Rescue Guidelines











The English Cocker Spaniel Club of America, Inc. established its own Rescue program in 1989 for the primary purpose of rescuing purebred English Cockers at risk, be they in shelters, other rescue groups or from private owners who can no longer care for them. ECSCA-RP also is a mechanism by which owners can be counseled to see if rehoming can be avoided. Not all dogs can or should be rescued, for example, dogs with serious temperament issues, but each situation is evaluated individually. Dogs are not turned down simply due to age or disability.

The ECSCA, Inc. constantly strives to involve its member breeders in its rescue efforts, and seeks their support and assistance. The mere existence of this program provides members to follow prudent breeding and selling practices. As a courtesy, member breeders are generally notified if a dog of theirs is in need. Hopefully such breeders will then assist in the rehoming of said dog and/or to take some responsibility for the dog’s welfare. However, the dog is always our primary concern.

Any dog that comes into an approved ECSCA foster home receives appropriate veterinary care, temperament evaluation, socialization and rehabilitation before being placed. Temperament evaluation is done in a general fashion by us as knowledgeable breed fanciers, but professional consultation is sought when necessary.  Foster care can vary from a period of a two week minimum to many months. ECSCA-RP also makes it a high priority to attempt to find owners of lost or stray animals that come to our attention.

Veterinary care includes a thorough exam, rabies and distemper (5 way) inoculations (based on latest guidelines), test and/or treatment and preventive if needed for intestinal parasites, heartworm and fleas and ticks. We do treat dogs if they are positive for heartworm. Dental care is given at the time of neutering or other surgical procedure or if there are urgent dental problems that needs attention. Bordatella is given on a case by case basis. Any current medical problem is evaluated and treated at least to a stage of reasonable stability, and/or to a stage where a prognosis and understanding of future care can be appropriately determined. Microchips are implanted as much as possible.

All intact dogs are neutered if medically and age appropriate. We never rehome dogs for potential breeding nor do we (re)sell any dog no matter what its pedigree. Even dogs that we rehome directly from private owners will be neutered before placement unless precluded by health, age or other exigent circumstances

Our adoption fee is based on age and does not change for non purebred dogs. We do not place dogs merely to find homes but to find the right homes. We aim to set and maintain the highest standard among rescue groups.


What is a rescue dog?

When determining what dogs to rescue, keep in mind that the primary purpose of ECSCA-RP is to rescue any “adoptable” stray, abandoned, or potentially homeless English Cocker (see Potential Rescue Dogs), especially one that might suffer or die needlessly without our help. The decision to rescue or assist in rescuing other dogs should be based on availability of resources, e.g. foster homes, funds and urgency.

There are three basic types of rescue dogs: those in to a shelter, with other rescue groups or vets, strays turned in by a private person, or those belonging to private parties.


Those in a kill shelter are our highest priority. However, even when not in a kill shelter, dogs are at risk of disease and stress and may be erroneously labeled as fear biters, etc. Also many “non-kill” shelters still euthanize old and somewhat ill dogs that are not felt to be adoptable.


Shelters and other rescue groups list dogs on sites like and and automatic updates can be sent to subscribers whenever an English Cocker is posted. Many other shelters have their own websites and are not on Petfinders. It would be ideal if volunteers could check such sites in their locale at least weekly. Maintaining relations with shelters and other rescue groups (especially cocker rescues) in a volunteer’s area will increase the likelihood of being notified if an ECS lands in its facility. Also, whenever possible, shelter websites can be searched for dogs labeled as any spaniel or spaniel mix to make sure they are not an ECS being misidentified.

Dogs with other groups that are in foster homes are less at risk and thus a lower priority. In fact, it is less likely that such dogs would be turned over to us anyway. However, some groups are better than others at understanding our breed and screening appropriately for homes. In any case, if it is determined that the dog is safe and well cared for, proceed as in shelter dogs as to options (see Shelter Dogs.)


Sometimes a private individual who finds such a dog does not wish to surrender it to a shelter and/or cannot keep the dog while its owner is sought and will ask ECSCA-RP to take it instead.


These account for a significant number of dogs which come to the attention of ECSCA-RP. They are important because they may fall into the wrong hands, especially if intact and/or being  offered “free to good home.” Owners are often not aware of the dangers of such advertisements. For this reason, rescue volunteers (RV) are encouraged to initiate contact with such owners and peruse sites such as, classifieds and craigslist to scout for such listings. Private owners that are desperate might also relinquish their dog  to a shelter or even have the dog put to sleep.

Owner give ups fall in the following categories in order of urgency:

A) dogs that need an ECSCA-RP foster home: these are dogs which the owner cannot keep whilst a new home is being sought (and whose breeders are not known or will not or cannot reclaim them.)  (See Breeder Involvement.) Owners sign these dogs over to ECSCA-RP and the dogs are placed in foster homes.

B) dogs which can be kept by their owners and placed directly into a new adoptive home. Although these dogs are of a lower priority, owners often have abrupt change of heart and then the situation will be “urgent.”

b1) dogs that breeders wish to place (not sell), are prioritized based on urgency and need, e.g. illness of breeder, move, death of spouse, etc. These truly aren’t rescue dogs but are similar to (B) but for the fact that the breeder has resources the private owner does not and the breeder is primarily responsible for this dog.


Of all of these circumstances, the one most commonly encountered in our breed is puppies in pet shops. However as to auctions, AKC policy states:

“The American Kennel Club discourages Parent Club rescue groups from purchasing dogs at auctions. Although Parent Clubs may be doing good things for individual dogs purchased at auctions, it perpetuates the problem and tends to create a seller’s market. Reciprocally, auctioneers seek more dogs of those breeds to offer at auctions. AKC applauds the work of Parent Club rescue groups on many fronts. However, AKC believes that the purchasing of dogs at auctions is not overall in the best interest of purebred dogs.”

