Countless dogs are in need of homes – strays, surrenders, the abused, neglected and forgotten. Fortunately, a number of rescue organizations keep many of these animals safe and cared for until they find forever homes.
For PackPeople’s first interview, we were fortunate to get in touch with Ruth Chiger, President of the French Bulldog Rescue Network (www.frenchbulldogrescue.org), an amazing, independent North American organization comprised solely of volunteers. Read on for Ruth’s valuable insights on an astonishing breed, the rescue experience and the rewards to be had in loving, caring for and honoring these deserving dogs.
PackPeople.com: How and when did your adventure in dog rescue begin?
Ruth Chiger: I began while in college and rescued a Doberman running across campus. After graduation when I finally returned to South Florida, I joined the Doberman Rescue League and rose through the ranks to be its local President.
Why did you decide to help French Bulldogs in particular?
We bought our first French Bulldog in 1997. I joined some French Bulldog chat lists online which led me to become a member of the National Club (French Bulldog Club of America) and ultimately to join the French Bulldog Rescue Network when it began in 2001.
How would you describe the temperament of the French Bulldog?
They are a big dog personality in a small package. They are comical and very people-oriented. They were bred to be a companion dog and they take that job very seriously….having to share your chair, your bed, your dinner!
How many French Bulldogs do you currently have up for adoption?
We currently have about 160 dogs in FBRN and 78 are available this week for adoption.
What do you think is the reason that this breed has become so popular in the U.S ?
They are a great size, have wonderful personalities and good dispositions. They are easy maintenance and positively adorable!
How long is their average stay with you? What do you do if a dog does not get adopted?
There really is no “average” as they stay as long as they need to in order to become healthy both mentally and physically. We have dogs that remain in foster care for years, if necessary.
We saw that your website has French Bulldogs all over the U.S. for adoption. How do you find these dogs – do you rescue them or do people contact your organization directly?
We do get many owner surrenders, but we also get dogs from commercial breeding kennels, import brokers, public shelters, private rescue groups, and Good Samaritans.
Can you tell us about a rescue and/or adoption experience that has deeply moved or inspired you?
They are too numerous to mention. Some of the most inspiring are the people who reach out to the dogs in carts (wheelchairs). We recently adopted Danica to a couple who are both physical therapists. She is now standing, taking a few short steps and doing remarkably well. They have continued the therapy and treatment FBRN began and she is thriving.
The job must be both rewarding, frustrating and sad at the same time… what kinds of things do you do to raise awareness about your organization?
Our website is our biggest tool, but we attend school functions, pet fairs, dog shows and any other events where we feel we can tell them about all we do.
What are the biggest challenges your rescue faces?
Just like everyone else in this economy, our biggest challenge is raising money. We have fabulous supporters, but we operate solely on donations, adoption fees (which we attempt to keep reasonable) and an occasional grant. The dogs just keep coming, they all need medical treatment, some more than others.
In general, why should people adopt from a rescue?
These are fabulous loving, dogs that have ended up in rescue through no fault of their own. We write very extensive biographies about each of the dogs on their adoption page so every person that applies knows all about the dog…. if it loves kids, will get along with the cat, is housebroken and even if it gets carsick!
If you could give pet owners one piece of advice what would it be?
NEVER buy from a pet store, NEVER buy from a newspaper ad, NEVER buy from a Craigslist ad or off a website. Do their homework. On this page we give tips of what to look for and what to ask a breeder: www.frenchbulldogrescue.org/htdocs/faq.html
What advice can you give to someone who might be wanting to get involved with or start an animal rescue group, shelter, or sanctuary?
Seek the advice of an attorney, file all the necessary paperwork and draw up good surrender forms, contracts and other forms. Make sure to thoroughly screen all volunteers and have everything in place before bringing in that first animal.
What makes working for a rescue so rewarding? What keeps you going?
Watching the dogs flourish. Seeing their bodies and souls heal and watching them become all they can be. Seeing them chew on a bone for the first time or play with a toy, cuddle next to their foster family and kiss them. Looking at the faces of their proud adoptive families as they pick them up on their way to their forever home and then getting updates and cards thanking us for allowing them to adopt because this dog has brought so much love and happiness to their family.
PackPeople.com heartily thanks Ruth Chiger and the French Bulldog Rescue Network for their generous time and spirit. Please visit www.frenchbulldogrescue.org to learn more about them, as well as how you can help them continue their very important work!