I think it is vital to understand what the people at rescue centres in different places around the world do and how they do it. We all know why they undertake rescues of course, because there are many furs in need of help through no fault of their own. So, I decided to ask my friends Gracie the Beagle and Roscoe the Basset Hound if I could woof with their mum who is the Adoption Co-ordinator for New England Basset Hound Rescue. This is the discussion we had. I think you will find it interesting and hopefully will give us all a better insight as to the difficulties and the triumphs encountered in rescuing furs.
Please can I ask you to tell us what you do within NEBHR and how NEBHR helps to rescue Bassets?
I am the adoption coordinator for New England Basset Hound Rescue. I also take care of the rescue’s Facebook page and make sure the web site is kept up to date. I started off nearly 3.5 years ago as the social media coordinator and then in October of 2018 we needed an adoptions person. I took up the post straight away. Our rescue covers the New England states, which are Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island and Connecticut. We are a non-profit and run solely on donations. We have no state funding, but donations to us are tax deductible in the U.S. Those of us involved in the rescue are all volunteers. We joke that the only one one who gets paid is Roscoe because he gets treats when he poses for pictures to use on the rescue’s Facebook page. Oh, and the reason we do it is because we are all crazy about basset hounds. We are the only basset rescue that is based in New England, although there are some other basset rescues in other parts of the country that will have dogs transported to adopters in New England. Okay, so now on to the process…
Bassets and Basset mixes come into our rescue for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes they’re found running loose as strays. Other times we get contacted by animal control officers who have held them but no one came to claim them. On some occasions they’ve been set loose to fend for themselves by bad breeders or by hunters who have decided they’re not worth their keep. Then there are times when owners turn them over due to changes in life situations like they’ve lost their job and their home, and they aren’t allowed to have pets where they’re moving to, or we’ve even had somebody turn their dogs over to us because he was about to go to jail. Next there are those who want to get a new puppy so they dump their older dog, those who get into relationships with someone who doesn’t like their dog so rather than dumping the boyfriend, they dump the dog, people having a baby and “won’t have time for the dog”… The excuses are endless, and rarely do we get the full truth in the story of why someone decides to turn their dog over to rescue or leave them at a shelter. There are also times of sadness when the owner dies unexpectedly and the family can’t take the dogs, so they turn to us for help. And finally there are those who get the cute basset puppies and a few months later turn them over because they found out that it’s a lot of work to raise a puppy. Any puppy is work, but we all know hound pups are extra special and thus require extra work in training, etc.
So once our intake person gets the information about the dog, our fostering volunteer goes to work right away to find a foster home to agree to take the dog into fosterers home. Depending on the distance between the dog and the foster home, one of the board members or one of our volunteers will go and pick the dog up from the original owner, animal control officer, shelter, whatever the case may be, and drive the dog to the foster. I’ve done surrenders, and it’s not fun and sometimes scary. The foster takes the dog into their home and take care of him or her as if they were members of their family. They take them to a vet soon after their arrival at the foster home so that we can make sure the dog is up to date on all of the required immunisations and make sure that if there are any health concerns, we can evaluate them and get started as soon as possible with any treatment needed. We see a lot of skin issues, malnourishment and obesity, a large number of eye problems (which bassets are prone to), arthritis (again which bassets are prone to), spays and neuters and sadly a lot of the dogs come into care testing positive for heartworm. This can be treated, but it is really uncomfortable and hard on the dog during treatment because they have to be kept in a very calm and quiet environment.
Besides getting the dogs healthy, fosters also work on training issues if possible, as they are best placed to evaluate the dogs’ personalities and behaviour. This helps me, as the adoptions person, to have a better idea of which potential adopters would be the best matches for the individual dogs. Our goal is to place dogs in what, we hope, will be their forever home. We do our best to place them where they are most likely to stay and not come back to us. A dog stays with the foster family until he or she is ready to go on to their forever family, which could be anywhere from 2 weeks to many months. It all depends on what the dog needs in order to get ready to move on to the forever home environment.
Thank you. It sounds like its quite a well oiled machine. What are the procedures that you go through to register, check the details and then help to decide where each dog will go firstly and thereafter forever.
I shall start in adoptions. When an application comes in, I check to make sure that all of the required information is included, and if they’ve left any of the absolutely necessary details out, I email the potential adopters and tell them I won’t process their application further until they provide the necessary information. After I’ve got all the details I need, I will make arrangements to have a phone interview with the applicant. During that phone call, I review the application and ask them questions about anything that concerns or confuses me about their answers on the application. I also like to have them tell me about their past dogs. This gives me a chance to hear in their voice how they really felt about those dogs. We will discuss breed traits, behaviour and health issues, as well as general hound behaviour. I need to make sure that they know what they’re getting into, and that they don’t adopt a basset hound just because they saw a cute picture somewhere. We also discuss points such as whether they have a fenced-in yard or not. For some rescues it’s a deal breaker if they don’t. That’s not the case for NEBHR. However what is a deal breaker will be the potential adopters having an invisible fence or an electric fence of any kind. I would never allow a dog to be adopted by a person who would use one of those or who would use an electric training collar. Never.
