It’s hard not to smile when you watch an English bulldog in action. They’re brimming with personality and have almost human-like qualities. If you’re about to take the plunge on a new dog for the household and you’re all about low-maintenance, you may want to think twice about adopting this breed. According to the people who rescue English Bulldogs, these dogs need lots of attention and also have more health problems to consider than many other breeds of dogs.
“Rescuing an English Bulldog is more than just rescuing a dog, it’s a lifestyle commitment,” according to Molly Marino president of the Chicago English Bulldog Rescue. ”Because these dogs require a lot of human interaction, you’ll need to be prepared to have a dog walker during the day and you’ll need to plan on coming home right after work for a walk. If these dogs don’t get enough interaction, they can be very destructive.”
Marino adds that because of their build and inbreeding, this breed is very prone to a variety of health issues – skin problems, respiratory issues, pneumonia and ACL issues. All of these conditions add up to lots of medical bills and the need for owners of this breed to find a good veterinarian that truly understands English Bulldogs.
“Unfortunately, Oprah has made it a vogue thing to rescue a pet,” adds Marino. Quite frankly, not everyone is cut out for rescuing and each breed has issues and behaviors that you really need to understand before adopting a dog,” says Marino. “For every dog we place we have 25 to 30 applicants, these are dogs with many imperfections and we work very hard to make the right placement right off the bat. Our return rate is around two-percent, which is unheard of in the animal rescue world.”
What to consider before adopting
Marino has her own list of questions that anyone thinking of adopting any animal should consider –
- What is the one behavior or issue that will be a deal breaker? Some people won’t tolerate barking, others can’t handle any destructive behavior and others may have problems dealing with excess medical issues. Figure out what you just can’t take and use that as a benchmark when looking at breeds and individual dogs.
- How much am I willing to spend over the year? Consider the costs of food, veterinary visit and other costs you may incur.
- How much time am I willing to spend with my new rescue? Certain ages and breeds of animals will take a lot more time, energy and training for a smooth transition.
“We not only rescue from high kill shelters, we also take in owner surrenders from people who have purchased dogs from other places,” says Marino. “The past four or five months, surrenders have been super high and applicants are the lowest they’ve ever been. Because the economy is bad, dogs are coming in faster than we are adopting out. We’ve also seen a lot of dogs that came in from pet stores that the owners just couldn’t afford the vet bills.”
Puppy mill factor
Since the dogs sold at pet stores came from puppy mills, there has been a lot of inbreeding and poor veterinary care for those animals before they ended up in the rescue. That often means extra attention, training and medical care for the dogs before and after their adoptions.
Very special family member
Marino likes to be very upfront about the breed she loves so much when talking to potential adopters because she wants them to truly understand what they are getting into before the adopt. If an English Bulldog is the right fit for you, she says adopting is very rewarding.
“What I love the most about having an English Bulldog is the range of very human emotions you get with this breed,” adds Marino. “They have such bold personalities and can be snarky, playful, loving and really love to give and get tons of attention. Who doesn’t want a fat, loving dog to hug and hang out with?
“It is so rewarding when you can take a challenged dog and see them flourish. Males and females alike really latch onto their people, almost like having a child. They need a lot of attention when they are done eating, going on walks and extra attention due to their medical issues. Because of that, many Bulldogs don’t do well with small children because they just don’t like the competition.”
Meet and greets and Bully Bash
The organization hosts monthly meet-ups around the Chicago-area and Marino does recommend that people stop by and meet the dogs and talk to adopters. It’s the best way to gauge if this is they breed of dog and level of commitment that you want to make. She also suggests stopping by their annual fundraiser – the Bully Bash – on Sunday, October 16 in Oswego. (See event article.)
“It really is a lot of fun to see so many English Bulldogs and watch them run the agility course,” adds Marino. “We have a spa there for the dogs, a parade of the rescue dogs and a costume contest. There will also be tons of vendors and tons of families with their dogs. Its really a great day to come and find out if this is a breed for you and to meet adopters from our community. It’s also just a great all around family day in the park.”
Learn more about upcoming events and how to volunteer or donate online, follow them on Facebook and Twitter.
October is Adopt-A-Shelter Dog Month. During October, we will be looking at various breed rescues, specialized rescues and programs aimed at making a difference for shelter dogs in the Chicago-area. If you know of great programs or rescues you would like us to cover, email me at [email protected]
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