Weim lives matter!

Sunday, February 12, 2012


     At the start of this post I want to make it clear that all the opinions expressed herein are my opinions only and are not that of any organization or group that I am a member of or affiliated with in any way.

     I have been troubled  and torn since I first read the article entitled, "Rescued Weimaraner to Show at Westminster 2012," which was published on the Life With Dogs site.  http://www.lifewithdogs.tv/2012/02/rescued-weimaraner-to-show-at-westminster-2012/

     This article tells a wonderful story of a man taking a dog from horrific circumstances and giving him a second chance on life.  The story almost has a Hollywood theme to it, as Maverick, a dog who is in terrible physical shape, becomes a champion and will now be showing on the biggest stage available for conformation dogs in the United States, the fabled Westminster Kennel Club show.

     I want to commend Dan Stallings, the man who found this dog and has returned him to championship form, as no dog deserves to live in the way that this dog was living, and those who go out of their way to help dogs need to be given proper thanks and credit.  In no way do I mean to take anything away from what he did for this dog by what I state in this post.

     The problem I have with this story is this dog being called a "rescue" and the concept of rescue that will be given to the general public as this tale is told during the broadcast of the Westminster show.

     To better explain the problem of where I'm coming from on this subject I'll use some quotes from the article that I mentioned above.

     First, how was the dog acquired?  "I felt so terrible for him that I bought him off the gentleman (and I use that word loosely) just to get him out of that living environment."

     From my knowledge of rescue, the practice is not to purchase dogs, thereby rewarding the owner for getting rid of the dog.  Quite the opposite, there is oftentimes a relinquishment fee charged to help cover the costs of the care the dog will need.

     "I was able to convince his previous owner to let me have him for a small rehoming fee with his papers, and he was signed over to me."

     I have several problems with this idea.  One of the first things I ask someone who has a dog that needs help is who was the breeder of the dog or where did they get the dog.  If the dog is from a responsible breeder I know that the breeder would want to be informed that one of their dogs is in trouble and I would first give them the chance to step in and take their dog back.  I feel that rescue needs to work with breeders and encourage their participation in caring for the dogs that they have produced.

     Beyond finding out who the breeder of the potential rescue dog is there should be no need to have the papers and certainly not to pay to get them, once again, a reward for the person getting rid of the dog.  If they want the dog to be able to participate in AKC companion events it only takes an ILP registration and the dog would be eligible for obedience, rally, agility and tracking. 

     "Upon acquiring Maverick and going through his paperwork I located and contacted the breeder to assure her he was safe and sound now.  I found out from her that she had been desparately (sic) trying to get Mav back but the owner had moved and wouldn't return any of her phone calls or emails."

     I have many thoughts on these statements in the article, both for the rescuer and the breeder.  As I stated previously, the breeder should have been contacted immediately when the identity of the dog was known and given the chance to fulfill the requirements of a responsible breeder.  

     I would also think that the unreturned emails and phone calls would raise a red flag causing the breeder to work harder to locate this dog and check on his well-being.  If we're going to bring these dogs into the world and sell them we need to take the time to ensure that they are safe and well taken care of.  Too much to ask?  I don't think so.  And if it's too daunting of a task either slow down your breeding program so that you can keep track of your dogs or quit breeding.

     "She was a great help in getting Mav on the podium where he belonged and taught me alot (sic) about the breed and the show world."

     This statement was made in reference to the breeder of this dog.  Of course the breeder is going to help get a dog into the show ring, another champion, grand champion and Westminster shown dog is a boon to her breeding program; however, it seems unfair that after allowing this dog to go to such a poor home that now the breeder reaps the benefits of this dog's reputation.

     The most egregious part of this dog being called a rescue is that he is even in the breed ring at all.  I've never known a rescue group that does not demand that all dogs be neutered or spayed and as we all know, only intact dogs may be shown in the conformation ring.  The fact that this dog was not neutered within the first few weeks of his acquisition leads me to believe that there was never any intention of neutering him and, in fact, he was purchased to be a show dog, not rescued for the sake of rescue.

     "It's like I tell everyone who knows Maverick.  You may not end up with a show winning champion, but when you open your home and your heart to a rescue, you'll certainly feel like one..."

     No, they won't end up with a show winning champion, because their rescue will be neutered or spayed and to mislead the public into thinking that their rescue could be shown in the conformation ring is totally giving the wrong impression of what rescue is all about.

     I don't know if Maverick has been or will in the future be used as a stud dog, but there again could be another misuse of the term rescue dog, as part of the goal of rescue is to ensure that these dogs that have been ill-used and neglected do not have the chance to reproduce and allow their offspring to fall to the same fate.

     I wish Maverick the best  of luck at the Westminster show, but I wish his current owner would not refer to him as a rescue and I hope his breeder has learned a lesson that will make her more careful in the placement of her puppies and her efforts to make sure that they have good homes for their entire lives.

     My purpose of writing this post is to get people thinking about this dog and rescue so that if the opportunity arises they can educate the public correctly about rescue and what it entails and does not entail.

     Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts.


  1. thank you for such an insightful post!

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  3. Yes, June, this post IS insightful. I learned a lot from reading it, and am glad for Nina's perspective, especially after hearing the story through Dan's eyes.

    I have to say I'm still glad Dan got Maverick out of that wretched situation.

    But I'm now more conscious of how the breeder didn't go ALL OUT to find Maverick, as she should have.

    As for not neutering Mav, it is odd that a rescuer would not have automatically done that. He says he didn't initially think of showing Mav (see http://petsadviser.com/dog-shows/abused-weimaraner-maverick-westminster), but one has to wonder why, then, the dog wasn't fixed.

    I'm going to take the glass-half-full side this time, though, and trust that all the attention Mav is getting will help people see that dogs in need of rescue (whether bought or adopted) have nothing WRONG with them that love and patience can't heal....

    And perhaps it will one day lead to a category in dog shows for neutered/spayed dogs who have been rescued in the technical sense of the word!

    In other words, it may elevate consciousness in the show-dog world. That can only be a good thing!

  4. Of course Maverick was a rescue dog! How can you possibly nitpick about this? He came from an atrocious, life-threatening situation where a cruel, uncaring owner left him to rot in a crate. He was RESCUED by Dan and given another chance at life. I cannot believe that you are so closed minded that just because a dog happens to be "pure bred," and comes from a champion line that you think his terrible situation doesn't warrant him as being rescued. Open your mind and your heart. All dogs, no matter what bloodlines they carry deserve loving homes. To scoff at what Dan did for this dog is wrong. If you want to blame someone, blame the owner who did this to Maverick. Blame breeders who seek mega profits from puppy sales. Blame elitest dog show people who only allow intact males and females to be shown. But to find fault with Maverick and Dan is just plain wrong.

  5. Thanks Nina for taking the time to post what rescue is really like. That said, it does not lessen that Maverick is in a better situation... just not a true rescue.

  6. Just to clarify since so many people don't understand the show dog world and purebreeds... It's not just a "beauty pageant". The sole reason for conformation and dog shows is to evaluate breeding stock. They are to promote responsible reputable breeding...continuing healthy lines, improving the good qualities within a breed (not to create these new "designer" breeds.) So you see, that is why only purebred intact dogs get shown... serves no purpose to evaluate a dog that can't reproduce.

    Dogs who come from reputable breeders USUALLY get taken back by their breeder and rehomed. Rescues exist for strays, or those from byb'ers and puppymills who wont take back their own and do the right thing.
    So yes, to not "nitpick" Maverick was "rescued" by Dan, but not in the way most rescue organizations work...