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Old 24.03.2007, 18:35
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failed to adopt a dog today

So we've wanted a dog for several years now, and since our building allows them we stopped at a couple of the rescue places.

Of course as with the US, there are a lot of dogs who are either very big or very old (12+) Our landlord ruled out big (and we don't have a yard, so it wouldn't really be fair to the dog either), and I think a very old dog might be a bit much to deal with since we'd be more likely to have to explain problems to a vet etc. and while our Italian is improving I'm not sure it's there yet.

However, one of the shelters had some dogs in the 5-7 age range which we would be quite happy with, but they seemed to be trying to actively discourage us from adopting. In particular, they said:

- If we ever went back to the US, we would not be allowed to take the dog with us because it would be illegal to export.

- We would have to keep them informed of our address any time we moved (and I think she was trying to say that all medical procedures would have to be approved through them first)

- They would not allow us to adopt unless we returned with somebody who spoke fluent Italian

- Even then, we would only be allowed to adopt if they couldn't find somebody with a yard who wanted to adopt the same dog.

Now our Italian isn't great, but it was good enough to get most of this across. (We did have her talk to our Italian friend on the phone for a bit, but it was stuff that she could have explained to us if she would have just slowed down a bit so we could understand her.)

We had no problem explaining that my partner does not work, so the dog would not be alone all day, I've got a long-term contract so we're not just temporary residents, we have an apartment that is dog-friendly, we live near a park, etc. They just seemed not to want us to adopt from them.

Are all of the adoption places like this? Are there any other ways to adopt a dog in need of a home? Has anyone just gone to Italy to get one?
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Old 24.03.2007, 21:38
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Re: failed to adopt a dog today

First, don't get discouraged! Good for you for starting the search.

There are plenty of dogs in need of a good home; you might just have to look a little farther afield.

Each rescue organization makes it's own rules, with a eye to what they feel is best for the dogs in their care. Some are very strict, some far too lax (IMHO). If you speak to a few different Tierheim you will get a feel for differing procedures.

Here is one of my experiences:

I fell in love with an elderly collie who could barely walk... But, because my house has stairs up to the garden, the Tierheim was hesitant to allow me to adopt him - they felt he could not manage. Fair enough. But... I just knew that this dog was meant to be part of my family. So, I asked to meet the shelter manager. I gave her a detailed write-up of my experience, gave her letters from my vets attesting to how I have cared for my other dogs, wrote up my plans for how I would manage this dog's day to day needs, showed her plans to build a ramp if necessary, brought along the photo album of my other happy handicapped mutts... in short, I pulled out all the stops to convince the shelter that I could provide exactly the home this poor old boy needed.

He came home with me the next weekend. (Although, I often wonder if their change of heart was due to the fact that he suddenly needed surgery, rather than to my eloquence... )

I have also adopted a dog from Italy. There are, sadly, thousands of dogs languishing in shelters in Italy - most of whom never make it out. Get in touch with one of the Swiss organizations working in Italy, or go to any of the Italian rescues on your own. To bring a dog back from Italy you will need an EU passport (rabies vaccs, etc.) For import regs, see the BVET site:


Two Swiss groups working in Italy:



And, Oasis des Veterans also works in Italy - they are dedicated to rehoming older dogs:


You could also consider rescues in other Swiss cantons - many are happy to rehome cross country.

If you bring a dog in from any mediterranean country you should also have the Leishmanoisis test done. Most rescues will already have done this, but if not, any vet can do it here - it's a simple blood test. I had a full 'Mittelmeer' panel done for my mutts which screened for several diseases present in those areas. You can still bring a dog into Switzerland even if he/she tests positive, however it is important to find a local vet with experience of treating such diseases. Not all do, as they are not often seen here.

As to the issue of bringing the dog back to the US... Utter nonsense. I adopted a dog in Hong Kong, and brought him (and his US born 'sister') back to the States without any problems. I'd be happy to speak to this woman on the subject if you think it would help (no Italian here, though... only English and Hoch Deutsch I'm afraid.)

It is common for a rescue to want to know where their dog is at all times, though. I have signed clauses saying I will inform the rescue of any move. This is because, should you at anytime be unable to care for the dog, a good rescue requires you to return the dog to them.

