Advertising the Rescued Dog to Potential Adopters

Once Rescue has a rescued dog in foster care and that dog has been evaluated, spayed / neutered, etc , it is time to begin advertising his availability to potential adopters. It's a good idea for a Rescue program to have some continuing advertisment to make its presence known to the general pool of those who might be potential adopters and to those who might be contemplating getting rid of their dog (so they bring it to Rescue instead of dumping it in the Pound). Such ongoing advertising can enable you to accumulate a pool of "waiting homes" that have contacted you before a dog becomes available.
Once again, the Internet through Web sites and e-mail functions has made this job so much easier than it used to be.



by Pam Green © 1996, updated 2003

(Note : I first wrote this article in 1996, and in the 7 years since then the use of Web sites and e-mail lists has become increasingly easy to use and increasingly important. Thanks to several of the dedicated Bouvier Web site sponsors, nowadays most potential adopters have found out about and have contacted me or the Rescue Chairperson of BCNC about adopting. Since 95% of these potential adopters do have e-mail , it's is easy for us to update them about each newly rescued dog. It's also easy to update that information on various Web sites.)

(note: though written as a guide to Bouvier rescuers, this same approach can be modified to suit other breeds.)

OK, you, or the Rescue group to which you belong, have just taken in a new rescue dog. It's time to start thinking about advertising the dog's availability for adoption. Or maybe your group wants to be more proactive and have an on-going advertisment program. by "advertising" , I mean "getting the information out to those who may interested." I do NOT mean "advertising" as in "selling a product" or as in "making people believe they have an urgent need for something you urgently need to sell, usually something they have absolutely no real inherrent need for ."

Usually before you advertise a particular dog as being available for adoption, you would have already evaluated the dog, spayed/neutered it and gotten its Rabies & DHLPP shots, and otherwise made the dog ready for adoption. If possible, the dog should have been housebroken and taught basic housedog manners and the lifesaver commands "Come" and "Down". You could begin advertising earlier than this, but the dog will not actually be ready to be placed until these things have been accomplished.)

The FIRST person you should contact is THE DOG'S BREEDER (if known). You might do this as soon as you receive the dog, even before it is spayed/neutered, as the breeder may want to take over immediately and take full responsibility. If you are receiving the dog as an owner surrender always be sure to ask who the breeder is and ask if they have kept any of the documentation that came with the dog when they obtained it. If the breeder is an ethical responsible breeder he or she will be diligent in helping you to place the dog. Responsible and reputable breeders maintain waiting lists of responsible homes wanting an adult or teenager rather than a young pup. Please let me know how your breeder responds to your request for help and please also report to the regional Bouvier Club to which the breeder belongs (or should belong) and to the national American Bouver des Flandres Club (ABDFC). If your rescued dog is an older Bouv, ie 5 years old or older, be sure to ask the breeder for information on the longevity of the parents and grandparents. If parents and grandparents enjoyed a longer lifespan, it would indicate that this dog too is likely to enjoy a longer lifespan. Bouvier (that are genetically sound and that receive good health care) normally live to be 10 to 13 years old, with some living less than this and some more. (A few lucky ones live to be 15 or more.) There is of course no sure prediction how long an individual will live.

Also be sure to ask YOUR VET for help in placement. At the very least, your vet should permit you to place an adoption notice on the waiting room bulletin board. He/she may also be willing to mention the availability of this dog to any clients who are seeking dogs of this type -- eg possibly those whose old dog died a few months back? I also often post information about rescued dogs at the UCD Vet School's Veternary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH) in the client waiting room. I sometimes ask former adopters to post notices at their own vets' offices. Also you might want to ask your vet for a brief letter describing the dog's overall condition of health, the fact that he/she is spayed/neutered and current on shots, current heartworm status, etc. If you can contact the dog's previous vet(s) (if known to you), try to make arrangements for the adopter to obtain full health history or have records transferred toyour vet and then to the adopter's vet. If your rescued Bouv is 5 years or older, it is especially important that prospective adopters be able to assure themselves that he/she is in good health; some may wish to talk to the vet directly.

(It is absolutely essential that you have your rescued dog SPAYED / NEUTERED , be currently IMMUNIZED against rabies and distemper, leptospirosis, hepatitis, parainfluenza and parvo (DHLPP), and be tested negative for heartworm and currently maintained on a HEARTWORM PREVENTION program. All this must be done before you can place the dog. Spaying / neutering is utterly essential to prevent the new owner from breeding one or more litters of irresponsibly bred and sold puppies , many of which would be at serious risk of eventually being abandoned into the Pound. The responsible adopter will be delighted that the dog is already "fixed" and will cheerfully comply with your request for an adoption fee to cover expenses of same. The only "adopter" who will be unwilling to take a spayed/neutered dog is the phony adopter who fully intends to turn the dog into a puppy factory.)