Therefore, as tempting as it may be, ECSCA-RP does NOT bid on or purchase dogs in auctions or pet shops in order to “rescue” them and ECSCA-RP dissuades members from doing the same. If someone elects to purchase any dog at their own expense, ECSCA-RP does not have any obligation to reimburse said person nor to foster said dog but certainly may assist in rehoming efforts.

Should an ECS ever be offered as a prize in any venue, the ECSCA Board shall contact the responsible parties as soon as possible to voice its strong opposition. An attempt should be made to pinpoint the origin of the dog and to determine if the source knowingly sold or donated the dog for this purpose. Appropriate action should then be taken. (See Breeder Involvement and DNA List.)

An example of a rare time rescue might consider the purchase of a dog would be when someone is casually or carelessly selling breeding stock to close their operation (not just to downsize.) Sometimes these dogs are offered at prices that are quite low. Such dogs must be considered at risk for potential mishandling. Fortunately, these cases have not yet involved member breeders.


There are dogs in this category that ECSCA-RP may wish to rescue depending on the dog’s risk, health and temperament. These dogs include: “probably” field bred (as identified by at least one member of our field committee), American/English mix, or “looks close enough” or “too hard to be sure.” In a perfect world only 100% purebred English cockers would be rescued but inevitably, dogs in this category are brought into rescue program by a well-meaning rescue volunteer either without prior clearance or via honest misidentification. The Rescue Chair and Rescue Board must take care to judiciously monitor and limit the entry of such dogs, but having a zero tolerance for same is not realistic.


The first thing to do when contacted about a dog is to ascertain that the dog IS indeed an English Cocker. Make sure the custodians of the dog are actually looking at their AKC papers when they swear they are registered as English Cockers. Many people think they have or have been told they have English Cockers but the dogs are American Cockers. Some owners can be quite insistent. If papers or other convincing documentation is not available, the dog must be identified by a picture or by first hand identification by a person knowledgeable of the breed.

If the breeder of the dog is known or can be ascertained, proceed as outlined in the section on Breeder Involvement.


Once it is established that the dog is an ECS, the rescue volunteer needs to start the assessment and intake process. A form for “owner give-ups” can be found at here. It is a useful guide to what topics should be covered for taking in dogs from any source, although less data will be available for shelter dogs. There is a separate form for stray dog intake.

Using these tools coupled with the recommendations below, a decision must be made as to whether this dog sounds like a potentially suitable companion.


If a dog is with another rescue group or agency and is not in danger, ECSCA-RP may elect to leave the dog there and offer assistance to that agency. There is no reason to take a dog out of a good foster home unless the organization that has the dog welcomes such help. Assistance can include:

  • Positively identifying the dog as an ECS
  • Helping with grooming and/or temperament assessment
  • Referral of good homes
  • Courtesy posting on our website
  • Financial assistance if there is a hardship or to help make the dog more readily adoptable
  • Offering to foster, transport or do home checks
  • Assisting with lost and found issues (see Lost and Found) and/or trying to identify the breeder (confirm that a universal scan was used to check for microchips and ask if there are any tattoos present. )

Be forewarned that many groups will NOT welcome our involvement and will not cooperate at all. Information about breeders or previous owners is usually not available nor willingly shared. It may require some gentle persuasion. Attempt to clarify that such information is used so that ECSCA-RP might keep track of the source of available dogs and that such dogs will not be resold or used for breeding if they are released to us.


Whether such dogs come through shelters or elsewhere, a good faith effort to find the owner should be undertaken (see Lost and Found.)  Make sure the dog is checked for a tattoo or for a microchip with a universal scanner. Use the form for stray dog intake to document what the finder did to look for an owner and to confirm that this is not their dog (to spare a lot of wasted time.)


Take care not to harshly judge or offend the owner or force them to become defensive. Your aim is to help the dog. Try to let the owners talk as much as possible and ask open-ended questions. For example, a question like “Is your dog aggressive to strangers?” is not as good as “How is your dog when guests come over?” Make sure to follow any loose threads e.g.  how does he show he is an “alpha” dog or what does it mean by “ he doesn’t like to be crated?” Always remember that it is not uncommon for people to over or under represent a problem behavior the dog might have.

Before ending the interview, attempt to brainstorm with the owner about ways they might keep the dog. Review options they may not have considered or help them find resources to help solve the problem. If release is deemed the best option, attempt to speak to any life partners, spouses or significant others in the household to make sure that all responsible parties are willing to give up the dog. Speaking directly to the owner’s vet can help elucidate or uncover (other) health and temperament problems.

If the owner can hold the dog until the right home is found, discuss the option of “rehoming.” In such a case, appropriate pre-screened adopters can be directly referred to the owner. ECSCA-RP contracts are not used in this case as this constitutes a transaction between two private individuals. The dog can be placed on our website as a “private owner give up.” If there is reason to feel that the owner cannot or will not adequately screen applicants, the Adoption Coordinator should be listed as the contact for that purpose. It may be advisable, if not desirable, for a rescue volunteer to see the dog so that a screener can represent the dog accurately and to determine if placement is more urgent or if coming into foster care is more advisable.

Whether the dog is to be rescued or especially when it is to be rehomed, owners should bring the dog’s routine health care up-to-date, including neutering. All veterinary information should be collected and be available in time for transfer. If the owner cannot or will not neuter the dog, it is strongly advised to bring the dog into foster care (see Intact Dogs.)

As stated on our webpage, ECSCA-RP is not responsible if the behavior or health of a dog is misrepresented by the owner and those adopting directly must be so advised. Encourage the potential direct adopter to contact the owner’s vet. It should also emphasized that this is not an ECSCA-RP rescue dog, but that ECSCA-RP is merely acting as a go-between. Still, ECSCA-RP should remind the adopter that if the dog doesn’t work out, they should contact us to help rehome the dog again.


