We wrote this for our volunteers but I thought that it might also help other people understand what most rescue groups are up against and why we are sometimes unable to help. Of course I'm sure someone will still find fault in the way we operate our programs but we do the best we can with what we have to work with.

I encourage everyone to get involved - join a group or start your own rescue group. If you feel strongly about how things should be done - get in there, roll up your sleeves and be prepared to get dirty.

Rescue work is not fun and we don't do it to feel good - we do it because:
in our area there is a great, un-met need,
no one else will,
and because the guilt of not doing this work is far greater than the pain of doing it.
We are compelled to do this work by our hearts and souls.
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We've received questions from many of our new volunteers about our process and how we make decisions regarding intake.

The info below gives you a little behind the scenes glimpse of what we're up against in Lab Rescue and takes you step by step thru our process.

Disclaimer: The information and statistics provided are the cold hard facts and not sugar-coated in any way.

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The number of labs in need on any given day – right here in our area – is staggering. In any given week, there are 30 to 40 or more labs and lab mixes in the Houston area shelters. Our group was the first Lab rescue in this area – and our founders, having been involved in rescue prior to this, knew that we would not be able to save them all. STLRR was formed to save the few that we could and provide them with quality foster care, veterinary care and the best possible chance at a quality forever home. Our commitment to these dogs is to do everything possible to make sure they have a good life in a home that will hopefully be their last.

Some rescue groups have a goal to save dogs from shelters, move dogs, and generally put them with whoever wants them with little advance screening. We are thankful for all of the rescue groups out there. However, we believe that it is better for us to provide a great deal of advance screening and to try to make sure that the adopters have really thought through their decisions, are ready for a dog, and have a good match with the particular dog, so that the dog will not come back to us or end up back in the shelter. Many of our foster homes would not be comfortable putting their foster dog in a home where the dog will get little or no human contact, will be banished to the back yard, or otherwise might not be in a safe and secure situation. Our founders have seen what it looks like for a dog to spend five or ten or fifteen years in a cement run with little to no human interaction and we do not believe this is in the best interest for dogs, and particular for human-oriented Labradors. For this reason, quality, not quantity, is our goal. We truly wish that we could help all of the labs in the shelter, but we do not have enough resources to do so. Therefore, we do all we can for those we can.

Any of you involved in our adoption process know exactly how carefully we screen each application and adoptive family. We check vet & personal references, conduct a home visit and spend a good deal of time getting a feel for what the adopters can handle and which dog might be a good match for each family. Even with this very selective and careful process – from time to time we still hear about dogs that either need to be returned to us (these are the lucky ones) or dogs that are once again in need at the shelter.

We also endeavor to keep the dogs in our program safe and well cared for, so the dogs currently in our program are always our first priority.

Each week we evaluate our program. We review: (using this week’s info)
the # of dogs we currently have in foster care, 21
the # of dogs we have boarding, 8
the balances owned to our vet clinic partners, $5807.82
the amounts needing to be paid in full to vet clinics and boarding kennels (this month only), $1143.50
the balances for boarding at the few kennels that allow us to carry a balance, $2676.32
the future expenses coming up in the next few weeks (Misc vet expenses inlc hw tmt) $600
the # of sick dogs in the program or dogs with special veterinary needs that will incur extra expenses, 4
the # of dogs that need to be altered, 2
the # of dogs that are waiting for heartworm treatment ($190 - $250 if healthy enough for standard trmt) 10
the # of hw positive dogs that may require split treatment due to health or age ($300-400) 4

Weigh it all against the funds we have coming in from adoptions and donations $1750.00 -$2000 (3 adopt fees and estimated donations)

and determine if we can help any dogs this week.

Given these #’s we really can’t afford to board any additional dogs right now.
1 month of boarding expense per dog runs us between $210 to $300
Two of the kennels we use have recently raised their rates. Fondren’s rate will increase to $10/day effective 3/1/07.

Sadly there are many weeks that we cannot help and we turn away pure-bred labs nearly every day.

We receive at least 1 plea for help each day from an owners wanting to surrender their dogs or good Samaritan’s who have found dogs and some days we’ve received as many as 7. Today I’ve received 5 and yesterday I received 4.

Every one of the places listed on the next page is a kill facility. In the best case scenario stray dogs have 3 business days to be reclaimed by their owners and can be euthanized on day 4 if the shelter is over crowded. Dogs that are surrendered by their owners can and are often euthanized immediately because the facility is required to hold the strays and must make space for them first. Some of these facilities do not have adoption programs at all so if the dog is not reclaimed – there is no way out except for rescue groups.

When we do have an open foster space or we can afford some extra boarding costs – then the choices become more difficult. Imagine if you had 1 or even 2 spaces to fill – following is today’s list (2/2/07) of labs in our area. This list is not all inclusive – there are other facilities that we do not have data for at this time. It is not easy for any of us to make these choices and pick the 2 lucky dogs out of this bunch. Often you are given only a photo and some very basic info, like estimated age and have to decide, sometimes within a few hours – if you can save a specific dog. Most of these facilities are great at trying to work with us and if we can save a dog but can’t get to it right away – most of them will hold the dog for a day or two. But once you ask for this favor – we are committed and must pull the dog. The animal control officers, the ones having to do the most difficult job in rescue – try not to become attached to the dogs they encounter everyday. But once we ask them to hold one – they know that that dog is going to be saved and they no longer have to hold that dog at arms length – they can pet him, rub him behind the ear and give him a little bit of affection. In many cases another dog is selected for euthanasia that day to leave enough room to hold our dog. Now imagine if we decide not to pull the dog. These same animal control officers that let their guard down are the ones that will have to take this dog to the end of the line.

Saving the dog is the easy part. What happens next, this is the real challenge.
Where do we put them, how do we pay for them, who will take the dog from boarding when they get sick, who will help us pay their expenses if they require boarding for more than just a few months?
Each month we struggle with this, trying to determine if it is responsible and appropriate for our program to spend thousands of dollars on boarding when some of our dogs in foster homes are still waiting for heartworm treatment.

Shelter Males Females Color

BARC 6 6 Black
2 2 Yellow
HCAC 1 Black
2 Yellow
1 Chocolate
MCAC 2 1 Black
1 6 Yellow
2 Chocolate
PCAC 1 1 Black
2 Yellow
2 Chocolate
SPCA M 1 Black
Brazoria 0
Angleton 1 Black
Brazoria Sherrif's 1 Black
Bay City Impound 0
Bay City AC 0
Deer Park 0
LaGrange 1 Black
1 Yellow
LaPorte 1 Black
Pearland 1 Black
1 Chocolate
Sugarland 0
Texas City 1 Black
2 Yellow
1 Yellow
Webster 0
TOTAL 29 21 Total 50