It is essential that your Rescue organization make its existance and mission statement , as well as names and phone numbers of key personel, known to as many of the Pounds and Shelters in the region you cover as possible. Most of the time when they contact you of course it will be because they have taken in a dog they think is of your breed that they hope you will bail out immeadiately if not sooner. If they know how to contact you, especially if they have a phone number of someone who is local to them, they are far more likely to give you an oppertunity to bail the dog out before they KILL the dog. Some will give you only short notice, but some are wising up and giving more advance notice. some Pounds will also try to get people who bring in a dog to be surrendered to instead contact an appropriate Breed Rescue (or Mix Breed Rescue or All Breed Rescue) in order to give the dog the far better hope of survival and adoption that such a Rescue can provide -- and of courze it would be one less dog intake to further increase the Pound's burden and accellerate its KILL schedule. If a dog is going to wind up in your Rescue program, it is actually better for you to receive the dog directly from its surrendering owner, and thus get some information and history along with the dog and get the oppertunity to educate the owner (which may mean discouraging further dog ownership), than to hav the dog be dumped at the Pound where you at best will get no information iwth it and at worst where you will never hear abut it at all and it will be KILLED. And there will be glorious occasions when a Pound or Shelter will refer a potential adopter to you, because some potential adopters do ask for such referrals. These usually turn out to be good adopters, with above average compassion for the dog.

It is essential for anyone who does breed rescue on a continuing basis to become listed on any RESCUER LISTS that may exist for their region. Here in N Calif, the most widely used such list is the OHLONE LIST, which lists animal rescuers by species and breed and which is widely distributed throughout Northern Calif, especially to Pounds & Shelters, vets , trainers, groomers. Many people who inquire at a Pound or Shelter or vet or groomer, etc, for a dog of a particular breed will recieve a referral to those persons listed for that breed on the Ohlone List. To be listed, you must contact the list manager Nancy Lyon at (510) 792-0927 or by e-mail at or write to the Ohlone Humane Society at Suite 108, P O Box 5118, Fremont, CA 94537. In S Calif , the equivalent list is the H.A.R.T./Muttmatchers List. To inquire about this list , write to HART, PO Box 920, Fillmore, Ca 93016 or phone them at (805) 524-4542.

Notify the Rescue chairperson of your regional Breed Club as well as any "independants" in your area. I used to notify the Southern California Bouvier des Flandres Club (SCBDFC) to get information about the dog into the club's monthly newsletter. , even though I live in the Sacramento area, ie about 400 to 500 miles north of most of the SCBDFC membership; but in those days we did not have a Northern Calif club. I also notified a few people all over the state who , like me, were opperating as Rescuers independant of any club support. Now for the last 5 or 6 years we have had a wonderful Bouvier Club of Nothern California (BCNC) with a very active Rescue program, of which I am a member and so am working within that program. So now my first phone call or e-mail about a new dog or one I expect to be recieving is to the BCNC Rescue Committee and our principal foster homes.

Likewise notify the Rescue Chairperson of your breed's National Rescue or National Breed Club, if any. For Bouviers, that would be the American Bouvier Rescue League (ABRL). Currently ABRL's directors are Marcia Proud (770) 358-6288 and and Dale Cuddy (978) 948-7039 and . the website is and the quarterly ABRL Rescue Roundup editor is Deborah Abeles at (413) 743-4084 and .

The most productive place to ADVERTISE is "on line" ie ON THE INTERNET by placing a post to the Bouvier e-mail list at . Announcements of Bouvs available for adoption usually get good response -- and the cost is negligible (upload/download). Be sure your post includes your phone number and mailing address so those on the list can know where the dog is and those not on list can also respond. I'd advise subscribing to the list to ensure that you recieve any responses which get posted to the list. To join, send the following 2 line message to the address < > : 1st line = "subscribe bouvier" ; 2nd line = "end" -- but don't include the " " marks. If you have trouble, send a message asking for help to the list manager Len Gaska at . He's a wonderful person who is devoted to Bouvs.

(Update : in the years since 1996, there have been some other Bouvier e-mail lists added that could also be helpful. I still find Len's list to be the most helpful, and Len has been very diligent about adding information about dogs available to the Adoption section of his own site , which also has an adopter's questionaire which goes out to a number of Rescue folk accross the country.)

