The majority of the dogs we rescue are from puppymills but we also pull from shelters and when we have the foster space will take owner surrenders. First let's talk a bit about puppy mill survivors.
Puppy mill survivors are different from shelter dogs and owner surrenders. Most are more shy, need housetraining, and are experiencing everything for the first time in their lives. It takes patience, love and understanding, but the rewards are unexplainable. To watch one of these survivors run and play for the first time is like watching a baby walk for their first time. To finally get a little kiss brings tears to your eyes and also a sense of pride watching their accomplishments.
Most will be very scared at first then become totally dependent on you. They may become attached to just one person in the home and become their protector. Some will be food or toy aggressive. Living in a mill many had to fight for their food. Weaker ones sat back until they could get a chance to sneak over to get a small morsel of food to eat. Many survived on their own feces or the feces of their puppies while they were still with them.
Many have a fear of crates or cages -reminders of their past life. Others may try to hide in their crates since it is their "safe house". Many have lost their teeth due to years of neglect. Those with some teeth left may need more frequent dentals than most dogs. They may have heart conditions from the years of tooth decay. Some develop joint problems because of years of being inactive in a cage.
They will be experiencing and learning many new things:
Housetraining, walking on a leash, knowing they will never be hungry again, experiencing a soft bed to lay their head, walking in the grass for the first time, playing with a toy and most of all that a human touch will not hurt them again.
The first time they experience many of these things may be frightening for some. But with each experience grows confidence just like a baby taking it's first steps. And with confidence, many can accomplish so much more. To sit and watch a puppymill survivor play for the first time and to receive that first doggie kiss brings tears of joy to your eyes like a proud parent. You know that the weeks, months of patience has helped a little survivor know the meaning of love.
We do prefer that our foster homes to have a completely fenced yard so that these little ones have the freedom to run and play safely. Some dogs however, will be fine with an exercise pen. These puppy mill survivors have never been on a leash in their life so this is why we prefer a fenced yard or xpen. They are going to try to squirm and pull to get 'that thing' off of them and if they do, the dog will be gone in a flash.
We also look for someone that doesn't have a busy lifestyle because many of these dogs need human companionship to help them overcome their fears. Families that are gone 8-9 hours a day would not be able to give these little ones the socialization that they need to overcome some of their fears and teach them house training. Remember these dogs lived in cages all their lives so are used to going potty whenever the urge hits them. They need a schedule so that they learn when and where they are to potty at. Another dog in the home for them to buddy up with would be great. Many times they will learn by watching another dog in the home. It also gives them a little company while you are away from the home.
We ask each foster home to teach them to walk on a leash and harness. These are provided for you. Trips in cars are to be in crates only. No exceptions. This is for their safety.
Shelter and owner surrender dogs are a little different because they have already been in a home situation. Some, as we all know, are from families that are no longer able to keep their pet. Some are strays where we know nothing about their background. Most have already been familiar with a leash so a fenced yard is not needed for them. All fosters though are never permitted to run free unless they are in a securely fenced yard.
Some are good with children and we will note that so that we can place them in the appropriate foster home as well as permanent home. Same with dogs and cats.
Each new dog that we take in are isolated for a minimum of 2 weeks to make sure that they don't have anything contagious. They are brought up to date on vaccinations and wormed for parasites. They are seen by one of our vets and spayed/neutered, heartworm tested and if needed a dental cleaning is done.
All dogs are completely vetted before they will reach your home. We will get to know them a little better during that time so that we can help you make the decision as to which foster dog would work best in your home.
The time period for fostering varies.
Some will be with you for just a short period. The younger ones usually get adopted quickly.. maybe just a few weeks while the older ones may be with you for a few months.
Permanent fosters are those that we feel will not be adopted. You basically keep the dog for the rest of their life and we continue to pay for their vet care and medicine.
We also need emergency foster homes. These will help when we need some to hold onto the dog for a few hours or a few days until we can get them to one of our foster homes.
Foster homes may adopt their foster after they have given them at least 2 weeks to adjust to their home. Most of the time it takes a period for them to become comfortable and you both learn about each other. Please let us know asap after this time period is up since we do have others that will be interested in adopting.
Your foster will have been started on a raw diet and we encourage you to continue it for their health but understand if that is not possible. We do ask then that you feed a premimum quality grain free diet. At times we are able to provide food for your foster dog. Just ask us what we have available.
Applications for your foster are online. No fosters are to have a meet and greet until we have an approved application. Our processor will check their references and then contact you to get your thoughts and have you get in touch with the potential adopter. Then the home visit to make sure your foster fits in with their lifestyle and home life.
If you think this might be something you would like to do please click on the link below to fill out our foster application
Click on the link below for some examples of what you can expect fostering a mill dog as well as those that adopt a mill dog. Please remember that not all puppy mill survivors are alike. Some are very scared yet others adapt in the home really fast.
Rehabilitation of a Puppy Mill Dog
If this sounds like something you would be interested in doing .....
Please fill out our online foster application and one of our coordinators will be in contact with you.