Good Rescue, Bad Rescue – Can you tell the difference?

Most of us know the Dogs Trust famous quote “A dog is for life, not just for Christmas”. Absolutely correct, but frequently not adhered to. The internet, and in particular Facebook, has allowed a huge number of “rescues” to set up and peddle dogs.

A good rescue is not an easy place to get a dog from, you should expect to be quizzed and be told which dog or dogs suits you. If they act like a shop, allowing you to choose whichever dog you want, walk away.




Rescue is a sadly necessary and rewarding thing to do. I run a specialist rescue for retired Police dogs.

Facebook makes it easy for the bad rescues to hide their mess. On a daily basis there are dogs rehomed who aren’t neutered or vaccinated, not assessed or trained and often passed around endlessly as each home fails the dog, as does the rescue. As these people simply glory seek on social media as they “save” dog after dog, they don’t care who takes the dogs. This has also meant that people turned away by decent rescues get dogs they shouldn’t have.

You need to adopt a dog that has been assessed, neutered, vaccinated and chipped. Otherwise where are their funds going? There should be a proper written contract, signed on the adoption day. You are taking in a dog to be part of your family, to live an intimate life with you all. This has to be a decision made carefully so that you and the dog are safe.

Rescues don’t put barriers up just to annoy you, their job is to rehome safely. Many won’t home where there are young children or full time workers. Some will consider these situations, depending on the dog.

You need back up in case things don’t go well. I see a lot of dogs brought in from abroad, abandoned by the “rescue” and the adopter when it went wrong. I see more sent out by people helping pound dogs that seem to go wrong daily.

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Make the best decision and give your time and money to rescues doing the job properly.

This is what you should ask before adopting:

• Are dogs assessed and by whom

• Are dogs neutered, vaccinated, chipped and insured before I adopt

• What happens if it goes wrong and the dog doesn’t fit in

• Do you have a trainer/behaviourist on staff I can talk to before and after the adoption

• Will you do a home check before adoption

• What does the adoption contract look like

• What procedures are in place should there be an emergency and the dog needs to move straight away

• What advice do you have for the first couple of weeks settling in

Remember, your family need you to make the best decision. Don’t let your heart rule your head and regret it later. Adopting a dog and watching it flourish and become a family member is such a rewarding experience. Research first, ask the right questions and you will end up with the dog you all deserve.


Debbie Connolly 1


Debbie Connolly is a straight talking North Easterner with over 30 years experience in animal behaviour. She is a member of the Pet Professional Guild of force free trainers, behaviour adviser to Pet Education Trust and Bengal Cat Helpline and runs the only UK rescue specialising in retired Police dogs, Bravo Working Dog Rescue.

Her first book "Better Dog Behaviour" is a funny, honest and helpful view of both owners and dogs and will soon be followed by "Better Cat Behaviour".

She has many media credits in TV, radio and print and is known for her forthright approach.

Debbie Connolly

T: 0208 1445799 (South East) 0115 8883334 (Midlands)

Twitter @Debbie_Connolly

Twitter @bravodogrescue

Training & Behaviour Adviser to The Pet Education Trust and Bengal Cat Helpline


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