What Our Rescue Can and Cannot Do


Hopefully, this article will answer some questions that come up over and over again about “Why didn’t Pugalug just……….”


Why did Pugalug force these people to give up their dog? This question most often comes up when someone has to surrender their dog due to financial situations. Most commonly, a medical issue that the owner cannot afford. Pugalug does NOT force people to give up their dogs, but we also cannot pay vet costs for other people’s dogs. Why? We are a charity and we aren’t registered to do that. We can’t just give people money or pay the costs for someone else’s dog. We could potentially lose our charitable status and our non-profit status. As badly as we feel for people in this situation, we cannot give away money in this way. We would need to re-register as an entirely different type of organization with an entirely different structure.


Why doesn’t Pugalug buy dogs off of kijiji/auctions/online forums? There are a couple of reasons for this. The first being, the rescue isn’t set up to purchase dogs. Even if we were, it can be hard to suss out if the seller is the owner or just a broker for mill dogs. In some instances, buying dogs simply creates a market and doesn’t address the issue. This is also why buying a dog from a pet store can be an issue - it creates a market for more “inventory” and puts the breeding dogs still being used for that purpose at more risk.

Buying dogs would set a precedent that would come back to haunt us. If we buy dog A, then why would we say no to an owner wanting reimbursement for the money they’ve spent on their dog before surrendering? See where this gets tricky?


Why doesn’t Pugalug import dogs from out of country? There are many reasons why we do not do this. First and foremost are the multiple issues that arise from importing, including the importation of diseases, the need for a strict quarantine process, and the cost of importing these dogs to Canada. And that’s just for starters. A great many imported dogs are complete unknowns and may or may not present a variety of risks to domestic dogs and the family that is fostering them. And generally, we struggle to keep up with local need.


Why doesn’t Pugalug adopt out of province? This is a simple resources issue. We have a process for adopting and one part of that is a home visit which gets very hard to do long distance. Secondly, getting the dog to the adopter is costly and hard to coordinate and getting the dog back is extremely difficult if it doesn’t work out for the adopter and that dog.

We are all volunteers and many rescues DO coordinate with other rescues groups to do home visits in the province of Ontario, however extending that to across Canada is just not do-able.


Why won’t Pugalug take my pug mix who has a bite record? This can be a complex decision. For the most part, a dog that has bitten badly enough and often enough to get a bite record is a dog with some significant behaviour issues that need to be addressed and a rescue may not be the best place to do that.

Secondly, the fastest way for us to lose our liability insurance coverage is to take in dogs that we KNOW have bite record. You cannot waive liability for that. You can try, but if someone takes you to court, you will likely lose. If we know in advance of the intake that the dog has a bite record, then we cannot take in that dog AND keep our insurance.

Having said all of that, we also know that not all bites are equal and we do assess the bite. A child falls on a sleeping dog and gets bitten? We may take that dog depending on how the dog responded. Those bites are most often not going to end up with the dog having a record.

We also have to be realistic about what we can and cannot expect people to adopt. Folks come to a breed specific rescue looking for that breed and aren’t looking for a dog that may well pose a risk to them, their other dogs and their neighbours.


Why does Pugalug charge an adoption fee? Why don’t you give your dogs away? We charge adoption fees for several reasons. Generally, our fees are based on the age and health of the dog. Older dogs tend to have lower adoption fees, younger dogs tend to have higher fees. Healthy dogs will have a higher fee than a dog with a chronic condition. Our fees are not out of range with the normal costs of adopting.

We have once charged a hefty fee of over $500. In that case, we took in a pregnant bitch, saw her through delivery, care of the puppies and all the vetting. We almost never get in puppies, much less a litter. This was an opportunity to find homes for a healthy litter and use their adoption fees to offset some of the costs of our older, less healthy dogs. Yes, folks complained BITTERLY about it, but we also knew that these puppies were worth the cost and it was an unusual event in our rescue.

Giving away dogs is generally a terrible idea. And while people complain about adoption fees, they don’t come close to covering the cost of these dogs in our care.


Why do the foster parents adopt all the good dogs? They shouldn’t be allowed to. I will say upfront, this complaint really gets my goat. Our foster folks have often been doing this work for years. They’ve adopted out many more dogs than they’ve kept.


Often the foster folks have kept dogs with behaviour issues, major or complex medical issues or dogs that had a significantly reduced chance of adoption due to age. If a foster parent has a young, healthy dog in their care and they wish to adopt it, we let them, assuming they aren’t in violation of by-laws or other legal/liability issues. They’ve earned it. They deserve it. It’s the LEAST we can do for their dedication to the dogs they have cared for.

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