Do you really have to give up your White Swiss Shepherd?
Not that long ago, you were thrilled to have a White Swiss Shepherd puppy of your very own. You never dreamed you'd have to give him up someday. Even if you can't keep him any more, your dog still depends on you to do what's best for him, just like he depended on you when he was a puppy. Now, more than ever, he needs you to make the right choices for his future.
Throughout this article, we're going to be direct and honest with you. Your dog is your responsibility. He has no one else but you to look out for his interests. It'll take effort, patience and persistence to find him the right home. He deserves your best efforts.
Finding a new home involves several steps. Before you start, there are some important things you should know...
......about Animal Shelters.....
Shelters and humane societies were created to care for stray and abused animals. They weren't meant to be a drop-off for people who don't want their pets anymore. Shelters, on average, take in 100 new animals or more each day. Let's face it - there won't be enough good homes for all of them. Even the best shelters can't boast much more than a 50% adoption rate. Only the youngest, friendliest, cutest and best behaved dogs are going to be adopted.
By law, stray pets must be kept several days for their owners to reclaim them. They may not be destroyed until that period is up. Dogs given up by their owners may not be protected by these laws and be destroyed at any time. Shelters don't want to kill all these animals but they don't have a choice. There just isn't enough room for all of them. Shelters today are so overcrowded that your dog could be killed the same day it arrives.
If your White Swiss Shepherd is old, has a health problem or a poor attitude toward strangers, its chances of adoption are slim to none. Your dog may be as good as dead when it walks in the door.
Sending your dog to a shelter in hopes that he'll find a good home is wishful thinking. It's more likely that you'll be signing your White Swiss Shepherd's death warrant. A shelter is your last resort only after all your best efforts have failed.
....... about "No-Kill" shelters and Breed Rescue services ......
True "no-kill" shelters are few and far between. Obviously, no one wants to see their pet killed so the demand for no-kill shelter services is high. So high that they're forced to turn away many pets because they don't have room for them all. Sometimes they have to choose only the most adoptable dogs to work with.
Do you really have to give up your White Swiss Shepherd? There's a big difference between being forced to give up your dog and wanting to "get rid of him". Search your heart for the real reason why your dog can't live with you anymore. Be honest with yourself. Your answer will probably fall into one of two categories: People Problems or Dog Problems.
The Most Common People Problems:
"We're moving - we can't find a landlord who'll let us keep our dog."....... Many landlords don't allow children either but you'd never give up one of your kids if you couldn't find the right house. Affordable rental homes that allow pets are out there if you work to find them. Most people give up too easily. Moving is the most common reason why people give up their pets. It doesn't have to be this way.
- Most people give up too quickly in their search for rental property that accepts pets. Don't be too quick to jump on the first house you see. There'll probably be a better one available soon.
- Widen your search. Most people only look as far as the classified ads. Many landlords list their property through real estate agents or rental associations rather than the classifieds. Take advantage of rental services that help tenants find houses. Ask friends, relatives and co-workers to keep an eye open for you. Many houses are rented via word of mouth before they're ever advertised.
- A home that allows pets might be in a different neighbourhood than you'd prefer. It might be a few more kilometres from work. It might not be as luxurious as you'd like. It might cost a few dollars more. Are you willing to compromise if it means being able to keep your dog?
- "No Pets" doesn't always mean "no pets, period." Many landlords automatically rule out pets because they don't want the hassle. Many of these landlords are pet owners themselves. Just because the ad says "no pets" doesn't mean you shouldn't go see the house anyway. During the interview, ask the landlord "Are pets absolutely out of the question?" If he answers, "well....", you have a chance! Hint: You'll have better luck asking this question in person than over the telephone - it's harder for people to say no to your face.
- In difficult times, people often have to move in with relatives or friends who don't like dogs. This doesn't have to be an impossible situation. Use a dog crate when you're not home or when your family doesn't want your dog underfoot. A portable kennel run can be set up in the yard for exercise and can be sold later when you have your own place and don't need it anymore.
- Don't think you're being unfair to your dog by moving into a smaller place than what he's used to. Dogs are very adaptable, they can often adjust even faster than people. Where he lives isn't as important to him as who he lives with. He wants to be with you and he doesn't care where that is.
To encourage a landlord to let you keep your dog......
- ...bring your well-groomed, well-behaveddog to the rental interview. Show the landlord that your dog is well-cared-for and that you're a responsible owner. Bring along an obedience class certificate if your dog has one.
- ...offer an additional security deposit or rental amount to be able to have a dog.
- ...bring references from your previous landlords and neighbours. Invite the landlord to see your present home to show him that the dog has not damaged the property nor been a nuisance to the neighbours.
- ...use a dog crate. Landlords are much more receptive to dogs that will be crated when their owners aren't home.
"We don't have enough time for the dog".......as a puppy, your dog took far more of your time than he does now. A White Swiss Shepherd doesn't really take that much time - his requirements for attention are often less than of many other breeds. Grooming need only take an hour a week. Are you really that busy? Can other members of your family help care for the dog? Will getting rid of your White Swiss Shepherd really make your life less stressful? When they look closely at their lives, people often discover that the dog isn't cramping their style as much as they think.