Whether to accept or rehome a dog in this category will ultimately depend on the availability of a willing and appropriate foster home that can assess and manage the problem or need. If the dog is already in foster care when a troublesome behavior arises, the Rescue Board must decide whether to move the dog to another location, weighing the expense and rehabilitation potential. Consultation with a behaviorist can be sought as well (ECSCA-RP has a relationship with DOG’S BEST FRIEND TRAINING in WI for reduced rate phone consultations.)

Any dog deemed unstable or dangerous should not be accepted but biting alone is not an automatic reason for disqualification. Rescue volunteers should get as much detail as possible about aggressive behaviors including the onset, exact circumstances under which they occur, and possible triggers. If biting is the issue, assess the severity and number of documented bites, i.e. how deep is the bite, was there a warning growl, etc. The presence of children in the home makes removing the dog more urgent. Intake Coordinators should be reasonably conversant with this issue as well as other common behaviors such as separation anxiety.

Some feel it is best to take possession of a dangerously aggressive dog just to make sure it is put down if the owner seems unwilling to do so. Many “bad” behaviors will change in a foster home and can be better evaluated and controlled there.

Dogs are not declined solely because of age, blindness, deafness. or other illnesses/disabilities. Dogs with any of these or multiple issues are usually in foster care longer and, again, someone must be willing to commit or even keep such dogs. To read a good article about selecting and placing dogs go to (it will appear in the appendix.)


Use common sense. If you would not want to live with this dog, that might be reason enough to refuse it but always discuss this with the Rescue Chair (who may elect to put this to a vote of the Rescue Board.) When dealing with dogs with special needs dogs, keep in mind that there are people that have a tolerance or even desire for some dogs that others would not. Some people insist on only adopting a dog in greatest need.

NB: If someone cannot keep their dog because of medical costs that is very sad, but Rescue will not pay for the care of a private dog.


On occasion, an owner of an ECS may have to precipitously relocate for an extended period (e.g. 6-12 months) and be unable to take their dog with them. However, they do not wish to give the dog up and may be desperate for a solution. While ECSCA-RP is certainly not a place to board dogs and foster homes are at a premium, ECSCA-RP has helped to find accommodations for such dogs by networking. The dog is usually taken in by someone with whom the owner will work directly. The owner is responsible for checking out the person thoroughly and drawing up terms of the “custody” agreement with said person.


Release forms must be signed when accepting a private or stray dog into rescue. If the dog is being picked by ECSCA-RP make sure to take the release papers with you or have them signed and delivered before transfer. Shelters and other rescue organizations may have their own forms which can be substituted(if not use our form.) The release form is also at Rescue Forms (see Quick Guide to Rescue Forms.) It is VERY important that the person accepting the dog receives all appropriate information and documents. The release form has a checklist for this purpose. Review the owner give up form to make sure there are no last minute additions or corrections. Make sure to get the name of the dog’s previous veterinarian(s) and groomer and other professionals (behavioral consultant, trainer, etc.) that may have been involved with the dog and may have to be consulted if further information is needed.

Donations from the owner to ECSCA-RP are welcome. Any crates, bedding, etc. turned over with the dog should go with the dog to its new house. If the new owner does not need such items, the foster home may do with them as they see fit.

AKC papers need not be signed over to ECSCA-RP but they should be taken by rescue in order to take them out of circulation. The release form is sufficient evidence of transfer of ownership to ECSCA-RP.

NB: Rescue may refuse to accept a dog from any source if all medical records and other documents are not available. Verbal history of vaccinations is not adequate and once a dog comes to us, getting old information can be very difficult and lead to unnecessary vaccinations and duplication of care


Foster homes are approved by the Chair (or the Foster Care Coordinator.) Candidates can be any ECSCA member, someone known to an ECSCA member or who has good references from another rescue group, veterinarian etc. It is always preferable to have a member of ECSCA house the dog and it is always preferable for a dog to be in a home environment rather than a kennel. Non members must complete a foster home application. (Although the Foster Care Coordinator  may wish to review some of the information on the form with anyone they do not know well.)

If no foster home is immediately available but the dog is to come into ECSCA-RP, ECSCA-RP will find a suitable boarding facility, assume all costs and assign someone to be the local contact. If the dog is placed at a vet’s, vaccinations and other care can commence there. A release form must be signed before transfer. Otherwise, gather the information by phone and fax that along with a copy of our release form to the facility and make sure that they get the owner to sign the form.

On the day of admission into a foster home, the foster person will complete a foster agreement available at Rescue Forms and, in so doing, will acknowledge receipt of the Release documents and any additional information. (It might be advisable for the Foster Care Coordinator to review the terms of this agreement with new foster parents in advance). Once completed, the form should be sent to the Foster Care Coordinator and Rescue Recording Secretary.

If the incoming dog is a stray or shelter dog, it may be advisable to quarantine the dog at a veterinary hospital or in a separate room of one’s house. In no case should a foster parent risk the health and well being of their family or pets to accommodate the rescue dog.

