Breed rescue

Rescue sounds like something people do when houses are burning down, rivers are flooding, dog fighting rings get busted . . . purebred dog rescue isn’t nearly as dramatic as all of that usually. It’s more normally a small very tired group of breed enthusiasts who are constantly fielding messages such as – URGENT will be PTS in one hour if you don’t respond – or – we have seventeen Staffords in the shelter please come get them – or we have a Stafford and won’t allow a breeder to pull we would rather euthanize than support breeders – or I bought a Stafford but my breeder never told me he might grow up to hate other dogs please come get him – or – my brother passed away and now I have a 12 year old Stafford who needs a home and I cant keep him – or even – we have two staffords but are having a baby, moved to an apartment, got deployed, went to jail, new girlfriend who hates dogs and need to get rid of them. . . SIGH.

Purebred rescue is not something I enjoy. It is mentally exhausting. It takes up a lot of bandwidth in my life which I sure could use elsewhere….but it is also something I feel obligated to do as a lover of the breed, as a breeder and as a responsible person.

Purebred rescue costs money. Purebred rescue takes a LOT of my free time. Purebred rescue means lots of fund raising to help cover the cost of transporting, shelter release expenses, veterinary bills, training costs, foster care, transportation, feeding and caring for dogs whom another person produced and another person owned. And now the dog is our responsibility.

Purebred rescue means making decisions. Deciding whether or not a dog is indeed a Stafford. Deciding what we need to pull a dog from a shelter (not always easy). Deciding who will foster, train, care for the dog. Deciding how to market the dog and how to screen potential homes. Deciding who can do home checks, background checks and transport the dog to a new home.

Purebred rescue means paperwork. Paperwork to provide shelters showing we (The Stafford Knot, Inc.) are a non profit 501(c)(3). Paperwork to locate breeder. Paperwork to get owners to sign release forms for owner surrenders. Paperwork for applications. Paperwork for contracts. Paperwork to register microchips into new owners names. Paperwork to keep in touch with new owners. Paperwork to offer new owners to help educate them on the breed. Paperwork to try to get new owners to join breed and all breed clubs to remain active and involved.

Purebred rescue also includes owner surrender and helping breeders Rehome Staffords. Owner surrenders are usually quite emotional. This means 100’s of texts and phone calls. Emotionally draining phone calls. Phone calls with tears, excuses, anger, frustration and heartbreak. Purebred rescue can sometimes mean making difficult decisions regarding the future of a dogs life.

With all of this my job is to remain calm and compassionate. When the phone gets put down – I can then break down myself. But not before then.

Purebred rescue means being yelled at, cussed at, lied to, gossiped about, rumors told, accusations hurled about, abused in so many ways by breeders, shelters, other rescues, owners and strangers on social media. And throughout all of the abuse it also means remaining calm and true to the goal which is the safety of the dog in question.

The Staffords are why I do this. I would love to stop and let others take over. I have tried to quit. The sad truth is that we ALL need to be involved. This is not a job for a couple of people in each breed. We all need to work together and do the best we can do. Breeders need to step up – carefully screen new owners. Remain in contact with those owners. Be their support. Microchip and register that chip for life and put your name on the chip along with the owners and veterinarians. Sponsor owners club memberships to encourage participation with other Stafford owners. Get owners involved. Make it well known in your contracts, in your conversations and on your web pages and FB pages that you are available for the lifetime of the Stafford you produced or rescued. Make it well known that there exists a community of Stafford enthusiasts all Stafford owners can turn to for any reason.

Purebred rescue is not the enemy nor is it something nice to have to do. BUT it is something we ALL should be doing.

Looking for a Stafford?

I have noticed an increase in people reaching out for help after buying a puppy and realizing they might not have gotten exactly what they were hoping for. There is a real need for more education on this breed. A number of ‘pop up’ breeders are literally cashing in on the upsurge of popularity in Staffordshire Bull Terriers.

In an effort to educate we are working on marketing ideas to try to reach people BEFORE they purchase a Stafford puppy so we can make sure they are well equipped with all the information they need to make a good purchase from a breeder who will support and mentor them, a breeder who is involved in more than ‘making puppies’, a breeder who does (and can prove) all breed appropriate health testing, a breeder who will take back a dog they have produced for any reason at any time, a breeder who is involved in breed rescue, a breeder who is well educated on the breed – an honest preservation breeder.