The Most Common Dog Problems:
Behaviour problems.........If you got your dog as a puppy and he now has a behaviour problem you can't live with, you must accept the fact that you are at least partly responsible for the way your dog is now.
You have 4 options:
- You can continue to live with your dog the way he is.
- You can get help to correct the problem.
- You can try to give your problem to someone else.
- You can have the dog destroyed.
Obviously the first option is out or you wouldn't be reading this booklet. You're probably most interested in Option 3 so let's talk frankly about that for a moment.
If you were looking for a dog and could select from all kinds of dogs and puppies, would you deliberately choose one with a Behaviour problem?
No, certainly not - and neither would anyone else. To make your dog desirable to other people, you're going to have to take some action to fix his problems.
Most behaviour problems aren't that hard to solve. We can help you with them if you'll give it a try. Think hard about Option 2 before deciding it won't work for you - because the only option you have left is number 4: Having the dog destroyed. That's the bottom line. If you, who know and love the dog best, won't give him another chance, why should anyone else? Think about that.
... IF YOUR DOG HAS EVER BITTEN ANYONE ...
If your dog is aggressive with people or has ever bitten anyone, you can't, in good conscience, give him to anyone else. Could you live with yourself if that dog hurt another person, especially a child? Can you deal with the lawsuit that could result from it? You stand to lose your home and everything else you own. Lawsuits from dog bites are settling for millions of dollars in damages.
Our society today has zero tolerance for a dog with a bite history, no matter how minor. A dog that has bitten - whether or not it was his fault - is considered by law to be a dangerous dog. And to be perfectly honest, no responsible person in his right mind would want to adopt a biting dog.
No matter how much you love your dog, if he has ever bitten anyone, you only have one responsible choice - take him to your veterinarian and have him humanely put to sleep. Don't leave him at a shelter where he might be frightened and confused and put other people at risk. Don't try to place him as a "guard dog" where he might be neglected, abused or used for dogfighting.
As hard as it is to face, putting a potentially dangerous, biting dog to sleep is the only safe and responsible thing to do. It's the right thing to do.
So how do you re-home your dog?
Step 1 - Call your dog's breeder.
Before you do anything else, call the person you got your dog from and ask for help. Even if several years have passed, responsible breeders care about the puppies they sold and will want to help you find a new home. They may even take the dog back. At the very least, they deserve to know what you intend to do with the White Swiss Shepherd and what will happen to it. If you can't remember the breeder's name, look on your dog's registration papers. If you got your dog from an animal shelter or rescue service, read the adoption contract you signed when you adopted him. You may be required by the contract to return the dog to that shelter.
Step 2 - Evaluate your dog's adoption potential.
To successfully find a new home, you need to be realistic about your dog's adoption potential. Let's be honest: most people don't want "used" dogs, especially if they have health or behaviour problems. Your dog will have the best chance if he's less than 4 years old, is healthy, friendly to strangers, obeys commands and adapts quickly to new situations. Look at your dog as if you were meeting him for the first time. What kind of impression would he make? Would you want to adopt him?
You already know that White Swiss Shepherds are special dogs for special people. Those special people can be hard to find. Most people interested in White Swiss Shepherds today have never had one before. They want a dog that will greet them with a wagging tail or will at least allow them to pet him. If your dog is aggressive to strangers, is "temperamental" or has ever bitten anyone, finding him another home may not be your best option.
What kind of home do you want for your White Swiss Shepherd? A large fenced yard? Another dog to play with? Children? No children? Make a list of what you feel is most important for your dog. Then get real. No home will be perfect, of course, so you'll have to make compromises. What kind of people are you looking for? What will you be willing to compromise on? Once you have a firm idea of what you're looking for, it will be easier to plan your search and get the results you want.
Step 3 - Get your dog ready
Your dog will be much more appealing if he's clean, well-groomed and healthy. First, take him to the vet for a check up. He'll need up to date with worming and vaccinations. Be sure to tell the vet about any behaviour problems so he can rule out physical causes.
If your dog has never been tattooed or microchipped, this is a great time to do it. It's not unusual for newly adopted dogs to get loose and become lost. A permanent ID will help your dog get back to you or his new owners.
Groom your dog. You want your dog to look beautiful and make a good impression. He needs to be clean and well-dressed! Get rid of those mats and tangles and give him a bath. Make sure he's neatly trimmed. If you can't do these things yourself, take him to a groomer. Get rid of his old collar and buy a nice, new, strong collar and lead.
Set a reasonable adoption fee. The key word is "reasonable". You can't expect the new owner to pay you anywhere near the same price for a "used" dog as they would for a shiny new puppy. A reasonable range might be between $65-150, enough to help offset your advertising and veterinary costs.
Step 4 - Contact the WSSDCA
The WSSDCA has a listing service to assist you in rehoming your dog. Complete the WSSDCA surrender form with the WSSDCA Inc Rehoming Service and contact the rehoming officer.
