Costa Mesa-based German Shepherd rescue group says facts gathered before adoption

Pia and Leo Bernal were looking to find a puppy, preferably through adoption.

Having obtained approval to adopt German Shepherd Saves Orange Countythe couple drove from San Diego to Costa Mesa a few Saturdays ago to pick up 5-month-old Kodie from the organization’s bake sale held at Centinela Feed and Pet Supplies.

“We checked all the rescues we could find,” said Leo Bernal. “We were looking almost every day all over Southern California and came here, rather than a breeder, and found Kodie.”

“It’s shocking that beautiful dogs like these need a home,” added Pia Bernal.

Twenty-five years ago, Maria Dales, who has always had a deep love for animals, especially dogs, founded the nonprofit Costa Mesa which is committed to saving purebred German Shepherds. pure.

GSROC (German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County) founder Maria Dales helps sell homemade cookies, cakes, lemon bars, chocolate cherry biscotti and more as part of an effort to raise money for the nonprofit to keep dogs out of shelters.

(Susan Hoffman)

“We have rehomed over 10,000 dogs since the start,” Dales explained. “There is a need for homes for large breeds. Shelters are overcrowded with German Shepherds, mostly because they are not necessarily understood.

Dales explained that people often bring the breed home for the wrong reasons.

“The dog will not always fit into the family unit. You can’t expect to bring a German Shepherd home and expect them to settle down and cuddle up,” Dales said. “We are matchmakers and like to place the best possible home for the personality.

“For example, if you’re elderly or disabled, we’re not going to put you with an active dog,” she said. “Or, if you work full time, you shouldn’t have a puppy.”

Dales pointed out that getting a dog under the wrong circumstances is the reason so many people are abandoned.

Currently, shelters are struggling to place many rescue dogs, not just German Shepherds, Dales said, but all large breed dogs.

“There are unprecedented numbers of people giving up dogs,” Dales said. “The system is not able to absorb the numbers which are big dogs.”

She noted that it’s easier to house five or six pugs in a foster family, for example, than five or six German Shepherds.

“All lifeguards go through this and there’s no way to absorb it,” Dales said. “It’s an unusual time – so many unwanted dog influxes into shelters.”

Volunteer and adoptive mother Natalie Wilhelm cuddles two Belgian Malinois, Diana Ross and Cicely Tyson, right.

Foster mom and volunteer Natalie Wilhelm cuddles with two Belgian Malinois, 4-month-old siblings, at the recent German Shepherd Rescue Orange County fundraiser held at Cintenela Feed Costa Mesa.

(Susan Hoffman)

She noted that backyard farming, as well as people taking on pets during the pandemic while working from home, then deciding they couldn’t keep them once they got back to the office, played a role in the overcrowding of shelters.

Other reasons given for a dog to be turned over to a shelter include the death of an owner, an allergic child, unforeseen costs, the time it takes to raise the animal, or an incompatibility between the animal. and housekeeping.

“Our organization currently has over 100 dogs and puppies who rely on us,” Dales said. “We place them in foster homes and boarding kennels that pay $25 a night. Our own kennel can house 34 dogs, mostly elderly and disabled. Whenever we have an opening we fill it, dogs come to us from shelters or from a private party that cannot keep them. Most rescuers cannot afford boarding dogs and must rely on foster families.

Volunteers Lisa Viger with Malachi, left, and Helena Bui with Madeline at a fundraising event for GSROC.

Volunteers Lisa Viger with Malachi, left, and Helena Bui with Madeline at a fundraising event for GSROC held at Cintenela Feed in Costa Mesa.

(Susan Hoffman)

Recently, the shelter picked up two German Shepherds, Malachi and Madeline, two 18-month-old siblings, from a high-mortality shelter. “They were in two different wings and because our alert volunteer noticed similar ID numbers, we put them together to stay together,” Dales said. “We raised funds to be able to hire a special trainer. After all, if someone is going to adopt two big dogs, we want to give them the best possible start.

She explained that fundraising in the form of bi-monthly bake sales is the group’s primary mode of support, along with relying on volunteers.

Dales recommends that the potential pet owner make an informed decision before committing to adoption. It is necessary when planning to get large breeds like German Shepherds to gather as much information beforehand by studying and learning about the breed. Young dogs, in particular, need leadership, training, and discipline.

Dales believes giving a pet a home should be considered guardianship rather than ownership because of the responsibility involved in caring for it.

“It’s not like owning a lawn mower,” she says.

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Elizabeth J. Harless