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An insight into: SURRENDER & INTAKE

Recently we started talking to you about, and giving you an insight into the background work that goes on here at the rescue.

A tonne of work goes on behind the scenes at any rescue, ours included! There’s so much more to rescue than just transporting, training and placing a dog in a new home. Previously, we’ve talked in detail about our rehoming procedures, so today we’re going to discuss surrender and intake and talk you through all the ins and outs and background work which you don’t see here on social media, and just like I said in the rehoming video, every rescue has their own way of doing things, they have their own protocols and procedures and I’m not here today to tell you who is right or wrong, but I am going to talk to you in detail about how WE operate here at Until Every Dog Has A Home.

We’re going to jump right in, so if you don’t already have a cuppa then go grab one and come right back to us.

About us:

OK, so real quick, I’m going to give you a little bit of background about us. We're Until Every Dog

Has A Home, and we're a very small, volunteer ran, non-profit dog rescue. We're not like most rescues as we only intake dogs with severe behavioural issues, and we specialize in working with dogs with aggressive tendencies and dog on human bite histories. For the dogs that we intake, we offer rescue, rehabilitation and re-homing where possible, and for those who are too troubled and don't manage to complete rehab and pass the necessary assessments, we offer lifetime sanctuary here with me which means that they live out life as a part of my family at my home.

What does surrendering your dog mean?

Surrendering a dog means that you are relinquishing your ownership of the dog, including all rights and responsibilities, and giving that ownership to the rescue.

At the time of surrender, the surrendering party sign a legally binding contract which hands over all rights and ownership of the dog to us, or which ever rescue is taking the surrender. After this document is signed by you, you will no longer have any rights or decision-making rights to the dog, and this includes medical, training and rehoming decisions and the dog will not be available to be returned to you at any point should you later change your mind.

Why do people surrender their dogs?

There are a million reasons why someone might choose to surrender their dog to a rescue. Change in circumstance, ill health, lack of compatibility, behavioural issues… the list goes on and, often, the surrender is in the best interests of the dog. A good rescue won’t judge you, or your decision to surrender, but it is important that you tell the rescue the REAL reason why you are surrendering your dog so that they can make the very best decisions going forwards for your dog, and so that they can decide if they are actually the best rescue for your particular dog.

Here at our rescue, the reason for surrender is always the same, and that’s due to ongoing or escalating behavioural issues which the guardian or current rescue can no longer cope with. A lot of dogs which come to us, are actually already within the rescue system but under the care of other rescues who, like surrendering guardians, can’t cope or don’t have the experience or resources to progress the dog through their issues. More often than not, in both guardian and rescue surrenders, these behavioural issues include a dog on human bite history or ongoing aggressive tendencies.

What is the procedure for surrendering?

So how is a dog surrendered? This depends on the individual rescue, and as I said, other rescues may operate slightly differently, but I’ll talk you through how a dog is surrendered to us here at Until Every Dog Has A Home.

So the first step is us having space to accept the surrender of your dog. Sadly, we have to say no to far more dogs than we can say yes to, and this is simply down to space, resources and funding. We are contacted via email, our website and social media, with numerous requests every day for the intake of dogs who have been refused placement elsewhere or who’s euthanasia already has a date, and these requests come from private guardians, rescues and even local dog wardens.

When we do have a space, the first step is having the surrendering party complete a ‘Surrender Request Form’ and send it back to us. This is a short form, which gives us important information to enable us to decide whether or not we are able to accept surrender of the dog, which includes a basic history: How long have you had your dog for? Is the dog, dog friendly, cat friendly, people friendly?, Does the dog have a bite history or any public orders such as leash or muzzle orders, It also asks about the dogs current training and handling levels, their diet and exercise and any medical problems which the dog has.

Once this has been completed and returned to us, we decide whether or not we are able to intake and if so then we contact the surrendering party via email to confirm that we can offer placement and accept surrender of the dog, and to ask for any additional information which we need. At this point we also send out a ‘Surrender Info sheet’ via email to the surrendering party which explains exactly What surrendering your animal means, What to expect on the day of transfer, What items should be sent with your dog which includes; Vaccination Cards & Vet Details, A printout of the dog’s medical records from their vet, If the dog requires medication we ask to ensure that it’s included along with written instructions detailing the Medication name, what it has been by prescribed for, which vet practise it was prescribed by and the dosage, we also ask for the dogs Microchip details, Any other paperwork relating to the dog including details of previous owners, breeders or owning rescues, the dogs favourite Beds, Blankets & Comforters , their Favourite Toys and bowls etc, and the surrender information sheet also gives advise on how to help your dog through this difficult time. The surrendering party are asked to read through this information sheet and then confirm in writing via email, that they have read, understood and agree to its contents and what happens next.

Once we have received confirmation that the surrendering party understand the process, then we arrange a date for hand over. Where it is safe for us to do so and where the dog isn’t in an emergency situation, then we always leave a week to 2 weeks between agreeing to accept surrender and the actual handover date, and we do this not only to give us ample time to prepare for the dogs intake, but importantly, to give the surrendering party time to digest all the information which they’ve been given and be really sure that they want to relinquish ownership of their dog. Surrender is an emotionally charged time, so we feel it’s important to ensure that the surrendering party understands what surrender entails, that they know what to expect on the day, and so that they have time to process and really be sure, because once it’s done, there is no return.