We do NOT take the dog from you, and house it for you. You retain the dog with you, and as any enquiries are received we put you in touch with prospective new owners.
It is then between you and the prospective owner to determine whether the adoption is good for all concerned.
Step 5 - The In-Person Interview
Once you've chosen a family (or families) that you feel are good candidates, make an appointment for them to see the dog. You should actually set two appointments: one at your house and one at theirs. Going to their house lets you see whether their home and yard are truly what they said they are and whether your dog will do well there. It also gives you an opportunity to call off the adoption and take the dog back home with you if things aren't as represented, if you think there'll be problems or if you just get a bad feeling about the whole thing.
If they already have a dog, make plans to introduce the dogs on "neutral" territory, like a park. Most dogs resent meeting a strange dog at home. They may be hostile toward the new dog or even start a fight.
If the family has children, ask them to bring them to the interview. You need to see how the dog will react to them and how the children treat the dog. Some allowance should be made for kids' natural enthusiasm but if these children are undisciplined, disrespectful to your dog and not kept in hand by their parents, your dog could be mistreated in its new home and someone could get bitten.
Do you like these people? Are you comfortable having them as guests in your home? Would they make good friends? If not, don't give them your dog. Trust your instincts. If something about them doesn't seem quite right, even if you can't explain what it is, don't take a chance on your dog's future. Wait for another family!
Step 6 - Saying Goodbye
After the interviews are over, give the new family a day or two to decide if they really want to adopt your dog. Make sure they have a chance to think over the commitment they're making. While they're deciding, get a package ready to send along with your dog. This package should include:
- your dog's medical records and the name, address & phone number of your vet.
- your name, address & phone (new address if you're moving)
- your dog's toys and belongings (dog bed, blanket, etc.), a supply of dog food & special treats he loves
- an instruction sheet on feeding, special needs, etc.; some reading material about the White Swiss Shepherd White Swiss Shepherd breed.
- collar and leash; ID and vaccination certificates
Set aside a special time for you and your dog to take a last walk together and say goodbye. We know you'll cry. Do it now, in private, so you're clear headed when he has to leave. He may be confused about being left with strangers and you won't want your emotions to upset him even more.
There are some things you need to explain to the new family before they take your dog home: The dog will go through an adjustment period as he gets to know his new people, learns new rules and mourns the loss of his old family. Most dogs adjust within a few days, but others may take longer. During this time, they should avoid forcing the dog to do anything stressful - taking a bath, obedience training classes, meeting too many strangers at once, etc. - until he's had a chance to settle in. Tell them take things easy at first and give the dog time to bond to them. The dog might not eat for the first day or two. Not to worry - he'll eat when he's ready. Some dogs temporarily forget their training. A well-housebroken dog may have an accident during the first day in his new home. This isn't unusual and rarely happens more than once.
Step 7 – Paperwork (Optional)
Have the new owner sign an adoption contract with a waiver of liability. We've included a sample contract you can use. Keep a copy for your records. A contract will help to protect the dog and the waiver of liability helps to protect you. You don't have a crystal ball to predict what your dog might do in the future. Remember - a waiver of liability will not protect you if you have lied or misrepresented the dog to his new owners.
Tell the family they should call you if the adoption doesn't work out. Let them know you want to keep in touch and will call them in a few days to see how things are going. Tell them to call you if they have questions or problems. Be willing to take the dog back home if things don't work out the way you both expected.
SAMPLE ADOPTION CONTRACT:
Address: _____________________________________Phone: ____________________
Former Owner's Name: _____________________________
Address: _____________________________________Phone: ____________________
Dog's Name: ________________ Breed: _____________ Age:________ Sex:____ Color:______
Date of last Vet Check-up_________ Vaccination_______ Worming________
Next vaccinations & Worming will be needed:_____________
To the best of my (former owner) knowledge, this dog has no defects that would make it unsuitable as a family pet. I certify that this dog has never bitten or injured anyone.
I (adopter) understand and agree to the following terms of this contract and understand that non- compliance with the terms of this agreement gives the adopting agent/former owner the right to reclaim this dog without refund of adoption fee.
- an adoption fee of $_________ will be collected at the time of adoption.
- This dog shall be kept and cared for as a family pet in a humane manner and given appropriate shelter and medical care for the duration of its life.
- I agree to abide by all state and local animal control and leash laws. I understand it is my responsibility to become familiar with these laws.
- I understand that ________( former owner/agent) ______makes no guarantees or warranties regarding the health or temperament of this dog. I agree to adopt this dog and to be solely responsible for this animal and any damages that may result from its actions. ___________ (former owner/agent) _____ shall not be held liable for the behaviour of this dog or any damages it may cause. I understand that this a binding contract enforceable by civil law.
Date of adoption: _____________________
Former Owner's Signature
We wish to acknowledge that this article has been adapted from an article written by the Chow Club, Inc.'s Welfare Committee with their permission.