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Old 18.07.2020, 15:45
meloncollie meloncollie is offline
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Re: Dog Adoption Thread - agencies to adopt from and advice

Warning: Long rambling post ahead. Maybe grab a cuppa first...

The go-to thread for newbies looking to adopt a dog in Switzerland is here:

Yes, it's an old thread but little has changed with the exception of two things:

First, the Tierdatenbank no longer exists, and second, the federal requirement to take the SKN classes has been abolished... although everyone involved in dog welfare still very strongly encourages potential adopters to take classes, more on that later.

So please take a moment to read through that thread, as you will likely find many questions answered there.

That said:

I see you come from the UK. From what I know working with rescue community colleagues there, the homeless dog situation, and the process of adoption, can be quite different to what you might experience here. So just a heads-up.

As Island Monkey says, there are nowheres near the number of homeless dogs here as in other countries. The last decade or so saw significant improvement in dog owners understanding their responsibilities, resulting in significant drop in the numbers of dogs needing new homes.

(Sadly, with the abolition of the mandatory courses we have started to see poor ownership behavior again... fortunately that has not yet led to a marked increase in homelessness, but I do worry...)

At present, many of the dogs in Swiss shelters come from other countries, brought in by rescue organizations here partnering with rescue groups in those countries where the dogs stand little chance of being adopted.

Because the numbers are low(ish) here, do be aware that you may have 'competition' for the types of dogs everyone wants - young, small, cute, fluffy, well-mannered, no baggage. While dogs like these do come into rescue, when they do the phones might ring off the hook with potential adopters. You - and your family including the children - have to put your best foot forward during the assessment if you wish to be chosen.

If you are able to take on an older or senior dog, or a dog with medical needs, a dog with behavioral issues, a listed breed or a a large 'not cuddly looking' type of dog, or a dog with some past baggage, you will likely find you have less competition. You do, however, need to demonstrate that you can meet this dog's special needs.

Spend some time reading not only the thread linked, but also various Tierheim adoption pages and think then about how you would initially approach the rescue in order to be considered as a potential adopter.

One thing I will say, bluntly: Adoption is not about what is best for you but about what is best for the dog. Please understand that your family might not be considered suitable for every dog who piques your interest. So to avoid disappointment with your children, it's often best to keep the search between the adults until you pass the initial assessment and are invited to meet the dog - and even then understand that nothing is certain until the adoption papers are signed. When small children are involved managing their expectations is important.


In the other thread, many posters have detailed the processes we have gone through in adopting here so I won't repeat that here.

Here are the Tierheim I have adopted from in Switzerland:

SPA Fribourg:

Tierheim Surber:

Tierschutzbund Basel:


Tierheim Root:

(Some of these have been re-organized since I adopted from them, so management and practices might not be the same.)

Other Tierheime I admire:

Tierschutz Beider Basel:

Animal Happy End:

Tierheim Pfötli:

New Graceland (focuses on greyhounds, but have other dogs in as well):

Coeur de Galgo (also focuses on sight hounds but rescues others dogs as well):

Oasis des Veterans (focuses on older dogs):

(You can see that some of these have few dogs at present.)

There are many other groups, likely equally worthy. A not fully inclusive list, by canton, can be found here:

As IM says, simply start googling things like Tierheim, Refuge, (Breed) In Not, etc. Newer rescue groups and private groups are likely not included in the above lists.

There is also a commercial platform, Tieronline, that lists dogs up for adoption. Be aware that even when you select 'Hund in der Schweiz', some of the dogs listed will still be in their home countries, so you are looking at an international adoption. Which is probably another thread.

A word of caution:

Switzerland is a target for the Dark Side - and these unscrupulous barstewards have learned that they can make as much money posing as rescues as they can pretending to be breeders. This despicable trade is active here because there are a lot of very wealthy and very naive people in Switzerland. These fake rescues are often the same people who abuse the dogs - and then use the story of that abuse to tug at naive heartstrings. Do not, under any circumstances, go this route! Doing so simply condenms more dogs to lives of misery and/or a horrific death.

There are many threads discussing how to spot the Dark Side - please take a browse through the Pets Corner. And please, come back with questions if you think you might have come upon one of these bad actors.

There are also a number of 'unserious' rescues here, groups that are not ill-intended, but who may have jumped into rescue work without really knowing what they are doing, sometimes to the detriment of the animals and adopters. Again, come back with questions if you are concerned about the group you are dealing with.

Due diligence is a must when wading into animal welfare waters. It breaks my heart to say this, but that is where we are today.


And a word about fostering:

Again the emphasis that adoption is all about what is right for the dog:

Fostering is about getting a dog ready to live in the human world again, about assessing the dog, about healing the dog if needed. Fostering is fundamentally not a 'try before you buy' for you and the family.

Yes, some rescues allow a trial placement for a limited time. But please be aware that placing and then returning a dog (rinse and repeat) can be emotionally damaging to some dogs, a trial period is not to be entered into lightly - for the dog's sake.

Now - many dogs can be 'shut down' due to the trauma of their situations. Behavior in kennels might be different than behavior in your home. With all my dogs, although I had done a thorough an assessment as I could, I still mentally plan on a period of some 4-6 months before they fully settle in well enough to show their true characters. One has to understand that there may well be surprises in store.

If you are truly unsure about any aspect of an adoption, I would counsel waiting until you are in a place to make a commitment - especially with small children.

But if you are experienced dog owners, can provide the right environment, and if your children are old enough to meet the rescue's (and dog's!) requirements, you could offer your services as a foster family. Just be aware that fostering, while one of the most rewarding things you can do, can be bitter-sweet. My heart broke a little every time when one of my fosters eventually went on to his forever family - and I'm a level headed adult. Fostering can be hard on children.

I believe Animal Happy End uses foster families, btw.


Do be aware that every rescue group works to it's own policies and principles. One cannot generalize.


If you are new to dog ownership in Switzerland, and certainly if you are first time dog owners, there is a set of courses you should consider taking, the National Hundehalter Brevet. There are two classes, a theory class that is best taken before getting your dog, and a practical class. These classes are voluntary, and highly recommended.

EF member CherryTree is a dog trainer who offers these courses - you should contact her for more information.


Be aware that dog ownership is regulated at both the federal and cantonal levels. Dog control is the competency of the cantons - which means the rules and regs vary by canton. So while there no longer is a federal course mandate, some of the cantons do require classes be taken for certain classes of dogs.

You can read summaries of the various cantonal dog laws on the Tier Im Recht website, here:

When I am assessing a potential adoptive family, I ask them about their cantonal dog law. Just a hint.


As you probably have read on other threads, all dogs must be registered. You will need a vet to do this, so do add finding a vet to your to-do list if you don't have one already. I bring this up because again, it's something many rescues might expect you to have already researched.


Wishing you and your family all the best in this search

Last edited by meloncollie; 18.07.2020 at 15:56.
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