Rescue Frequently asked questions
The Rescue program is a part of the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of Northeastern Illinois, BMDCNI, dedicated to:
1) Educating prospective adopting families about the Bernese Mountain Dog.
2) Assisting owners with behavioral and health issues so that they can keep their dog.
3) Placing orphaned and displaced purebred Bernese Mountain Dogs in responsible, loving homes.
The rescue program serves northern Illinois, and the surrounding Chicago land area. We do not adopt dogs to families who live outside this geographical area and we do not “ship” rescue dogs. All applicants within this geographical area must be able to physically travel to northern Illinois to meet/adopt a rescue dog. We take a lot of time with our rescue dogs and are there to help for their entire lives. It makes sense to keep our rescue dogs near us for post-adoption follow-up.There are Berners in every state looking for good homes, and it is not practical for us to go through extraordinary efforts to place a dog several hundred miles away.
For the period 2003 – 2020, BMDCNI Rescue had 83 Bernese Mountain Dogs in the program. There were 35 females and 48 males. 29 of the 83 dogs (35%) came to Rescue from local animal shelters. The remaining 54 dogs (65%) came to rescue from owners who purchased from pet stores or breeders/kennels of dubious background.
1 dog was returned to Rescue, 6 yrs. after adoption, due to the owner’s bad health and financial instability. Due to the age of the dog and on-going senior health issues, Rescue deemed this dog a “permanent foster” in 2012. He passed away in 2016.
1 dog was transported back to the breeder and 5 dogs were euthanized due to temperament.
77 dogs have found their forever homes through Rescue.
Owners who are having problems with their dog should contact BMDCNI Rescue. Often, there are resources available that can help owners keep their dogs. This is in the best interest of the Berner, who loves this family. We have knowledgeable volunteers and resources who are able to assist training and behavior issues.In situations where owners can no longer continue to care for their dog, the first step is to review the contract and paperwork that came with the dog. All reputable breeders should take responsibility for every puppy they produce and be willing to take back their dogs, regardless of age or circumstance. If a breeder is unwilling to or unable to assist, the owner should contact BMDCNI Rescue.At a mutually convenient time, rescue volunteers will meet with the owner to complete their evaluation for acceptance into the rescue program. The evaluation helps to identify the right foster family as well as list any special needs or limitations the dog requires. The meeting covers topics such as health, food, training and general behavior.
A few days after the evaluation, with BMDCNI Board approval, the dog can be moved into foster care.
At the time of owner surrender to the rescue program, owners are required to provide the following:
1. Copies registration papers and contracts
2. Copies of all veterinary records
3. A bag of dog food
BMDCNI Rescue will happily accept any toys, dog treats, bowls, crates, etc., that the dog has used. Keeping familiar things around the dog while in foster care helps make the adjustment easier for the dog. If at all possible, a monetary donation to rescue is appreciated.
Lastly, owners sign an Owner Surrender Form, giving BMDCNI Rescue ownership of the dog.
The rescue adoption process begins with a home visit. Applicants agree to meet with rescue volunteers at a mutually convenient time, so that we can get to know one another. All family members, including pets, participate in the meeting. This helps Rescue to assess the best placement for the rescued dogs. Not all Berners are suited for every family. Conversely, not all families are suited for rescued. Berners. We work very hard to ensure the rescued dog goes to the home where the Berner can best succeed.
The following requirements apply:
1. A fenced in backyard so the dog can exercise. In those cases where local covenants prohibit fencing, consideration will be given to a dog run of sufficient size to accommodate a Berner and its exercise needs. Electronic fencing is not preferable as most often a Berner will ignore the pain to get what he’s after.
2. We require crate training for all of our rescue dogs. Crate training ensures the safety of the rescued Berner, any other pets, and your property while you are away from the house.
3. Depending on the needs of the individual dog, at least one, formal obedience training class will be required. This helps the bonding process between dog and owner and helps the dog to settle into his new home.While you may think our requirements are strict, keep in mind that the rescue dog has already been a statistic once and we do everything in our power to prevent that from happening again.
Upon completion of the home visit, approved applicants are invited to participate in a “meet and greet” with the rescue Berner. All family members and current dogs come to a neutral location to meet the Berner. This gives everyone an opportunity to interact in a safe environment. More often than not, the animals themselves determine whether or not the adoption moves forward. Applicants are then asked to think things over for a day or so. If there is anything that the applicants, foster family or rescue representatives dislike or are uneasy about, the adoption does not proceed. Applicants are then in line for the next suitable rescue dog. It’s only when all parties are in agreement that the adoption continues forward.
At the time of adoption, the rescue dog is healthy, altered, up to date on vaccinations and micro-chipped. More often than not, the rescue dog knows a variety of obedience commands and walks well on a leash. A copy of all veterinary records is provided to the adopter, so that the dog’s medical history can be shared with the adopter’s vet.
Owners sign a legally binding contract which the training requirements stipulated above, as well as any specific items related to that rescue dog. An adoption fee applies to every dog. It is based on the age of the dog as well as the amount of veterinary care provided. This ensures we have the funds available to treat future rescue dogs.
A BMDCNI Rescue representative may examine and inquire about the dog at any time. If the representative is not satisfied with the conditions in which the dog is being kept, Rescue may reclaim the dog immediately.
If at any time, the owner wishes to relinquish custody of the rescue dog, the owner shall return the dog to the BMDCNI Rescue Program. The Rescue Program is responsible for each and every dog it takes in for the duration of the dog’s life.