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A guide - what not to say or do when trying to save a dog's life

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Without a doubt, photos of dogs who are in need of a home, or who are in need of a rescue, create emotional responses from the people who view them.

However, there are things that should not be said (or done) when trying to help - things that may actually do more harm than good.

The following are things NOT to do or say when attempting to network on behalf of a dog:

  • Do not say, "I think this dog is safe"
  • Do not say, "I am sure this dog will find a home"
  • Do not say, "I wish I could help but I can't"
  • Do not say that you are adopting a dog if you have no intention of actually adopting
  • Do not call the shelter/animal control just to obtain a status - only call if you are offering to help
  • If a rescue agency is doing a courtesy post for a dog, do not bash the prior owner - the prior owner will often see the comments and ask for the posting to be removed and then the dog does not receive any help

Comments can clutter a rescue feed for a dog, making actual offers of help hard to find. Comments indicating that a dog is safe (when in fact they are not) can cause people to stop networking.

The rescue organization, Old Dog Haven, recently had to pull a dog's posting from their Facebook page because people were inundating the shelter with inquiries about if the dog was going to be being euthanized. The rescue agency had never indicated that the dog was going to be put down at the shelter - they were only trying to find a foster home.

So many people flooded the shelter's phone lines that the facility asked the rescue agency to remove the courtesy listing altogether.

Please read postings thoroughly before commenting - typically, the information necessary to help is there (ID#, phone numbers, city/state). If, after reading, something is missing from the posting, it is okay to ask a question.

Without a doubt, networking saves lives - smart networking saves even more.

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I am human, if you see a typo, please let me know. Questions, comments or story ideas can be emailed to Please note - due to the heavy volume of emails received, I am unable to respond to each and every request, but they are all appreciated!



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