You deserve to bring home a puppy who has been enriched and raised in a loving home environment for the first 8-12 weeks of its life. You deserve the correct temperament. You deserve a happy and healthy, well adjusted puppy. A Stafford puppy should be confident, eager to learn and energetic. Whether or not your breeder feeds raw, naturally rears or not – they should be a well respected active member of the Stafford community. Help us help you!

The new marketing campaign will be designed to target regular people looking for a puppy so they have this information in hand! Tell us what you search for when looking online – tell us what you expect to find – tell us your thoughts on what you are finding when searching. Send an email to wavemakerstaffords @gmail.com with the subject: Stafford Search Study so that we can put together a helpful education campaign.

Don’t lose your way

I have always been told cliches such as ‘The harder you work, the harder they work you” and “No good deed goes unpunished” but even so I have been the type person who not only has creative ideas but also follows through on those ideas and usually with great success. I am that person who volunteers for too much, works harder than asked to work, creates more work for myself as long as it benefits the common goal . . . and I have been disappointed most of the time as well. I take full responsibility for that.

For the past 15+ years I have tried to fill a void I saw and created an informational website that others could find helpful for most topics Stafford/dog related. I have kept a blog of some type with honest, from my heart dialog. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I do not pretend to have thick skin. I help people who ask without hesitation. Besides this website, I also created The Stafford Knot, Inc 501(c)(3) so that I could share information about this breed with the world. Many people volunteered their time and their words for TSK over the years. We worked hard and offered free publications, articles, videos, fund raisers, merchandise and sponsorships – all in the name of free easily accessible information about the Stafford and – along the way – raised many many thousands of dollars for SBT rescue. TSK is still archived and available for free. The wealth of knowledge we received permission to share is irreplaceable.

I spent 40-60+ hours a week at my desk volunteering in one capacity or another – it became my second full time job – between TSK, SBT Mentor, Wavemaker, the many regional clubs, international clubs and the parent club – I always spend my free time dedicated to the Stafford and those who also cherish the breed. I volunteered doing rescue, rehome services, fostering, transporting and fundraising for Stafford rescue – creating online presences for reaching out for homes and volunteers. Many times it felt exhaustive and thankless, but knowing I was helping the dogs kept me going. I suppose I always thought that one day my hard work would pay off. I mean, don’t get me wrong – being responsible for raising so much money for rescues worldwide is a great feeling – but I guess I wanted more than that.

Many times over the years I requested formal endorsement TSK and what it stands for. We always sent money to the clubs, sent donations, sponsorships, served on committees, created committees and served on the board of the parent club – I always tried to volunteer at shows no matter how far away they were. I spent thousands traveling to shows to judge sweepstakes anytime I have been asked. I make items as gifts for my winners and truly enjoy doing this. I have made items to sell and share and donate. And , along with Jason, Maurizio and many others created the Illustrated Breed Standard when none existed for the breed in this country. I even allowed the parent club to use the text from our book with only the request that the many people who donated their words received credit. That never happened and in fact they take full credit – not even crediting the artist they paid to do their drawings much less any work TSK is responsible for. I offered ideas, suggestions, the platform even for the clubs to share in what we have worked so hard to create. I sent a resume to the JEC and was turned down with no explanation given even after being told I was more than qualified.

The acknowledgement and endorsement I suppose I was seeking never came. I won’t lie. It does feel like I never existed some days. It can feel like nothing I did was appreciated except for the fact that now they are copying most of what I have created and using it for themselves. I have to ask – wouldn’t it have been so much easier had they simply endorsed TSK and my work years ago? I offered to put their publication online. I offered to sell merchandise for them. I have a reading suggestion list on this website and on TSK, like they now do with TSK’s book oddly missing. I have a free public library of 100’s of articles I share. I did the color version of their logo. I created the Sunshine committee, painted/sculpted/braided/designed items at my cost items to sell/give/donate for the club. I did many photos, logos and ads for the club and its members. Now they are doing all of this themselves. Good for them. I hope they finally are able to get out of debt. I am responsible in a way for that start too – raising and donating over $4000 from the KY show. . . the first time in the nearly 40 year history of the club they didn’t lose money at a National. You’re welcome.

Sometimes in this world the best one can do is to take ownership of all the positive actions they have taken and just accept that feeling as success. Another cliche have been told is “Do good things not for the acknowledgement, but rather simply to know you have done them”. I’ll have to chew on that for a bit. I think I will get there . . . but for now I needed to pat my own back.

I am super proud of what I have given to the Stafford world.