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A rescue dog is a dog that has been placed in a new home after being abused, neglected, or abandoned by its previous owner. The term can also apply to dogs that are found as strays, surrendered by owners following relationship breakdowns, moving home where the owner is unable or unwilling to take their pets, or elderly people who are not permitted to take their dog(s) into a nursing home.
Many animal rescue organisations exist to rescue, protect, care and re-home dogs from unnecessary euthanasia. Common examples include the RSPCA in the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries, the ISPCA in Ireland, or the ASPCA in the United States. Many rescue dogs are rehomed quickly, but some wait longer for a home. This may be relevant when the dog is older. Some agencies provide ongoing health care and support for older dogs after they have been placed in a home. There are several charities dedicated to rescuing and rehoming older dogs.
The ASPCA estimates that approximately 3.3 million dogs in the United States enter shelters each year. Of these, 1.6 million are adopted, 670,000 are euthanized, and 620,000 are returned to their previous owners. A study conducted by the United States National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP) in 1998 found that the main reasons for pets being relinquished are: family moving, landlord will not allow pets, too many animals in household, cost of keeping the pet, owner is having personal problems, inadequate facilities, and no homes available for puppies. The study found that 47.7% of dogs turned in to shelters were not altered (spayed or neutered), 33% had not been to a veterinarian, and 96% of dogs had no obedience training. The conclusion of the researchers was that the owners who were relinquishing their pets did not have the knowledge to be responsible dog owners, and that educational programs aimed at present and prospective owners would reduce the number of dogs relinquished to animal shelters.
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