Our rescue program has from the very beginning been affiliated with Seattle Purebred Dog Rescue, an all-breed rescue organization which provides us with liability insurance and many support services. Labs come in to our Rescue program in two ways.
- Stray Labs who have been turned into Puget Sound area shelters are held by animal control for three days, not counting the day of impound or any days the shelter is closed. If not redeemed by their owners, the dogs are then made available for adoption. At this point, we can refer potential adopters (from our list of approved SPDR adopters) directly to the shelter to adopt the Lab. If a purebred Lab is not placed right from the shelter, we can rescue the dog and put him/her in one of our foster homes while we look for a new home. Usually, the younger Labs are adopted right from the shelter, and the ones in need of foster care are the older dogs.
- Owners who want to release their Lab for adoption can "list" the dog through Seattle Purebred Dog Rescue. We then try to match the Lab with one of the families from our waiting list. Families wanting to adopt a rescued Lab must fill out an adoption application with
SPDR (206-654-1117 or www.spdrdogs.org).
If you find a stray Lab, or are contacted by someone who has found a stray Lab, here is what to do:
- Turn the Lab in to the appropriate animal control. This is the best way for an owner to be reunited with a lost dog. The shelter will keep the dog for an official "stray hold", after which the dog can legally be placed in a new home, either by the shelter or by our Rescue program. Let our chairperson know that a Lab has been turned in to a shelter so that our Rescue committee can keep tabs on the dog: Contact our Chairperson. Most shelters will allow the finder to reclaim the dog after the stray hold is up (usually 3 to 5 days) and the dog can then be legally placed in a new home.
- If you (or anyone else who has found a Lab) do not want to take the dog to the local animal control, the finder of the dog MUST keep the dog for a minimum of *30* days while making a good faith effort to find the owner.
- This means posting signs in the area where the dog was found
- Putting "found" ads in local newspapers
- Notifying animal control that you have the dog.
- Take the dog to be scanned for a microchip at a shelter or vet.
Keep proof of your efforts! A "found" dog cannot legally be placed in a new home until the above requirements have been met. Our Rescue program does not have the resources to foster "found" Labs for 30 days, so the finder of the dog needs to be willing to make this effort. After the 30 day waiting period, we would be happy to help look for a new home
Because of the high number of purebred Labs in need of rescue in our area each year, and because we are affiliated with Seattle Purebred Dog Rescue, we have limited our Rescue program to the Puget Sound area. However, we welcome PSLRA members who live outside of the Puget Sound area to apply to the Rescue program for financial support for their individual rescue efforts.
Way back in 1991, a Lab subsequently named "Bones" was rescued from the Kent Shelter and the PSLRA rescue program was begun! Mary Jane Sarbaugh, with Jill Mahoney checking the Kent shelter for Labs in need, oversaw the rescue of as many Labs as possible that first year, fostering many of them herself. In those days, every Lab rescued from the shelter was a major victory!
From this modest beginning, the rescue program took off in a hurry! At that time, few Labs were being rescued from the area shelters - even healthy, adoptable Labs were routinely euthanized. Once our rescue program got into full swing, however, that grim situation was radically altered. By 1994, working closely with Seattle Purebred Dog Rescue and with the cooperation of the area shelters, 210 shelter Labs had found new homes and only 25 were euthanized. In 1995, 260 Labs survived their stay in a shelter, and only 12 were euthanized, all due to poor health or serious injuries.
Although during these and the following years about hale of the rescued Labs went directly to new homes from the shelters (often by adopters that we had referred to a particular dog), we still had a huge number of dogs in need of foster care. This put a great burden on our foster home system, with many foster homes welcoming rescued Labs with scarcely a break. We were becoming overwhelmed by our own success!
By 1998, it became clear that the rescue program had grown beyond the abilities of one chairperson to handle, and we reorganized as the current Rescue Committee, spreading the work of rescue over many more hands. At about the same time, we started to see a welcome trend: our statistics started to show fewer shelter Labs in need of rescue, relieving some of the burden on our foster homes.
This trend has continued, we are happy to say, with the total number of Labs reported in the area shelters falling from 271 in 1998 to just 112 in 2003. We think that part of this drop is due to the public education efforts of both PSLRA and SPDR. There has been a corresponding annual increase in the number of owned Labs "listed" with us through SPDR and we have helped many owners find new homes for their Labs in this way, keeping the dogs out of a shelter situation.
Most of the Labs placed through our rescue program in recent years in addition to these "listed" dogs have been older dogs (7+ years), those with special placement needs (separation anxiety is often seen in rescued dogs), and those who have come into shelters with serious injuries. We are grateful to LABMED and Labrador Life Line for providing supplemental funding for those Labs in need of emergency medical treatment while our rescue program was getting started. Due to the astounding success of PSLRA in raising funds for rescue, in recent years we have not needed to call on these organizations for help and in fact were able to provide some financial support to LABMED when their applications for assistance became overwhelming. Some of our rescue funds also went to help a Lab club on the east coast when their rescue program suddenly needed to take in dozens of Labs from a puppy mill closure.
PSLRA is one of the few breed clubs in this area that whole-heartedly supports a rescue program and we are often help us as a model as to what CAN be done with a rescue program that is underwritten by a breed club. Helping our rescue program financially by buying raffle tickets and making donations is not the only way club members can support our rescue efforts, though. We need every member to continue to educate puppy buyers about responsible pet ownership. Every pet puppy sold with a spay/neuter contract helps to prevent any careless breeding in future generations! And all club members can help with educating the general public about responsible breeding practices. Please continue to take the time to explain, whenever you can, why it is not a good idea to let a pet Lab have "just one litter" and why both male and female pet Labs will be happier and healthier if neutered or spayed as early as possible. Working together, we can help to see that our rescue statistics continue their healthy decline in the years to come!