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Cocker Spaniel Rescue

Finding the Ideal Home for your Rescued Cocker

It’s time. The rescued cocker is fully evaluated - shows no sign of aggression, tolerates cats, makes good eye contact, is housebroken and has fairly good manners. Your organization decides it’s time to find this deserving dog a home. The ideal outcome for each dog should be a safe, loving, permanent home.


Internet postings of rescue dogs have changed the adoption process completely. In a recent placement, four people responded to Internet postings, two to an ad in the paper and two from word of mouth. The dog was adopted by one family who responded to the Internet listing on a rescue home page. They live in the same state - but about 2 hours away. The features of the listing that caught their attention were
  1. it was a cocker (they had owned cockers before)
  2. the area code of the contact phone number located the dog within a reasonable drive and
  3. that the dog was older and neutered.
The establishment of the Cocker Spaniel Rescue Home page will provide one a free opportunity for advertising your rescue contact information. List your geographic location and a contact person - the ASC will post regular features of rescue dogs, so you can even send a color picture (or a .jpg file). The advantage to listing the dog on the World Wide Web is that it’s free, takes very little time, reaches a surprisingly large, focused audience and you can be quite descriptive.

A nice, generic advertisement in the newspaper works well too. Many newspapers and “Pennysaver” publications will run free ads for non-profit organizations. Something like:

Cocker Spaniel Rescue has great dogs needing good homes! Adoption fee and contract required. Please call: Your Name, phone number, email@yourprovider.net

If you are associated with a local, organized rescue group, they likely have monthly adoption clinics. If your rescue dog is up to the public, social setting - this can be a good way to generate interest in the dog. More likely, you’ll do good public relations – establishing that purebred cockers need rescue and that you are a good contact person for interested adoptive families.

Lastly, you can post flyers in veterinary offices, pet supply stores and on community bulletin boards - ask permission.


The first contact with a potential adopter is usually a phone call - and increasingly, an email letter! The initial screen usually helps you separate serious inquiries from those just calling for information on the breed (this happens a lot, actually - this is the part about rescue also being an advocacy for cocker spaniels!)

The phone screen should result in this information trade:
  • Name, address, and phone number
  • Have you ever owned a cocker? Male or Female? (If you have never owned one, it is best to get a male)
  • If you have never owned one, why have you decided to own one?
  • Cockers must have obedience training and must be kept under control, in fenced yards or in crates and kennels - they are house dogs - they DO NOT do well tied up or kenneled outside all the time.
  • They make exceptionally good housedogs because they want nothing better than being with their owners.
  • hey must never be encouraged to become aggressive.
  • Suggest some good books to read.
The goal here is to trade important information about cocker spaniels as a breed and screen out people just interested in those sad-eyed, floppy-eared dogs like their neighbor has. If the interested party is still interested, you can:
  • send them an Adoption Application
  • explain the mechanics of an adoption (application, home visits, contracts)
The adoption application serves as a way to get potential adopters to think about the responsibilities underlying dog ownership. If possible, you should include a home visit and always provide a contract with any rescue. Many potential adopters are dismayed at these requirements - and should be screened out consequently. If the family interviews well on the first phone call and is eager to see the dog, you can set up a meeting and get them to fill out an Adoption Application when they arrive before seeing the dog.

It is important to keep control of the situation and be able to say NO to people who aren’t suitable or ready for a cocker spaniel. It helps to have “hoops” for these families to jump through so they understand the importance and permanence of their decision. It is not something that should be decided one evening because the dog is cute. But, remember, for that ideal family - this is an exciting, wonderful experience - being too harsh or judgmental may turn them off or cause them to be wary of future rescue contacts.


You’ve screened through your adoption applications. You’ve found the perfect home! Now you must ensure that the dog stays in the ideal home that you’ve found for it. This is a two-way street - you must educate the new family about the dog (the general cocker characteristics and the individual dog’s behavior and health), you must evaluate the home, and you must place the dog with a contract.

We highly recommend home visits before placement. If this is not possible, get a colleague to stop over and visit. Again, you’re just trying to confirm in person what the evaluations indicate.

The Adoption contract usually covers transfer of ownership of said dog (name, age, sex), issues of liability, any spay/neuter obligations, special health needs will be provided, and that the dog will be returned to you if the adoptive home can no longer care for it. Again, using a contract stresses the seriousness of placing and adopting a dog.

When you deliver the dog to its new home - make sure that these items are available:
  • collar, identification and leash
  • current food so that new owner can use it or mix to transition the diet
  • veterinary records and forms outlining transfer of ownership
  • detailed instructions on any special veterinary care
  • your name, phone number for any consulting necessary as the dog adjusts
  • literature that you’ve written up specifically for this dog, or general guidelines to rescued dog behavior
  • referrals to local obedience trainers or schools (depending on the situation, I like some homes to provide evidence that they are registered for an obedience class)
  • a camera (to record your happy ending!)
You should do an adoption follow-up. Some organizations require follow-ups 30, 60 and 120 days after adoption to ensure that the adoptive home is working for all concerned. These contacts often serve as “consulting” opportunities for behaviors encountered. Keeping the lines of communication open will likely increase the chance that the new home is permanent.

If you have been scrupulous in following these guidelines, in using the disclaimers and forms and contracts in the proper order, and in screening it is likely that you have carried out the IDEAL COCKER SPANIEL RESCUE! You have found a happy ending for a deserving cocker spaniel. You have represented the cocker spaniel breed admirably. You have probably converted some unsuspecting family into cocker enthusiasts. You may have advertised your efforts well enough to raise more money for cocker rescue efforts.

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