At this point, behind the scenes we start getting very busy preparing for the intake of your dog which includes a whole bunch of paperwork, various risk assessments, and sometimes this may even include an in person behavioural assessment prior to handover. We then organise transport which is usually done by me personally and has seen me driving up to 36 hours or more for just 1 transport. The reason we do all the transports ourselves, well there’s a couple of reasons, one is safety. Most of the dogs that we intake have bite histories or are aggressive towards people, so safety is always a huge factor. We have to consider the hand over itself, getting the dog into the transport vehicle, if there is an emergency during transit, if it’s a long transit then we have to consider toilet breaks, and so on, and of course its not just the transporter which we need to consider, but the general public on route also. Another reason, which experience has taught us, is that intake is far less stressful for the dog without multiple people handling and handing over, and it makes the intake on our end far easier on both the dog and us, when we’ve personally transported the dog, because we find that bonding begins occurring during that transport run into rescue. And lastly insurance, once the dog has been surrendered to us, we become the dogs legal owners and are therefore responsible and liable for anything that happens next, we are one of the few rescues who are insured for working with and rehoming dogs with bite histories and to get this insurance we have to follow strict protocols and procedures.

On the day of hand over, the surrendering party already know exactly what to expect and will have been sent a copy of the surrender form ahead of time, so that they have read, completed and understood it before we arrive for the collection and handover of the dog. This again, provides another opportunity for the surrendering party to consider and be sure of their decision and it helps create a smooth and quick hand over by having everything prepared in advance, making it that little bit easier on both the dog and the surrendering party. The surrender form details the dog by name, age, breed, microchip number etc and also confirms basic details such as behaviour issues, medical issues and bite histories, it also explains and confirms that surrendering party understand that they are giving up all rights, title and interest to the detailed dog and that they further understand that all future decisions regarding the dog will be solely made by us, UNTIL EVERY DOG HAS A HOME.

We collect the dog from its current home, and once we add our signature to the surrender form, then the relinquishment is complete and ownership and responsibility of the dog is legally transferred to the rescue, and the dog is transported back here to me.

What is the procedure for intake?

Once the transport is completed, then we have to begin the intake procedure. Some intakes are more difficult than others, depending on the individual dog, with some of our dogs not being able to be handled on arrival. The first thing we do on arrival is get the dog safely to their kennel so that they can have a drink, go to the loo and begin settling into their new environment, we scan their microchip and check it off against their paperwork, and change the keepership details, and we complete their intake paperwork and risk assessment. Decompression protocols are put in place right away and we begin building a trusting relationship with the dog. We assess the dog on a day to day basis over the first couple of weeks then complete a full behavioural assessment once the dog is fully decompressed. From here, we develop the dogs individual training plan and rehabilitation begins.

If you’d like to know more about our decompression, rehabilitation, assessments, rehoming criteria, adoption process and all that good stuff that happens after intake, then once you’ve finished this blog, you can jump over to our rehoming blog which talks about all of that in detail. I’ll pop the link at the end of this.

Our responsibilities as a rescue.

Once the surrender of a dog is completed and ownership is relinquished, the dog becomes the responsibility of us, the rescue, and we take that responsibility seriously. Surrender doesn’t just give us ownership of the dog, but it gives us a duty of care towards that dog for the rest of its life, and everybody that dog comes into contact with.

Unlike most rescues, we do usually allow for the surrendering party to stay in contact with us and receive updates on the dog’s progress, up until the point of adoption. Obviously, due to privacy and respect for the new guardian, we do not share with anyone, including surrendering parties, where or to who that dog has been rehomed, but if we are still in contact with them, then we do let them know the good news that the dog has started their new adventures in their new home. We usually allow this because the reason that the dog is being surrendered is usually through heart ache and a genuine love for the dog. By the time we are approached we are usually the dog and the families last hope and it’s not that they want rid of their dog, it’s because they want their dog to get the help which they can’t give it. So, we often do stay in touch and actually have a fantastic relationship with almost everyone who has surrendered a dog to us. Of course, once a dog moves onto their new home then we can no longer provide these.

However, with that said, although we allow surrendering parties to stay in contact with us, we do not allow any contact between the surrendering party and the dog after surrender, this just can’t and doesn’t happen, it wouldn’t be fair to the dog and could hinder or create a relapse in their progress, and this is the same reason why no rescue will ever return a dog to the person who surrendered them, There is the history there that if they have surrendered the dog once, there is a high chance of it happening again, especially when the surrender is due to an inability to cope with the dogs behavioural needs.

So that’s surrender and intake, from there the dogs move on to decompression, rehabilitation and assessment, which determines their rehoming suitability and criteria. We do have a video talking about all that in great detail on our FB page, or if you prefer the blog version then follow this link:

Karen Fairclough


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