Nowadays most regional clubs and national clubs have a Web site with a section devoted to dogs available for adoption. Most regional bouv clubs have a site and so does ABRL (American Bouvier Rescue League), the rescue arm of the national club ABDFC (information given above). Get at least a text description of the dog, its age, sex , personality, etc onto the club site as soon as possible. The description can be expanded later when the dog has been in foster care long enough that the foster home has a good idea of the dog's personality and behavior. Information to include would be age and sex ("spayed F", "neut M", "will be spayed before placement", "about to be neutered"), plus additional information such as "housedog", "well behaved" , "good health" , "gentle with kids" or similar brief descriptions of good points, plus perhaps indication of any serious problems such as "hates cats", "fights male dogs", etc. Ideally a photo can help capture people's interest but it is not essential. The best adopters care a lot abut the dog's personality and behavior and only slightly or not at all about his appearance. Besides, getting a good photo of a Bouvier is not so easy.

An antiquated but not obsolete method is the local newspaper.

In my first few years as a rescuer (in the late 1980s) , I got some very good homes from simple newspaper classified ads : "Bouvier Rescue offers good dogs to responsible homes. $150. (###) ###-####". However for the past several years, I have not found it nescessary to advertise in the newspapers because of my presence on the Ohlone List, my presence on the Internet , and my acquisition of a reputation within the Bouv community, resulting in a lot of referrals. Just abut anyone who is smart enough and resourceful enough to live with a bouvier is easily able to find me if they put a modest effort into doing so. Thus the ones who find me and contact me constitute a pool of "waiting homes" that are likely to make good homes for an adopted dog.

While I don;'t think it is a particularly good method to use nowadays, when the Internet is so ubiquitous, you might wish to place a classified ad in the Pets or Dogs column of your areas major newspaper. (For the San Francisco Bay Area, I understand that the San Jose paper gets good response and is less expensive than the SF Chronicle. However I've also been told that an ad in the Chronicle will get great results.) ABSOLUTELY DO NOT OFFER HIM/HER "FREE" !!!!! Ads for "free" dogs attract people with an "easy come, easy go" attitude who will abandon the dog at the first problem or first major vet bill, people who are unprepared for the substantial feeding expense for a large dog, people who want a cheap toy for the kiddies to play with until they get bored with it, people who want a cheap alarm system to chain up in the back yard and neglect physically and emotionally. "Free" ads also attract those who intend to make some quick bucks by reselling the dog to a research lab or similar nasty fate. So be absolutely sure to INCLUDE AN ADOPTION FEE in the ad. In 1996, I was recommending an absolute minimum of $100, and my own standard adoption fee for the past several years (prior to 1996) had been $150 (= cost of spay plus shots or = cost of 3 months food). UPDATE : BCNC's curent fee in 2003 is $225 and that is really way too low : doesn't really cover basic costs and is too low realtive to costs of owning a dog. Many rescuers recommend a fee of aproximately one third whatever respectable breeders in your community charge for a puppy. Run the ad for 10 days, covering two consecutive weekends. Be prepared for a range of responses, ranging from those who are very experienced with Bouviers to those who have no idea at all about them or even those who have an entierly mistaken idea about them. Some of the calls will come from absolute "flakes" but others will come from really wonderful loving and responsible homes. To sort these out, you will need to become skilled at interviewing.

The same considerations of adoption fees apply to all forms of advertisment of your rescued dogs' availability for adoption. In the case of a club web site, there is usually a page on the club's adoption policies that includes statement of the adoption fee. It is also perfectly appropriate to save the discussion of adoption fee until your first phone conversation or e-mail response to an applying adopter. Today's adopters generally know that there will be some kind of an adoption fee. I would state it fairly early in the process of advertising or interviewing so that those who are not prepared to make a financial commitment to a pet's welfare, or those who don't understand that a pet requires on-going expenditures, will weed themselves out. I do recommend that it always be included in any newspaper ad because the need to weed out the merely curious or the non-committing is so great when the media is going out to the masses. The Internet audience is usually better educated than the newspaper audience.


Once again, I would suggest that in today's (mid 2003) situation, there is little need to use the newspapers. It makes more sense to get the news out via e-mail lists and Web sites , as well as being on any regional Rescuer Lists such as the Ohlone List described above. It is also crucial to let your local Pounds and Shelters know about your Rescue's existance and readyness to bail out dogs. Today's clued in and Internet savvy population will find you. By finding you , they have already passed a minor weed out process that excludes the least intelligent and least diligent.

What's the next step ?

As to what to do when calls start coming in from potential adopters, please see my article How to Interview Prospective Adopters


Related topics :

site author Pam Green copyright 2003
created 1996 revised7/16/03
return to top of page return to Site Index