While in foster care, besides evaluating the dog’s suitability as a pet and helping to determine the best type of home for the dog, the foster home will make sure that all of the following is done:

  • Veterinary exam. A complete exam, even if the dog was seen by a vet at a shelter, should be done within 1-3 days of entry into a foster home. If the dog was recently seen by a private owner’s vet, the dog should see a vet before being adopted out as we are ultimately responsible if something is missed. A dog in long term foster care must be seen at least every 6-12 months depending on age or presence of chronic medical problems. All dogs 7 or older (or younger if required by vet) should have a complete blood panel and urine, especially prior to surgery.
  • Microchip. If not already done on a dog of unknown origin, scan for a microchip (with universal scanner) and check for tattoos. If none are present, the dog should be microchipped (this should not be done at any Banfield clinics.) Chips should be registered ASAP with  English Cocker Spaniel Club of America Rescue c/o the Rescue Chair or the ECSCA-member foster home person listed as primary contact. ECSCA-RP has AVID chip forms that are pre-registered to the club/current rescue chair. Early registration is suggested in case the dog goes missing before adoption or before the new owner has a chance to register the dog. (Adopters are added as a second contact and may change to primary after a period of one year.) Also, if a rescue program is noted as an owner, it is hoped that anyone finding the dog will feel more strongly about returning it. It also makes it easy if the adoption doesn’t work out or if the dog changes owners without our knowledge.
  • Heartworm tests. Heartworm tests may be combined with Lyme test in endemic areas. This is probably the most important thing to start with because a positive dog should be spared further surgery and unnecessary vaccinations. Repeat test in 4-6 months if past preventive use is unknown. If heartworm test is negative, start preventive preferably with Interceptor or Heartgard. If dog is in non endemic area, preventive may still be worth starting if we do not know where the dog came from or where it might be placed. If heartworm test is positive, it should be treated according to the standards of the Heartworm Society of America and in consultation with our veterinary consultant.
  • Vaccinations. Do not be too quick to vaccinate if records may still come to us which might prove immunity. Otherwise rabies is first priority. Try to wait a week or two before vaccinating for DHP so as not to overstress the dog’s immune system. The older the dog, the less likely it is to need a booster but with no record, we can’t assume immunity. Titers are fine but not always economical. Bordatella, lyme and leptospirosis vaccines are optional based on geographic needs and those of the foster home or facility.
  • Fecal examinations. Fecal examinations should be done however, especially with stray or shelter dogs. A 3 day course of Panacur (5 days if giardia is suspected) and a dose of  Droncit can be given empirically. (Fecals can be negative even in the presence of worms.) Make sure to repeat wormings as indicated.
  • Neutering. Neutering is, of course, imperative but many vets agree that, especially in the case of a stray dog, there should be a two week waiting period to decrease the amount of stress on the dog or give time to recover from other acute care including vaccinations. (If a potential adopter is considered to be very reliable, a dog may be adopted out before neutering, but a $100 refundable deposit should be collected. This should not be the norm but allows for some flexibility in cases where neutering must be delayed, e.g. a puppy or dog with an ongoing medical issue.) In a similar vein, if a dog is too aged or there would be a health risk to being neutered, the procedure would not be done.
  • Dental. Only for acute problems although any dog that is being neutered or having other surgery can have a routine dental if needed
  • Flea and tick preventive. Give if needed.
  • Grooming. Give as needed.
  • Medical Issues. Check with Rescue Chair or Rescue Vet for treatment for any acute or chronic medical problem that needs attention. The goal is for adopters to be aware of reasonably foreseeable problems after adoption and understand the possible costs and maintenance of the animal. Although, some people are willing to adopt a dog before certain problems have been fully evaluated or treated, it is best for dogs to be as stable as possible. Rescue does not cover routine eye checks or hip checks. The Rescue Board may have to weigh in on how far to pursue a given medical problem.

If the dog is very undernourished when found, be careful not to overfeed or over water the dog initially. All medical and behavioral information accumulated during the foster stay must be shared with the Foster Care Coordinator who will make sure that the dog’s record is complete before allowing the dog to be adopted.

Payment for expenses will be reimbursed by ECSCA-RP (and/or local club treasury, if willing and able), but expenditures beyond the above must be pre-approved by ECSCA Rescue Chair and/or Rescue Board. Arrangements can be made through the ECSCA Treasurer for payments to be made directly to a veterinary facility. The procedure for reimbursement of expenses laid out by a foster home is outlined on the foster contract.

Attempts to minimize expenses through low cost spay neuter or other clinics, or with a vet that offers reduced fees, are always appreciated but, getting competent care is paramount.

Many foster parents choose to donate food, heartworm pills, etc. ECSCA-RP does not reimburse for travel although it will pay to have a dog shipped to a foster home that can accommodate a dog with special needs. ECSCA-RP will reimburse for long term fosters (over 30 days) if requested, but this has not been done in recent memory. (The rate would be $5/day.)

The foster home should endeavor to learn as much as possible about the dog in order to ensure a good match. For example, consider

  • How is the dog with the following: children under 10, older children, men/women, cats,  dogs, other pets?
  • How does the dog behave when left alone? How well does it crate if at all?
  • How is the dog on a leash, in a car?
  • Does the dog obey any commands?
  • How is the dog in a yard? (jumper? digger?)
  • Is the dog prone to running out the door?
  • Is the dog a nuisance barker? (under what circumstances?)
  • Is the dog housebroken or not?
  • Is the dog aggressive or possessive in any way? This should be spelled out in detail with suggestions for how to deal with the problem.
  • Is the dog destructive, a food stealer, a garbage hound?
  • Other habits re: play, feeding etc.

People who foster should be given right of first refusal to adopt their foster dog but lengthy periods in foster care “trying to decide whether to keep the dog” should be discouraged. It is a judgment call. If the dog is relatively easy to place and other good homes are waiting, the person should be pressed for a decision.

There is no optimum time to foster a dog but a minimal period of 2-3 weeks is optimal especially in a dog of unknown background. Many behaviors do not surface until a dog has recovered from the “shell shock” of being moved. This also gives more time to expose the dog to a variety of situations, e.g. little children, cats, “big men,” etc. and to search for an owner if appropriate (see Lost and Found.) The goal of Rescue is not to see how quickly it can turn dogs around but how successfully they can be placed in permanent homes.

If the dog is transferred to a new foster home, use the FOSTER TRANSFER FORM available here. The new foster home must be given copies of all documents relating to the dog’s health, medications etc. from the first foster person. If no transfer form is completed, the new foster person should fill out a new foster form.

