Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Good, The Bad, and The Cherry Pickers

Believe it or not, all groups, on some level, cherry pick their dogs. 
For the most part,.. this is normal.  No really, it is!

The Good:

  • Choosing dogs you can actually take care of.

        If you don't know how to train a dog above Sit and Down, well, you probably should not take on that super fearful dog cowering in the corner. Why? Well fearful/shy dogs can sometimes exhibit pretty drastic behavior challenges including. but not limited too,. fear biting, human directed aggression, separation anxiety, destructiveness and possibly even dog directed reactivity. Hey, love cures lots of things, and maybe this dog just needs to be shown some of that,.. but the good cherry pickers will make sure they are capable of handling the possible behavior problems before they take in the dog.  That's right, the rescue is not being cold or heartless,.. they are being responsible. They do care about the dog, but lots happens once a dog is "safe" and they want to make sure they have the ability to give the dog what it needs far past the desperate plea on facebook with ALL CAPITOLS is long forgotten.

       If you don't have the excess funds in your rescue account, all sitting there and looking impressive,.. well you should probably not take on that dog with the unknown illness or the one that needs all it's legs removed or that dog that is very senior and has a medicine collection that might rival a pharmacy. Why? Well,.. fundraising is a great idea,.. in theory, and unless you know a few celebrities, it is not likely that you are going to be able to raise the kind of cash it will take to address the medical concerns of the dog in a timely manner. Rescue groups who do not rush in to take on a medical case are not cold and heartless, ... they are being responsible. Special needs dogs need love too, ... but the Good cherry pickers will know what their finances can realistically withstand, or how successful their fundraising efforts are and would not want to take in a dog that needs lots of medical attention without having a plan in place for paying for it. Taking in a dog with needs you have to wait to address because of lack of funds is irresponsible.

  • Choosing dogs that have a better chance of integrating successfully with your other rescues.

          This is really a Good cherry picking practice. Ideally, responsible rescues want a harmonious home where all of their adoptable dogs can live together and do house dog stuff. While crating and rotating is a good practice while you are introducing your dogs to each other, it is not ideal nor is it very sustainable. Good rescues know their dogs, including what personalities, sizes, ages and gender, will work best with the other animals in their home. Choosing new rescues based on the needs of your other adoptable dogs, as well as your personal situation and environment is a responsible rescue practice. A rescue that cannot take in another dog reactive, intact, barely trained, male adult, is not cold or heartless,... They are being responsible knowing that this situation might reduce the quality of life for all dogs involved, and the increased need for strict management would reduce the amount of time they had for cuddles, walks, or basic training.

The Bad: 

  • Choosing dogs based on their story

         This is actually the most common type of Bad Cherry Picking out there. Rescuing a dog because it has a sad story is not very responsible. We as rescuers, should never be taking a dog in simply because we feel bad, because social media is guilting us into taking a sad story, or because we think the story will help us raise funds, get "likes" or gain support. While yes, sad stories to invoke a sense of urgency into a rescue situation, rescue is not just about a story, it is about sending out wonderful dogs into adoptive homes and providing resources for communities so that the number of animals needing rescue can be reduced and responsible ownership can be nurtured through advocacy, modeling good pet ownership, and an increased number of resources to give pet owners the help they need to keep their pets.  That right there is reason enough to make a rescue popular in their communities, sad stories, while they do show up in a rescue, should never be the driving force behind that rescue. you may even hear
"We don't Cherry Pick, We take in ALL dogs" yup, especially dogs who are highly promotable, who have great stories and can make a drastic turn around.These dogs may initially require lots of vetting, or may only need surface work, but the changes that happen are drastic, shocking, or miraculous. If a rescue is consistently taking in these kinds of cases, or even exclusively, yes, they are cherry picking.
  • Choosing dogs based on the amount of money someone has pledged to give

**RESCUE ONLY** DIES TONIGHT!!! $400 IN PLEDGES   <--- Look familiar? Yeah, it is everywhere on social media and it spreads from share to share like the plague. Sure, these people mean well, they just want to sweeten the pot on a dog they don't want to see euthanized. Rescues that choose dogs based on how much in pledges might go along with that dog are Bad cherry pickers. Yup, having extra funds to transport that dog from California, would be helpful, and yes, that money might even go to good use for the hundreds of dollars you already know you are going to have to spend on that sick dog you want at your rescue so badly, but guess what,.. sometimes donations don't actually get made, and you still have a dog that you have to transport, and you still have vet bills, and this dog you saved because you thought you were not going to have to put out much money for, still needs care regardless if you see a dime. 

Rescue Responsibly

  Cherry picking happens in Rescue LOTS, and while some of it can be a good thing, responsible even, we have to be careful, because rescuing with your heart and not your head can land you in some situations that are not only bad for the rescue, the animals at that rescue, but also for the community at large. 

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