German Shepherd Rescuse
By Anne Marie H. Bergthold
Loyal, energetic, and intelligent are a just a few of the ways one can describe the German Shepherd breed—but these attributes can also put these magnificent dogs at risk. Since December of 2007, the nonprofit organization Greater California German Shepherd Rescue has been working to rescue German Shepherds from unacceptable situations and place them in permanent, loving homes. They serve the communities surrounding Modesto, Merced, Sacramento, South Lake Tahoe, and parts of the Bay Area.
“German Shepherds are known for their loyalty, intelligence and their exceptional agility,” said Volunteer Maddie Galati. “German Shepherds are most often seen in police and military work because of their high drive to work. A strong handler is the best fit for these dogs, as they love to problem solve and love to be trained.”
The organization typically has between 30 and 35 dogs at a time, but they are not kept in a shelter, instead the dogs are placed in foster homes.
“The advantage of having our dogs in foster homes rather than kennel them is so we can get to know the dog’s personality better and help find the dog a home that best fits his or her personality,” said Galati. “If the dogs are in a foster home, they learn basic house manners and basic obedience.”
This allows the dogs to “adapt to a household and family environment.” While this system has its advantages, there are challenges. Galati explains, “The challenges that we face in rescue is the fact that we cannot save every single dog. It truly breaks our hearts to leave a dog behind because we do not have a foster home.”
“With our rescue, the dogs are our clients,” said Galati. “This means that we will always do and make decisions for what is in the best interest of the dog.”
There are several factors that contribute to German Shepherds being a breed at high risk for being in unacceptable situations. Galati believes that it is often a result of a lack of understanding of their temperament.
“Many people get German Shepherds without thoroughly researching the breed so many people don’t realize exactly what they’re getting themselves into when they pick up that cute little eight-week-old ball of fluff,” said Galati. “Between their intelligence, energy level, problem-solving abilities and the need to control situations, German Shepherds are not suitable for the average dog owner.”
The average German Shepherd will need at least one strenuous walk each day along with some mental exercises, such as training. Without on-going training and exercise, German Shepherds will become stressed and take to jumping the fence or chewing up things around the house, Galati warns. Other than their energy level, German Shepherds are excellent family dogs.
Galati urges those who are interested in either adopting or volunteering to go and visit during an adoption day to meet the volunteers and dogs.
To view the schedule for adoption days and see profiles of the dogs available for adoption, visit their website at GCGSR.org.