Sunday, February 3, 2013

Crossposter Confusion

Recently someone posed a poignant question regarding “urgent dog” postings:  “If we can't help them, then maybe these posts should's just too upsetting.” 

We all sympathize with that feeling, but the general consensus was that it was still worth asking for help, since sometimes it works out and we can help a dog.  Our group page has, in fact, proved a fertile recruiting ground for foster homes for dogs in need.  This is a good thing, in many ways, but there are some problems that are hidden to some of the folks involved.  These issues arise mainly as a result of the immediacy of the medium (Facebook) and the emotion of the content (cute dog will die!).  This combination can lead to a lot of difficult and confusing situations, all due to good intentions.

If we agree that we want to continue using our group page (and other social networks) to seek foster homes, donations, and other help for individual dogs, I’d like to offer some guidelines to make the process as constructive, clear, and effective as possible.  (Please:  This is not a criticism of anyone or a complaint – please, no one take this personally.  However, as we grow, we need some explicit guidelines and information for everyone involved.)

Here are some rules for those who post dogs on the Plenty of Pit Bulls group page:

1.  Post only local dogs, not those that are too far away to be rescued or fostered locally. If you want to donate to rescue groups in New York or Miami, that’s great – but go to their pages to do it.

2.  Be selective: Please do not post every single dog at risk at a given shelter and please post only pit bull type dogs.  People can visit the general pages for each shelter if they want to see more.

3.  Post each dog only once.

4.  Post only dogs that have a rescue group interested, and please be clear about that in the post.  For example, I could say about Valentyn, the black dog pictured at the top: “Valentyn is a 10 month old unneutered male at Alachua County Animal Services.  He is heartworm positive and on the euthanasia list for Tuesday morning (Feb. 5).  Plenty of Pit Bulls will pull him if we have a committed foster home.”  This is more work than simply sharing the original post from the shelter’s page, but it will add to clarity.  If there is no rescue group interested in a dog you want to save, please contact them privately until you find someone who will pull with a foster commitment.  This may add to the work of crossposters and reduce the number of dogs posted on our page, but it will make life much easier and less frustrating for many others.  (And remember, there are lots of other pages where you can also post dogs in need.)

5.  Please follow-up on the dogs for whom you advocate.  If you beg a group to pull a particular dog and it turns out that the dog needs expensive medical treatment, transport, or a new foster home, step up to help with just as much dedication as you put into getting that dog out of the shelter in the first place.  Remember, “rescue doesn’t end with the pull.”  If groups are left stranded with expensive or difficult dogs, they will be understandably gun-shy and may end up not wanting to take in more.

Here are some rules for potential fosters:

1.  Do not offer to foster unless you are 100% certain that you will keep the dog until she or he is adopted, regardless of what happens.  This may mean sticking with a dog who chases your cat, pees on your carpet, or howls in his crate.  It is completely understandable i you are not willing to make that commitment, but do not ask a group to pull a dog without a solid commitment.  (If it is not working out, you should certainly talk to the rescue and ask for help finding a new foster, but understand that it may not happen quickly and be prepared to hang in there for as long as it takes.)  There is no backup.  If rescue groups only pulled dogs when they had a second backup home available, they would never pull any.

2.  If you are fostering for a particular group (or have offered to do so), please do not take in a foster dog for another group without checking with the first group.  Don’t make a commitment to foster for one group and then offer to foster a dog whose picture you just saw posted.  This is just a request for clear communication.  Even if you have not explicitly committed, if you are fostering for one group and want to switch to a different group after the current dog is adopted, tell everyone about it (and make sure you know which group is pulling which dog).  Since there is no pool of backup fosters, your spur-of-the-moment offer to take in one dog may well mean that another dog cannot be taken from the euthanasia list elsewhere.

3.  Make sure you know what is involved in fostering before you commit.  For example, you will need to be able to get your foster dog to vet appointments and adoption events, follow instructions about vet care, feeding, and training, and more.

4.  We know you’re a volunteer, but so are we.  We have jobs, families, and other commitments.  We do this for love, and it is only possible to keep doing it if everyone communicates clearly and respectfully and shares the necessary cost and work.