NB: If an owner who released a dog later changes their mind while the dog is in foster care, the ECSCA-RP will decide what to do based on what is best for the dog. There would have to be a compelling reason to turn the dog back over.

If an owner comes forward to claim a dog during the foster period, ECSCA-RP should investigate what attempts were being made to find the dog and the reason for any delays. Make sure the owner didn’t abandon the dog and then have a change of heart. Before relinquishing the dog to such a party, verification of ownership must be forthcoming such as (AKC) papers, vet records, license or rabies certificate, pictures or other relevant knowledge of the dog. If the dog is returned to this person, you should ask for a picture ID, like a driver’s license. Be sure to note the person’s vehicle registration number. Be wary if they balk at being asked for identification, and don’t be overly trusting just because they are accompanied by a child. (Some people will go to any means to get a dog for unsavory purposes.)

No matter when the dog is claimed, if the dog appears to have been truly neglected (as opposed to sick because it was lost so long), ECSCA-RP may decide not to return the dog and seek legal recourse, or ask that the dog be signed over to ECSCA-RP. Veterinary evaluation and/or humane officials may be needed to substantiate alleged neglect.

If the dog is to be returned, consider a home check or other means of making sure the dog will be returning to a safe environment. (Local animal control might know if the dog has been lost multiple times or if the owner has had problems with other pets.) We don’t have to like the owner, or agree with the way they care for their dog, but we do want to protect the dog from possible abuse or neglect. In some cases, follow up might be warranted by ECSCA-RP and/or local animal control officers.



Profiles and picture of available rescue dogs will be posted on the ECSCA Rescue Facebook page after review by the Rescue Chair or the Publications Secretary. (Private dogs can be listed at the owner/breeder’s request and will be clearly designated as private owner give-ups or breeder placements.) Rescues from other organizations can be cross posted as a courtesy. ECSCA-RP dogs will also be posted on other appropriate websites such as (We are a member of this group and our number is VA198). Our rescue contact information is on numerous other places on the internet including the AKC website and is in various publications. There are many specialized internet (yahoo type) groups to list senior dogs and dogs with special needs also.

All people interested in a rescue dog must complete the adoption application form  here and submit this to the Adoption Coordinator for further evaluation. In depth interviews can be done once a potential match is identified. If there is no appropriate dog for this person, they will then be placed on our waiting list and be given priority when new dogs are available for adoption.

A list of such dogs will be compiled by the Foster Care Coordinator and e-mailed to these people as well as to the most active rescue volunteers and the Rescue Board. Applicants with only phone numbers should be asked to check in monthly with the Adoption Coordinator.

If there is no match or there is some urgency, the dogs get posted to the public venues as above.  Dogs should be portrayed in a way that will spark interest yet be honest. The contact listed for an available dog can be the foster parent (or private owner) or the Adoption Coordinator. The decision about who adopts a dog should be made by the Adoption Coordinator. It is best not to prematurely release too much information about dog to a prospective applicant before they’ve had their screening interview. It is quite awkward to tell someone that a great dog is available and subsequently turn them down. (We do not have to give a reason for turning the person down, especially if they might go to another rescue and know what not to say or are likely to become confrontational.)

Wait until the dog’s health status and temperament is pretty clear so that applicants don’t get their hopes up. In the case of a potential long distance placement, waiting a bit may allow someone more geographically desirable to surface.

It is imperative to fit the dog to the household and not just place any dog in a “good” or available home. If the dog has no history of being around children under 10, ECSCA-RP should take great caution in placing such dogs with children. People experienced with our breed are very desirable but watch for those trying to find a dog” just like their last one.” Inquire how they dealt with illnesses, losses or problems with past dogs. Were there any dogs they ever returned? Why? What might make them return a dog now? (i.e. behaviors of the dog or changes in their lives.)

If the people are military, try to ascertain the likelihood of deployment or relocation and the ability to move with their dog. Any upcoming change in a person’s life should be explored, e.g. a baby coming, moving, renovating, marriage or a divorce. We discourage adoption during a time of such change and should recommend an appropriate waiting period.

A fenced yard is not required but makes sense in a home with small children or with people that won’t be able to walk their dog in inclement weather. In no case should a dog ever be tethered outside. Invisible fencing is not preferred but again, some dogs are more obedient, likely to learn quickly or have previous experience with this. With a responsible owner, this can be fine. Explore if the dog will be left out unattended in such fencing. Review other safety concerns such as whether swimming pools have locking, hard covers or are enclosed by separate fencing.

When vet references are available, confirm the information given about their last dog/pet (for example, did the dog die of cancer or because the owners didn’t want to pay for a potentially useful treatment?) Ask the vet’s opinion on the people as a prospective home for this breed. Do not accept relatives of the applicants as references.

Home visits are ideal and should be done whenever possible. Home visits help to confirm that fences are really up and secure, that the yard is safe, of a good size and clean of debris, that the home isn’t “too” clean and especially that the people have represented themselves accurately. Look at the condition of other pets and check for potential dangers in the house (e.g. chemicals or tools stored within the dog’s reach, birds or small pets are in insecure housing.) See where the dog will be kept. Don’t hesitate to chat with neighbors if possible.  Many things can become clear during a home visit that would be missed on an interview alone.

If need for placement is urgent or practical (e.g. a ride from Florida to  Canada is available) a  home check COULD  be done when the dog is delivered or after the placement but this should be an exception. Don’t be pressured into prematurely placing a dog because of the adopter’s convenience.

