OUR POLICIES…PLAIN AND SIMPLE
North Atlantic Westie Rescue operates under by-laws approved by our Board of Directors and in compliance with all state regulations and laws in the states we serve. We are also guided by a set of simple, clear principles that we apply to all our work. Take a moment to review our principles. If these principles resonate with you, consider joining our volunteer team.
DOGS FIRST, PEOPLE SECOND.
In rescue, we believe that the needs of our dogs supersede the lifestyle and emotional needs of people. PERIOD.
ALL DOGS DESERVE DIGNITY, IN LIFE AND DEATH.
We believe all dogs deserve to be free from pain caused by medical and behavioral conditions. Our organization, in consultation with our veterinarian partners, euthanizes dogs in our program that have no possibility of living a life without pain. Pain in our program is interpreted as a state that consistently causes physical pain that cannot be managed with medication or long-term behavioral modification.
We believe that dogs with behavioral conditions such as aggression MAY be in pain when they cannot live safely among people. It takes a long period to assess dogs with aggression because we want to be absolutely sure that this is the case. It is not uncommon that dogs with aggression live in foster care for well over a year before making a decision about euthanasia. We work hard to rehabilitate all dogs with aggression, but some of these dogs do not respond to behavioral modification or medication. It is our organization’s position that dogs with severe aggression are in pain and should be liberated from their condition through euthanasia. This is probably the most controversial of our policies, but it’s what we believe. If a dog can’t get through their routine without biting a person, that’s not life with dignity.
ALL DOGS DESERVE TO BE EVALUATED IN FOSTER CARE BEFORE ADOPTION, PREPARING THEM TO BE THE BEST DOG THEY CAN BE.
We do not place dogs in homes without first conducting an evaluation in foster care. We do not believe it is fair to our adopters to pass along problems that are not disclosed through the surrender process. We foster to learn as much as we can about the dogs in our care. The evaluation includes a behavioral assessment, a medical workup including vaccinations, and medical therapy as directed by our veterinarians. We strongly believe that rescue programs that do not evaluate their dogs are setting up those dogs for return to rescue.
ALL EUTHANASIA DECISIONS ARE MADE BY A DIRECTOR, A VETERINARIAN, AND THE FOSTER PARENT.
No one person makes the call to euthanize a dog. No person should handle that burden alone. The decision to put down a dog is not one to be taken lightly. Working together as a team to make that decision not only shares the load of the decision; it also allows for the examination of all alternatives before euthanizing a dog. The veterinarian should be part of the decision-making process before showing up to their office with a euthanasia request.
WE ARE A TEAM.
Our organization believe in team work. No one is the smartest person in the room, from our founder down to our support teams. Teams get things done better than the lone wolf. And it’s more fun.
MAKING MISTAKES IS PART OF LEARNING, AND WE ACCEPT FAILURE AS PART OF LIFE AND FORGIVE EACH OTHER WHEN WE FAIL.
Everyone who does rescue makes mistakes. EVERYONE, no matter how experienced you are, fails at some point. We believe that failure is part of learning and the only way we can improve as a team. Our volunteers support each other through these “mistakes.” We teach each other new things and move on.
OUR VOLUNTEERS CAN VOLUNTEER THEIR TIME TO OTHER RESCUE ORGANIZATIONS WITHOUT REPROACH OR COMMENT.
We know we aren’t the only game in town. There are many other rescue organizations, including other Westie Rescues, and we do not feel we should stand in the way of dogs being rescued. Volunteer for us and whoever you want.
ALL VOLUNTEERS ARE TREATED WITH RESPECT IN RECOGNITION OF THEIR DECISION TO SERVE.
We don’t think we need to explain this. Our volunteers are awesome.
FOSTER PARENTS KNOW THEIR FOSTER DOGS THE BEST AND MAKE THE FINAL CALL ABOUT ADOPTIVE PLACEMENT, EVEN IF THAT MEANS THEY KEEP THEIR FOSTER DOG.
There’s nothing more annoying than fostering a dog and having someone show up at your house and say “I’m here for the dog.” Yeah, we don’t do that. Foster parents are closely engaged in the adoption screening process. Our coordination team presents adoptive candidates to fosters and asks whether they think there is a fit. That’s how important foster care is. If a foster parent wants to adopt, they have that right before any other adopter.
FORMER OWNERS SHOULD BE TREATED WITH RESPECT AND NEVER JUDGED FOR THEIR DECISION (UNLESS THEY ARE BREAKING THE LAW).
When you’re giving up your dog, unless there is reason to believe you are committing a crime, no one should make you feel like you’re a bad person. We’re all human and deserve to be treated with kindness and humility. You don’t have to prove to us that you are a good person. We believe in positive communication. It all goes back to being about our dogs first. By calling us, you are giving your dog a chance at a full, high-quality life. We believe that decision should be celebrated.
WE DON’T TOLERATE UNPROFESSIONALISM.
This is a professional organization. While we are all unpaid, all our volunteer representatives are expected to act professionally at all times. We will not hesitate to terminate our relationship with a volunteer (including a veterinarian) who does not behave professionally toward our former owners, prospective adopters, adopters, and other volunteers. Similarly, we terminate volunteers who violate our volunteer agreement.
Just don’t be mean. The Westies don’t like it.