with providing it with a safe, happy home. I do not think rescue turned down an excellent home and will stand by their decision.

The FAQs

I don't live in Texas: How do I find a Sheltie Rescue organization near me?

Since we rarely place dogs out of our area--and then only if we can get a colleague to do the home visitation, and the adoptive family pays all shipping costs in addition to the adoption fee--we suggest you find a Sheltie Rescue organization near you. Most of them can be found at the National Sheltie Rescue Registry website or on the American Shetland Sheepdog Association's Rescue page.

What kinds of dogs are available?

Shelties of every age, size, and color have come through our rescue program. They have come from a wide variety of homes and experiences. Their temperaments range from sweet and gentle to outgoing and active. Most of our dogs are healthy, beautiful Shelties who need a second chance. Though we see a wide variety of dogs in rescue, the dogs we rescue most frequently are 5-6 year old sable and white males. Some of the dogs we rescue need a good deal of patience to help them overcome some of the trauma of abuse and neglect. Some need ongoing medical treatment. Some need behavior modification through an obedience program.

What do I need to do to adopt one of these dogs?

Our goal is to match your family's needs and lifestyle with the dog that would be happy in that environment. People who are successful rescue dog owners are people who understand the years of commitment and expense that go into caring for a dog. Often they have a long history of responsible dog ownership. Because we are committed to a successful adoption for you and your Sheltie, we will be asking some questions that may seem intrusive, and we will wish to visit your home. Please realize that we are only trying to ensure a positive placement.

We require that our Shelties be indoor pets, with access to a secure fenced yard. Shelties are much better pets when they are allowed to be inside and a part of the family. On occasion we will place a Sheltie with people who live in apartments. If you are renting an apartment or single-dwelling home, we will need a letter from your landlord authorizing you to keep a dog and proof of pet deposit.

An adoption fee will be required at the time of placement to help offset our costs of caring for our rescued dogs. The fee for adult dogs ages 1-9 is $300. For puppies under 12 months, the fee is $375. The fee for senior dogs (10+) is $200. Because these fees are in exchange for the dog (considered a purchase by the IRS), they are not tax-deductible; however, additional donations to our program are tax-deductible.

Will my Sheltie have Registration Papers?

Most of our dogs have unknown pasts and pedigrees. Occasionally we will get papers with a dog, and those will be transferred to the new owner by the previous owner. Rescue organizations may not do the transfer because it is a legal matter between owners. New owners wishing to work their rescued Shelties in obedience and agility trials may request an ILP form from the ASSA or AKC web sites.

Could I breed my new rescued Sheltie?

All HSS Shelties are spayed or neutered before adoption. There are too many unwanted dogs in this country, often due to poor breeding practices. We believe that breeding should be in the hands only of professionals who are members of the ASSA and familiar with genetics, health, and other breeding issues in Shelties.

What can I expect when I bring my new dog home?

Please study our Adoption Tips Guideline Sheet for more detailed suggestions.

Rescued Shelties need love, patience, and a commitment to their care and training. A large majority of our dogs are strays with an unknown housebreaking history. Even with dogs who are known to be housebroken, it is best to treat your new dog as if it were a new puppy for the first few weeks until it is clear that the dog is housebroken or knows where it is supposed to go.

DO NOT let your dog off leash in any unfenced area for the first month it is with you. It is a good idea to always keep your dog on leash when it is outside. Your dog will need time to bond with you and to become acclimated to its new home. Rescued dogs can be easily disoriented in new surroundings and become lost.

Crate training is a great way to aid in housebreaking as well as a useful alternative in providing a secure place for your dogs to rest if you are going to be away for a few hours. Most Shelties crate train easily. Ask a rescue volunteer about crate training if you want to learn more about it.

Your dog will need routine veterinary care on an annual basis. Attending a dog obedience class with your new dog will help speed the bonding process between you. Sheltie Rescue committee members are always available to answer questions or provide any other assistance to help you and your Rescue Sheltie make a smooth transition.

What happens if I cannot keep my rescued Sheltie?

All Shelties adopted from HSS remain members of our program family. If new owners cannot keep the dog, the dog must be returned to HSS. No HSS Sheltie is ever to be left in a shelter, given or sold to a third party, or abandoned to the streets. If the dog is returned within the first two weeks, we will refund the donation in full. After two weeks, there is no refund. If the dog has behavior problems, contact HSS coordinators. Many of our volunteers have years of experience and can assist in correcting a problem so that the Sheltie may remain in his or her new home. We also always recommend obedience training for the good of both our dogs and their new families.

[Adapted from Northern California Sheltie Rescue and Southland Sheltie Rescue with permission]

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