In these instances or in other cases where references are in question, check in with local animal control officers. There is also a database of known abusers and millers/dealers at

It is always preferable for prospective adopters and dog to meet before final decision about adoption is made. Ideally, everyone in the household including other dogs, full time nannies, etc. should be present at such a meeting and all humans at least should show equal enthusiasm about the adoption. (If not everyone can come, find out why.) The interaction of everyone with the dog can also be assessed. No dog should be adopted out as a “present” or surprise.” Many times, an adult child will make inquiries on behalf of their parent(s). This is fine but try to talk to and meet the parents if possible. Take special circumstance into account and don’t be afraid to ask about special challenges, e.g. a black dog might not be best for a person with low vision; elderly or frail people need a dog that doesn’t pull. Make sure the dog won’t be scared by a cane, walker or wheelchair. If there are no children in the house, ask if children visit or if children expected in the future (new babies can be a reason to give up a dog.)

Explain the terms of our adoption contracts before setting up a meeting to see if there are any concerns. If the adoption fee or neutering is a problem, that’s a “red flag.” Make it clear that there are no “trial periods” beyond, perhaps a weekend. A person must commit to adopt or not adopt otherwise issues of liability and ownership may arise and there may be subsequent problems obtaining adoption fees and completed adoption contracts. Dogs can ALWAYS come back and adoption fees will be refunded if the dog is returned in 30 days or less (see Adoption Failures.) Rescue does not want to see dogs moved around endlessly as different homes are tried.

Long distance placements are acceptable but the new owner must pay the shipping costs and for health certificate and crate in addition to the regular adoption fee. Overseas placements truly are unnecessary. The case would have to be an extraordinary one (perhaps someone in our club returning to HI, etc). Ground transportation can often be arranged through networking but only people known to us or with impeccable credentials should be used.


The foster person (under the supervision of the Foster and Adoption Coordinators) must have the adoption contract completely filled out and ready for the adoption day. Complete medical records must also be available. All material should be reviewed with the adopter (using the checklist provided.) Clearly discuss and record  medical care needed in the future and any behavioral issues, even if that was discussed during the interviews. In addition, the adoption contract lays out the terms of the agreement and the perks, such as the currently offered one month of free (limited) health insurance. The adopter then signs the contract and the checklist to acknowledge receipt of all information.

Make two copies of this form: one for owner and one for the foster person to return to the Recording Secretary (The foster person might want to keep a copy for themselves.)

If this is a long distance placement or if the dog is being picked up by someone other than the adopter, all paper work must be completed and exchanged with the adopter in advance and an adoption fee received by the foster home or the ECSCA Treasurer. Once a dog is placed it is very difficult to get people to sign things and send in checks. Shipping by air should be nonstop unless the dog is accompanied. If data can’t be sent in advance, it is the responsibility of the Adoption Coordinator to make sure it arrives and is completed within a week of adoption.

NOTE: AKC papers, if any are available, will not be transferred to the adopter. They should have “CANCELLED” written across them in red ink and kept in the dog’s folder. If the person wishes to do obedience, agility, etc. they may get an ILP number. Certainly date of birth or even sire and dam can be revealed to the adopter. Revealing the breeder is up to the judgment of the Rescue Board.

The adoption fees are:

  • Up to 18 months: $400
  • 18 months to 8 years: $350
  • 8 years and up: $200
  • over 12 years old and/or special needs dogs (deaf, blind, serious medical problem) a donation of $150 is suggested

There should be a discussion with the new adopter about things that can happen when a dog is relocated. For example, the dog may not get along with their other dog (or vice versa.) There might be house soiling or regression of behavior. It can take 3-6 months for a dog to adjust to a new home. Anticipation can help to smooth the transition.

A list of helpful books or publications would be a bonus. Certain perks may be available to the adopter such as a copy of the English Cocker Handbook, fire rescue decals, rescue pins or other suitable items. Information about obedience classes, groomers, trainers in their area would certainly be welcome.

By the time an adoption is final, the Rescue Recording Secretary should have a file for each dog that includes, owner give up data, release forms, medical information, application forms, notes about home visits (e.g. done by whom and when), and the adoption contract.  The latter is the most important document. It is also vital that microchip information is logged in such a way as to make number easily traceable.



The Rescue Corresponding Secretary should check in with the adopter at frequent intervals. A suggested format would be in 1 week, 1 month, 3 months and 6 months after placement and again at one year. Follow-up home visits can be done, and per our contract, without announcement. The idea isn’t to entrap a person but to check on the dog’s well being. (The Rescue Corresponding Secretary may delegate this task to a foster person but the Rescue Corresponding Secretary must keep a record of the follow-ups.) If a neighbor was used as a reference, contact can be made with them as well.

If an owner describes dangerous behavior, ECSCA-RP should strongly suggest that the dog be returned. Comments and recommendations should be documented. However, the final decision about keeping the dog is up to the owner

Success stories and such may be kept in a scrapbook and/or on the webpage.


ECSCA-RP may need to reclaim a dog for a variety of reasons. Most likely the new owner will contact ECSCA-RP because the dog is not working out. Sometimes these calls come within the first 24 hours. These people may just need some reassurance and guidance. However, no one should be talked into keeping a dog. If a dog is returned it should ideally go back to the original foster home.

Rarely are dogs reclaimed because they are not being taken care of, but, per our contract, ECSCA-RP has the right to remove a dog from any home where neglect or abuse is evident. If the owner fails to cooperate, local humane officers or law enforcement may need to be called for assistance. If such help is not available or there are no rescue volunteers that feel comfortable doing this, the ECSCA may have to begin legal proceedings, again, per our contract.

Such an owner should never be allowed to adopt another dog from our program. Their names along with other adults in the household will be maintained on the DNA list (see DNA List.)

If an animal is returned, within one month of adoption because it did not work out, the adoption fee may be refunded in full (even though this is not on our contract.) An appropriate example would be if the dog presented an unknown medical or behavior problem, especially aggression. Simply changing one’s mind about the adoption or moving etc. should not be grounds for a refund.

