Dogs are often referred to as man’s best friend for good reason. They are loyal, loving, and make excellent companions. However, sometimes owners are unable to care for their dogs or give them the love and attention they deserve. That’s where Lab Rescue comes in. Lab Rescue is a non-profit organization dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating, and rehoming Labrador Retrievers in South Africa. In this blog post, I have the privilege of speaking with Jane, one of the members of Lab Rescue. Jane shares valuable insights into the organization, the importance of rehoming through a responsible organization, and tips on introducing a new pet to an existing pack.
Please tell me more about Lab rescue? (How many people are involved? How it started? What people need to know?)Most dog breeds have their own specific rescue. As Labs are one of the most popular breeds in the world, there is always a need for a rehoming organization for them. I am one of the founder members of Lab Rescue. We have ladies countrywide who assist with the rehoming of our Labs, there are two in Jhb, two in CT, one in the Eastern Cape and a lady on the Garden Route. Between them they handle all the rehoming. They are unsung heroes, it’s a tough, emotional job and it can really get you down. Our wise leader Sharon Stadler, moved from Jhb to Grahamstown but is still the glue that holds us all together.
As someone who also works in rescue, I can never stress enough how important it is to rehome your pet with the help of an organization. Could you please highlight the importance of going through an Organization/ ensuring the right steps are followed when re-homing a dog. Also please mention your 3-5 most important things to look for when potentially re-homing a dog.
We find that people don’t research the breed, they see the cute puppy on the toilet roll ad and fall in love. Labs are clever, they need stimulation. It’s no accident that they are used as guide dogs, service dogs, for narcotics and explosive detection and for search and rescue. If they are not stimulated they will find something to do, which quite often includes destroying plants, shoes and garden furniture!!
They are great family dogs, but again, they need training. One of our most regular reasons for people surrendering dogs to us is that “he’s jumping on the children and knocking them over”. They are friendly and exuberant and if they are not taught basic manners, they are unruly. A 40kg Labrador jumping up at you is not fun. Because they are clever and totally food focused, they are easy to train.
If someone asks us to rehome their Lab, we make sure it goes to the best home possible. We don’t work on a first come, first served basis, we match dogs to homes. We do strict home checks and no dog goes to a new home without being vaccinated, dewormed and sterilised.
Dog fighting rings are an awful reality and the sub-humans that run these rings like to use Labs as bait because they are not naturally aggressive so they are good “entertainment” Too often, dogs that have been offered “free to a good home” end up in a fighting ring, suffering unimaginably
When we rehome a Lab, we firstly look at the home the Lab came from and assuming that it was a good loving home, we try to simulate that situation in their new home. For example, did the Lab live with children or other dogs, is the dog cat friendly. Were the previous family around most of the time, or is the dog used to being on its own. When doing a home check, we look at the safety of the environment – fences, gates etc, the condition of the other dogs (if any) and where the dog will sleep and what sort of family interaction it will have. We are one of the luckier rescues in that Labs are adaptable and rarely have aggression problems, so are fairly easy to home.
Do you have any advice on steps to follow when introducing a new pet to an existing pack?
When doing an intro to new dogs, we always recommend that this is done on neutral ground, a park or somewhere away from the home, so that the resident dogs don’t feel the need to protect their territory. Once the dogs have been introduced in a calm manner and allowed to check each other out, it’s normally okay to walk them home or put them in a car together. Sometimes there may be a bit of lip lifting from all parties, but we always ask the new families to give the new Lab a good two weeks to settle in and find his place in the home. Remember, his life has been turned upside down and he doesn’t know what’s going on to start with.
Please tell me about your gorgeous pack and how you manage with so many doggos in one home?
I have 7 dogs of my own, 6 Labs and a rescued Scottie. I am a complete sucker for the oldies so my property is a retirement home. I also take in fosters for Lab Rescue and I look after dogs for people who don’t want to use kennels. At the moment I have 3 dogs that are waiting to join their owners overseas. My dogs are used to new friends coming and going. When a newbie arrives, they are introduced one by one to my dogs and there’s normally a period of sniffing and establishing that ANOTHER new dog has arrived and we move on. I maintain a calm atmosphere on the property and if I am calm and relaxed, they are too. (Some days that’s a struggle)
If you would like to mention what the organization needs more of so that those who want to help know what you need.
Lab Rescue, like all animal rescues is always desperate for funds. Our kennelling and vet bills being our largest cost. We are always happy to hear from people that can assist us with fostering if needed. We use a truly wonderful kennel facility, Manderston K9 in Midrand, who really look after our Labs in their care and the vets we use that give us rescue rates are our heroes, specifically Grant Craig and his team at Paulshof vet. Without his help we simply couldn’t operate. Food is also very welcome, we can use it at the kennels.
I hope you found this interview with Jane informative and insightful. The work of Lab Rescue is crucial in ensuring that dogs, specifically Labrador Retrievers, are given the care and love they deserve. As most of us know (but still some don’t) dogs are not just pets; they are family members who require attention, training, and a safe environment to thrive. If you are considering adopting a dog, remember to research the breed and the responsibilities that come with it. And if you are unable to care for your pet, consider rehoming through a responsible organization like Lab Rescue. Lastly, if you are passionate about animal welfare, consider supporting Lab Rescue through donations or volunteering your time. Every little bit helps make a difference in the lives of these wonderful animals.