We will discuss how many hours a day a dog would be home alone. Some are fine being home alone however some have separation anxiety and suffer when they’re alone for longer than a couple hours at a time. We talk about children as some of the dogs that come into our care have resource guarding issues. A small child can come across to a dog as competition for food, treats, toys or attention, and as a result we can’t place those dogs in homes with small children because it would be setting the dog up for failure. We will cover the things a family is looking for in a dog. Sometimes they want a young energetic dog that can go on hikes and family adventures. Sometimes they want a dog that is more laid back, more of a couch potato. Once the interview is done, the next step is to call their vet’s office and check to make sure that they’re good pet parents and have kept all of their previous animals up to date on their immunizations and other care. I also have to contact their local animal control officer to make sure they do not have a record of animal-related complaints against them, including nuisance to neighbours or dogs roaming free. Lastly I have to find a volunteer who lives somewhere in the vicinity to go and do a home visit on our behalf.
A home visit volunteer visits the house where the dog will live and checks to make sure it’s a safe environment for a basset and make any suggestions. For example, stairs and long spined dogs do not go well together, especially if there is nothing that provides traction on the stairs. It’s really easy for a basset to fall down the stairs if they don’t have traction and this is pretty much a guaranteed back injury or even paralysis. If the house is too cluttered, again this is a difficulty as Bassets are mischievous and get into places they may not necessarily need to.
If the home visit is positive and all the other things have gone well, I can approve them to adopt. I send them a congratulations email and we start looking for a dog that will be a good match for their family. Once the match is made, the foster family and the adopter arrange a meeting, and the new adopter will take the dog home. Sometimes it’s too far to drive for one or the other, so we can call on our transport volunteers to help transport the dog from the foster to the new family. I check in with the new family after the dog has been with them overnight to make sure things are going okay. Sometimes I will be sent a photo of the Basset. It’s a pretty amazing feeling to get a text with a picture of a basset totally taking over a couch and knowing that I just made that happen. That is what makes it all worth it.
Is the “no dog to anyone with an invisible fence” your decision, or the NEBHR or law (state or federal). I am wondering if it is a legal requirement. What percentage of dogs come back to you? Hopefully not large numbers. Do you get transfers from other Basset rescues coming to you, or you to them?
The decision on invisible or electric fence is something that more and more rescues are deciding to have as their policies, but it’s not a law. If it’s a law in any other states, I’m not aware. The problem with invisible or electric fences is that they are ineffective with hounds. As you know, a hound picks up a scent, and they go. Bassets are even better scent hounds than beagles, if you can believe that! They are second only to bloodhounds in scenting ability. They are ineffective at keeping a hound in an area. However if you think about it, surely if you are jolted with electricity on your way out, are you really going to want to return? We have had a few dogs arrive in our care that have been abused with the electric training collars, so these collars are very traumatic to them. We do not get a large percent of dogs that come back to us after we adopt them out. I’ve had 2 come back because in one case the children got too rambunctious and the dog didn’t like it. The parents got nervous the dog would bite. In another case a lady decided she couldn’t deal with training issues of an 8 month old puppy. Sadly sometimes the dogs come back to us after their adopters have passed away. We have a dog in our care currently for that reason. He was adopted in 2017, and the adopter passed away in 2018. We don’t really do many transfers back and forth with other basset rescues. Occasionally we get a call from an all-breed rescue that ends up with a basset and wants our help, and we get calls from animal shelters sometimes when they have bassets come in. We do take dogs from other areas of the country if they can be transported in to us. We are not licensed to transport them in, but we can receive them.
May we turn to the fundraising aspect for the NEBHR. This is clearly a very important aspect so I would like to understand a little more about how the fundraising occurs.
Okay, Dex, we are always, ALWAYS in need of donations, so we try to come up with some small creative ideas throughout the year. We also need to put together our annual fundraising event, Bassetpalooza. This is a great occasion where people come from all over New England with their bassets and spend the day playing games with them, catching up with those of us who helped in their bassets’ rescue efforts, and raise money with raffle baskets. We have our rescue’s little store where we sell New England Basset Hound Rescue merchandise as well as other dog-themed items, and explore what vendors there have to offer. For instance last year, Dunkyn’s mum set up a booth selling her home made dog treats. In addition we do a calendar contest, in which Roscoe has been entered for the last 4 or 5 years. The 12 bassets that bring in the most money through votes get to be the main photos in the following year’s calendar. We do an event-themed t-shirt fundraiser each year and alongside the calendar. Wilbur the Basset’s mum & dad designed the t-shirts for Bassetpalooza 2017. People can come to the event wearing that year’s t-shirt if they like, or have it as a souvenir. We do other things through the year, such as smaller raffles through the Facebook page and a year-end video with a plea for donations. We always remind people that they are tax-deductible. Right now we’re working on a Valentine’s Day fundraiser, where we’ll have photos of the dogs in our care along with links to donate in order to show them some love on Valentine’s Day. We’ve had some of Gracie’s friends from Twitter make things for us to sell at events and in the store. For instance Schroeder’s mom Connie made plastic canvas signs, tissue boxes and luggage tags for us and LilyDoodle’s mom Erin sent us some awesome doggy bandanas that she made.
If you could change the law, what do you think you would change. For instance compulsory micro chipping?
I don’t know really what to say about laws… I mean obviously animal cruelty and neglect laws should be harsher in my opinion, and it would be nice if we had some kind of a registry of animal abuse and neglect perpetrators that we could use as a tool in vetting potential adopters. I just do what I do and try my best to find homes for these deserving dogs where they will get the love and the care they deserve.
I will include a link to the donation page of the website:
General link to the website’s home page is
And our Facebook page is New England Basset Hound Rescue