ECSCA-RP should take the dog back to re-evaluate it as some behaviors may only occur under specific circumstances. Once reclaimed, if a dog is felt to be unsuited for further adoption, the Rescue Board may be consulted as to whether to put the dog down.

If a dog is moved or reclaimed, make sure the microchip information is kept up to date.


In the event that a stray dog’s previous owner comes forward after the dog has been placed, ECSCA-RP has no obligation to return the dog if a good faith effort was made to find them and if the dog was in a shelter or foster care for the mandated minimum time dictated by the state, especially the former. Information about the adopter shall not be released other than something general such as, “a family with 4 kids and a big back yard.” Adopters must be able to adopt a dog in good faith that it is free and clear of encumbrances.

Verification of ownership needs to be obtained as outlined in the foster care section. Again, assess what the owner was doing to find the dog while it was in custody and the cause for any delays. If the case is compelling enough, the Rescue Board may wish to appeal to the adopter, but the final decision lies with the new owner.

If a co-owner comes or someone else comes forward claiming legal rights to the dog, they will have to deal directly with the person that signed the dog over to ECSCA-RP.



When a stray dog comes into ECSCA-RP, an all out attempt should be made to find the owner. This should take at least two weeks but the more time that passes, the less likely the owner will be found. Don’t make the assumption that the dog is in bad condition because of the owner’s neglect. Dogs can quickly become infested with parasites and get matted and even lose significant amounts of weight.

Our website has an extensive list of resources on this issue including websites on which lost and found dogs can be posted (including our own.) Some websites vary in the length of time data is kept. Some must be searched state by state, some by region and the best nationally. Records of such searches should be documented and put in the dog’s file.

When searching, keep in mind that, while most dogs are found within blocks of their home, dogs can travel 20-50 miles or be lost while traveling or with a caretaker. They may have been picked up and taken way out of their area or even adopted and lost again. Sometimes no one had ever checked for a microchip. Consultation with the Rescue Chair and/or Intake Coordinator should be made to decide where to search, advertise and post information. Contact possible likely breeders, especially if the dog is an unusual color. Post on ECS e-mail lists. Contact area shelters, vets (especially emergency rooms) and groomers and check local papers. Do a google search for lost dogs in the city or area in which the dog was found. There are online classifieds from numerous newspapers, public bulletin boards like Craigslist, etc.

Each state has a minimum time during which shelters/animal control officers are required to hold a stray dog. ECSCA-RP must follow such rules as well but we have the ability to search longer and more thoroughly. All attempts made to find the owner, including sites and papers, etc. where the dog was posted, should be well documented. If a vet hospital or shelter is contacted, get the name of the person you speak with. If an owner is found, it is hoped that the owner will reimburse the club for at least, any acute, necessary care the dog was given.


Every year, a rescue volunteer who has contributed to a rescue effort in an extraordinary way shall be named “Angel of the Year” and presented with a suitable trophy or plaque at the following year’s annual awards banquet at the National. (The name is generally not disclosed to the recipient in advance.) This does not have to be a member of ECSCA. Certificates will be given to no more than 5 other persons who deserve “honorable mention.” Nominations for such awards can come from anywhere. The Rescue chair will present these to the Rescue Board who will then vote on the nominees. Ties will be broken by the Rescue Chair.


The Fundraising Chair will organize such events as raffles, auctions and sales of items after approval by the Rescue Chair and the ECSCA Board. Such efforts can be ongoing and/or as needed but the former is desirable. The Treasurer should alert the Rescue Chair when funds are getting low (or hopefully before!)


Donations may be solicited from those who adopt directly from a private owner. Sometimes when a breeder rehomes a dog through ECSCA-RP, they might ask the adopter to send a donation to us in lieu of a collecting a sale price. Owners of dogs given up to ECSCA-RP should be asked for a donation also. Unfortunately, at this time, donations to ECSCA-RP are not tax deductible. (obviously donations will come from other sources e.g. dues, in memory of dogs or people that have passed, etc.)


Presentation of rescue dogs that have been successfully adopted can be done at regional or national specialties. These should generally (but not necessarily) be restricted to purebreds that have been rescued and not merely rehomed and it should not include breeder placements. Although many of these stories are compelling so the show chairperson may decide. The host club might want to focus on dogs rescued by their club members. (The Rescue Recording Secretary would have the names or folks to invite and the show chair or Rescue Corresponding Secretary can extend the invitations.) If the event is listed on the premium list, dogs have to be entered in the show as in a non-regular class. Dogs with ILP numbers that are entered in performance events at shows could be showcased. Otherwise this can be held as an unofficial event during a lunch break, etc.


The Adoption Coordinator will also maintain a “DNA” list (do not adopt list) of people that should not be allowed to adopt dogs based on reliable data or past experiences with them.


While we applaud and are grateful to anyone that helps an ECS in need, if that dog does not go through formal rescue channels, (i.e. follow or policies and procedures) we ask that it not be referred to as a “Rescue” dog in order to avoid confusion between the program’s efforts and outside endeavors. We do encourage participation in the Rescue program in order to qualify for financial assistance.


It is hoped that breeders (especially ECSCA members) feel responsible for all dogs they breed for the dog’s lifetime. Therefore, when a rescue volunteer is initially contacted about a dog, identifying and making contact with the breeder is the first order of business. If the dog is privately owned, the owner will be instructed to contact the breeder themselves, especially if said breeder is a member of ECSCA and/or is known to be of sound reputation. The volunteer should give the owner an appropriate amount of time to do this and should check back or might offer to speak to the breeder on the owner’s behalf. Also if said owner claims they HAVE contacted the breeder, please confirm this before proceeding.

