Like all rescues, Barks of Love aims to place every one of their rescued pets into homes, but for this Orange County based dog-only rescue group, the primary focus is on match-making rather than merely adoptions. Barks of Love's careful match-making process helps ensure that each dog finds the right forever home from the get-go, keeping the pups out of the shelter/rescue system indefinitely. A challenging task, but it's one that Barks of Love President, Paige Lefever, is certainly up for.
Paige took few moments out of her busy day saving dogs to tell us more about their volunteer-run organization and how all of us can help support rescue groups who are working hard to find pets their forever homes.
Barks of Love is a 100% no kill rescue group. How do you manage this amazing accomplishment?
We are also a Volunteer Based rescue and we have an amazing staff of dedicated volunteers who spend their free time pulling dogs from shelters, evaluating owner surrenders, screening fosters, attending events, and screening adopters. By placing our dogs in foster care we are able to take our time in finding the right home for our dogs. Our fosters and our volunteer staff are truly the key to saving these dogs and keeping them out of high-kill shelters.
Your rescue has a very hands-on approach when it comes to adoptions. What are some of the steps that Barks of Love takes to ensure that an adoption will be successful?
We start with an extensive application. This allows us to know if they are a good match on paper for the dog they are applying for. For example: if we have a dog who is an escape artist and an applicant says they have a 4' wood fence around their property we know we are already setting that dog up for failure. We also contact all references: if they are a renter we contact their landlord to ensure there will be no complications with lease agreements which could lead to a dog being returned. We conduct a home check where we can make sure the home is secure and it also allows us to have an in depth conversation with the applicant about the dog. We will spend as much time as it takes to ensure the adopter is comfortable and we are comfortable. The last step is a meet and greet. We want to make sure it's a good energy match, a good chemistry match and that the dogs and family all get along. We do not pressure our applicants, if they need to time to think it over, we allow them that. We would rather do multiple meet ups then set a dog up to fail and come back to us. We really get to know our adopters and it shows in our continued relationships after adoption, and our low return rate.
As Barks of Love doesn't have one physical location, where do the dogs stay while they're in the adoption process?
All of our dogs are in Foster Care. We have a group of dedicated fosters who open their homes to our dogs and take amazing care of them. They help with housebreaking, basic obedience, socialization and for our shelter rescues they help desensitize these dogs and give them a safe place to decompress and learn what it's like to live in a home again.
Where does Barks of Love find their rescue dogs?
We get our dogs from multiple sources, we pull from high kill shelters all over Southern California. We also accept Owner Surrenders when we have an available foster. We will also take in strays once the finder has exhausted all options of finding their owner.
How can an average person help support Barks of Love?
There are many ways to help! We accept monetary donations which go towards shelter pull fees, medical care for our fosters, food and supplies. We also accept goods donations: toys, crates, potty pads, food, treats, blankets, collars/leashes, etc. People interested in helping can also volunteer by helping at Adoption Events, transporting dogs to events or vet appointments, as well supporting with home checks and other administrative tasks. And of course they can always help by becoming a Foster for our rescue pups!
What words of advice do you have to anyone considering fostering or adopting a rescue pet?
I would urge them to really make sure this is the right choice for them. Not everyone can Foster—it's hard. You fall in love with these dogs and all of our fosters are my heroes! Watching them take a dog in without a thought or question and love them as if they were their own, and then watching them wipe the tears away as they say goodbye to that same dog as it goes off to its forever home before following up with "let me know when you have a new pup for me"... I'm in awe every time! For adopters I would ask them to have patience with their new family member. Many of these dogs have been shuffled around from home to home to shelters before coming to us. They are often confused and it takes them some time to settle in, but once they do it is the most rewarding feeling knowing you saved a dog. And because you adopted this dog, we can rescue another dog and keep it out of a shelter.
What's your favorite story about a Barks of Love adoptee?
That's easy, Magic Mike. Before joined Barks of Love Mikey was rescued from Orange County Animal Care. He was dog selective and needed socialization. He bounced around foster families, through no fault of his own, and ended up in boarding. He was in our rescue for about two years and while we processed multiple applications and screened multiple homes we just weren't finding the right place for him. Until last fall when the perfect adopter fell into our laps. He was the absolute perfect match for Mikey and is taking the best care of him. Knowing he is in such an amazing home makes all the hard work and dedication our fosters and volunteers put in worth it! I smile every time I see a picture of Mike and his new dad because I know we couldn't find a better place for him.
By Sara Stuart
To learn more about Barks of Love and to see how you can help please visit: BarksOfLove.org.
To watch one of their touching adoptions by a "foster failure" (when a foster dog parent adopts the dog they were fostering), watch this video.
About the Author
Sara Stuart is a lifelong animal lover with a passion for rescue pets. Sara lives in Los Angeles, California with her family, including the head of her house–an adopted corgi mix, Buddy Cruiser.