Morty illustrates why Casa del Toro isn't pulling puppies anymore. Pit bull puppies will not die in our local shelter. If we don't rescue them some other animal rescue group will.
However, during puppy season there can be A LOT of puppies at the shelter. In 2016 we rescued 15 puppies, not because they would die, but to shorten their stay in the shelter. Plus puppies get a lot of media attention. We tried to use puppies as a way to draw attention (and possible Adopters) to the adult dogs in the rescue, but it didn't work. Instead the puppies get adopted (and sometime returned) while the adult dog lingers.
We rescue Nelson in October 2016. he's a gorgeous 4 year old fella. We had no applications for him just because he's an adult male and didn't have the look that Adopters wanted. So on January 1, 2017 we received a rescue plea for 2 unrelated 8-week old puppies at the Indianapolis shelter. So I went and got them and Casa del Toro named the pups Mathis & Morty. When I left the shelter Morty fit easily in my hand. He was so sweet my husband said "we can just keep this one".
Mathis & Morty got adopted and still Nelson waited. So we pulled Tubby, who's cuteness almost broke the internet with his 'Big Puppy' song. Tubby was adopted and still Nelson (and our other adult dogs) waited. None of the potential applicants that applied for a puppy would consider adopting an adult dog. For different reasons they all said "we want to raise a puppy". Well you know what? Puppies are a lot of work for a long time! When you adopt a puppy you are committing to at least a decade of bonding with your new dog.
In June after 8 months and 3 adoption trials, Nelson's foster family decided to keep him because he's the perfect fit! Here are some photos of Nelson & his sibling (and almost clone) Piper.
So Morty is adopted by a family with children and a senior dog in April. Since the family lives too far away from Indianapolis to attend our training classes Casa del Toro repeatedly offered to pay for the Adopters to take Morty to a basic obedience class near them, but they never did. Then we get a call that they want to surrender Morty because he exhibited normal puppy behavior (i.e. he chewed the corner of the couch). Now, don't get me wrong, it's not okay for a dog to chew furniture, but when you have an 8 month old puppy you should expect chewing behavior and plan accordingly.
So a CDT volunteer drives and to pick up Morty. He is still the sweet, submissive pup he has always been and quickly integrated into a foster home with 4 other dogs. Morty is a good dog and we're sure he will be adopted again quickly.
Rescue is about trust and friendship. I have met so many friends during my Presidentcy. A little piece of my heart is in every dog that Casa del Toro saves. Oftentimes I'm the one who saw that dog suffering at the shelter. I personally walked that dog out of the shelter and said "Let's get you outta here. We're going home!" If something goes wrong (like Parvo, cancer, etc) I am the one that holds the Casa del Toro dog while it dies.
Casa del Toro foster homes give their time, talents, money, heart and soul to the dogs in our care. When we place a dog in an adoptive home we are trusting you to care as deeply as we do. When you give up on our dog that trust is broken. Sometimes we don't have an open foster home to accommodate an adoption return. What do we do? In the past a board member would crate and rotate until we have a better plan.
I am not bemoaning returns. We want our dogs back. We don't want them listed as 'free to a good home' because we care about them. Our dogs success in their forever homes is the success of the rescue.
However there is a pattern to puppy adoptions. In the past two years, out of the 28 puppies that we rescued and adopted out we had 4 that were returned. 3 of the 4 puppies were in their adoptive home for less than a year before they were returned. Why were they returned? The adopters sited job changes, family expansion, dog is too energetic and the cat in the house doesn't like the dog (cat was in the house when we placed the puppy for adoption and we discussed them having both).
We truly try to match each dog with the right adoptive home. We do not make rash decisions. We do not select the first applicant that applies. We have a team of volunteers look at all apps and we agree (as a group) to pursue the right fit. Unfortunately we cannot always predict the future and sometimes dogs, like Morty, come back to us due to no fault of their own.
So why not rescue puppies?
- If we don't rescue the puppies another animal rescue group will. No pit bull puppies are dying at our local shelters.
- Having puppies in the rescue does not draw attention or adopters to the adult or senior dogs in our care. Adult and senior pit bulls are dying at our local shelters.
How can Casa del Toro save pit bulls that need it most?
We rescue the dogs that will die in the shelter without our help. Sure we could cherry pick a blue cropped ear female puppy off the adoption floor. Yes, we will have foster homes come out of the woodwork to bring such a cute puppy into their home, the puppy will receive 100's of applications and get adopted quickly. But while we spend our efforts saving a dog that would get adopted anyway, a senior pit bull that just needs medical attention will die in the shelter because we don't have a foster home. That's not fair. We owe it to senior dogs to help them live out the rest of their lives comfortably. You never know, maybe in 10 years we rescue the blue cropped ear female senior who just needs medical attention.
So you may notice our adoption numbers will go down since we're not moving puppies. That's okay with us because we know that the dogs that we are rescuing would truly die without our intervention. I only hope that one day I don't have to decide which dog to save while I leave another to die.