I can understand concerns about not having a garden though. Most dogs do need the space to run, play and just hang out in a secure outside environment. And, dog ownership is more difficult without immediate access to a garden. (I've been through a lot of 2AM emergency garden visits...) For some dogs, a large garden is an absolute necessity. Some do well pottering around a small garden, some are happy without one as long as they get their four walks a day. It really is down to the temperament of the individual dog. BUT, that said, a dedicated owner can often find a way to meet a dog's needs, even if the set-up is less than what some would consider perfect. You should think carefully about the rescue's concerns, they are valid - then work up a plan as to how you could address those concerns given your circumstances. This rescue may not budge, but at least you've given it your best shot. And another rescue just may be impressed that you've thought this through.

As for an older dog... Most of my dogs were adopted as oldies. Yes, I know my time with them may be short, but that just makes it all the sweeter. Some of my seniors are pretty wobbly, one of the oldest is fit as a fiddle and quite active. It's a personal choice, obviously, The important thing is to think honestly about what you want in a dog, what you can provide, and then look for the dog who meets your needs (and you his). It is often a case of something just 'clicking' when you find your new friend. But, oldies have their own special charm.

I'm sorry you've had this bad experience, but please don't let it put you off rescue. Go speak with other Tierheime, take a look at the Tierschutz database, look at the Italian sites. Don't lose heart - you will find your four legged friend.

Last edited by meloncollie; 24.03.2007 at 21:50.
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Old 28.03.2007, 20:56
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Re: failed to adopt a dog today

I'm sorry you had a difficult (and disappointing) experience. Can I just share some general thoughts on apartment life (i.e. no garden or yard for the dog) and dogs? Not directed at you in particular as you've already said you have a partner at home to address an apartment dogs' needs. Just taking advantage of the thread to add some thoughts for others that might be thinking of getting a dog and reading this thread in the future.

I have two dogs, who, god love 'em, have been from the US to the UK to CH with us. By way of background I should say that both are rescues - we are the second home for one and the third for the other. One was raised in an apartment before she came to us - even had to learn how to go outdoors to do her business because she was used to using puppy potty training pads.

In the US and the UK, they always had a fenced yard/garden, even when we were renting. Here in Switzerland we are in an apartment. We have a bit of private (unfenced) grass where they can do their thing, but the Westie really, really misses a good ramble round the garden. The poodle, being, well, a poodle (and the one raised in an apartment initially) has adapted well to apartment living. They get walked, but certainly not multiple times a day (as I would agree is ideal), because I have an active toddler to keep up with, and that is the reality of our world right now.

To anyone in an apartment, thinking of getting a dog, Please, please, consider carefully not only your lifestyle and time, but also the breed you are adopting. Westies were bred to patrol their masters farms. It is in their nature to ramble round the perimeter of their master's property. So mine has days when I can tell she's not thrilled with apartment living. It is very hard for me to see her feeling like that and, I'll be honest, we are having to deal with some occasional behavioural issues that I know are related to this. Research the breed (or suspected/known breeds of origin for your mutt) and learn about their original purpose in life. It will give you a lot of insight into whether they can adapt well to apartment life.

That said, I know someone with a golden lab that lives in a flat, and he does fine but he also gets 3-4 hour long walks each day. Ask yourself if you are really willing/able to do that, day in, day out, in all seasons and weather. Be honest with yourself about the answer. It's ok if the answer is no - it's in everyone's best interest to be honest with yourself now.

The other thing I would say is think about when you will leave Switzerland (as many people do eventually, because of jobs, etc.). I have a thread elsewhere in the forum about a dog who was adopted, given a good home, but then given up when the owners left Switzerland, and the person who took him (literally on the last day, to save him going to a shelter) is needing to find him a new home because of her family situation. Really ask yourself, "Will I do what is necessary to bring this dog with us?" For example, I'm a bit cynical about Ollie's previous owners who didn't take him because they couldn't find accomodation in London that would allow dogs. While I know from personal experience that that is something that is very difficult, I also know from personal experience that it can be done, if you persist and are committed to it. Ask yourself how deep your commitment is so that, in 2-3-4 years time, there's not another dog needing a new home.

[steps off of soapbox now]
Sorry to be so longwinded, but I just wanted to throw in my 2 cents/pence/rappen, in the interests of all current and future four-legged family members.
Thus far you have been adrift in the sheltered harbour of my patience. ~ Cobra Bubbles
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Old 29.03.2007, 10:32
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Re: failed to adopt a dog today

I think them wanting to give someone with a yard preference over an apartment person is fair. But yes, adopting pets here from shelters can be a bit of a journey.

Try this shelter:

I visited them last April and they were really over-flowing. Hopefully that's changed now. Don't go during feeding time either because they are quite under-staffed.

~ Nanda.
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