Ideally, once contacted, the breeder would then make arrangements to take back or directly handle the re-homing of the dog. Indeed, such a stance is part of the Code of Ethics of many breed clubs. However, lives do change, illness and emergencies arise and issues of distance, etc. may make this impractical. In such cases, ECSCA-RP will be available to take the dog into foster care. Still, to whatever degree possible, breeders are expected to assist with the re-homing effort and to minimize the burden on ECSCA-RP. This can be done by networking for and screening of potential new homes, arranging for transportation, etc. In addition, the breeder should bear, some, if not all of the cost of care the dog needs during this foster period, including the cost of getting the dog back to them if they so desire.

ECSCA-RP can always assist the breeder by referring potential adopters to the owner and/or breeder, thus eliminating the need for reclaiming or fostering. This is a good consideration especially if there are no dogs currently in foster care for which a potential adopter is suited or if urgency and geography play a practical role.

In the unfortunate event that an ECSCA member refuses to take any responsibility for a dog of their breeding, ECSCA-RP may wish to notify the ECSCA Board of Directors. ECSCA-RP also will keep a record of this refusal. ECSCA-RP can use this as an a priori reason not to contact that breeder in the future.

If the owner refuses to or doesn’t wish to have the breeder contacted, a decision has to be made by the Rescue Chair and/or Rescue Board, based on what is in the dog’s best interest. ECSCA-RP may choose to notify the breeder anyway (see Breeder Notification) and elicit their assistance. Hopefully, in such a case, breeders will put personal differences with the owner aside and not jeopardize ECSCA-RP’s relationship with the owner, at least not until the dog is safe. Ask the breeder not to contact the owner. Assure the breeder that the situation can and will be handled as discretely as possible*. Successful collaboration of ECSCA-RP and breeder serves everyone’s best interests and should enhance the reputation of both, while ultimately doing what is best for the dog. However, while the dog remains with its owner, the owner’s desires should be respected as much as possible.

(*)  ECSCA-RP discourages public discussions about dogs where the identification of the breeder can be easily surmised or disclosed and serves no  purpose beyond gossip or even slander. We ask that volunteers refrain from posting their opinions on e-mail “lists” or other such venues. That said, the Rescue Chair’s job is not to censor free speech, so any breach of the above protocol should be regarded as the poster’s own personal opinion and not necessarily that of ECSCA-RP.

Many reasons are given by owners for not wanting breeders to be contacted. Some fear the dog will be put to sleep while others may object to the (perceived) way the dog will be kept and cared for. They may not want to see their dog “caged all day” or worry that it won’t be placed carefully by the breeder. Some owners simply may have had disputes with the breeder or are too embarrassed to talk to them. It is important for ECSCA-RP to listen to such comments and weigh their merits or lack thereof.

If a decision is made not to contact the breeder, rescue volunteers may choose to facilitate the re-homing by putting a pre-approved adoption applicant in touch with the owners privately.

Another option is for ECSCA-RP to accept the dog into foster care and then weigh whether or not to contact the breeder and when. Once a dog is signed over to ECSCA-RP, it is the property of the club, but subject to terms predetermined by the role the breeder chooses to play as indicated on the breeder notification form or other written statement.

Not contacting the breeder early on in the rescue or re-homing process should be the exception to the rule. Such decisions might be based on past documented behavior of the breeder or concerns voiced to (or by) the Rescue Board by at least three people regarding the manner in which the person in question cares for their dogs or in some other way does not represent ECSCA in the best light. The decision not to return a dog to a breeder must be based on a substantial concern for the dog’s well being. The dog always comes first.  ECSCA-RP does not exist to enforce contracts between people nor does it wish to be involved in disputes over a dogs. Neither does it exist to punish or “threaten” breeders. However, it certainly is within the purview of ECSCA-RP to educate the “marginal” breeder when a third or fourth dog of their breeding has come to our attention or yet another owner has expressed displeasure or discomfiture in dealing with them. Indeed this well might be one manner in which ECSCA-RP can effect a reduction in future rescue dogs.

 Breeder notification

Rescue will make a forthright and reasonable attempt to notify a breeder about one of their dogs at risk. This can be done by personal contact, phone, or e-mail but the Breeder Notification form should be used to document this contact, especially when it is verbal. Alternatively, the form can be sent by certified mail but in no case should breeder notification delay the appropriate and timely handling of a dog.

The Breeder Notification form can be found here. The breeder must sign and return the form to the Rescue Corresponding Secretary. When used as the only means of communication, if there is a lack of timely response (which may depend on the urgency) and no knowledge of a good reason for this delay, ECSCA-RP may assume that the breeder is not interested.  In that case, ECSCA-RP will act in the best interest of the dog. It may be appropriate at that time to notify others that might feel a sense of connection and responsibility to the dog e.g., to a previous owner, the owner of the sire, or any of the owners of the four grandparents (preferably in that order). This may be of particular importance in the case of a very important intact dog (see below).

 Questions of euthanasia

The breeder may opine that the dog in question should be put down. If this is not acceptable to the owner or deemed unwise or unnecessary by the Rescue Board, ECSCA-RP has the choice of taking the dog into foster care and evaluating it for possible placement. In such a case the breeder should be notified. However, the breeder shall not have to assume any costs of care in that case.

 Intact Dogs

ECSCA-RP’s focus is in finding homes for unwanted or homeless dogs, not with turning dogs back into breeding stock. Unless a breeder takes the initiative to personally rehome a dog, it will be neutered before placement. Even if a private owner accepts our help in a direct owner to owner rehoming, the dog should first be neutered. Common exceptions to this rule might be age or health of the dog, the speed in which the dog needs to be placed or the refusal or inability of the owner to neuter before placement. Therefore ECSCA-RP must do its best to ensure that these dogs are placed in the most responsible homes possible (see Adoption.)

Another, albeit unlikely, reason for rehoming an intact dog would be based on a determination by the combined ECSCA and Rescue Boards, that neutering would be a significant loss to the breed’s gene pool. (To date, no such thing has occurred in ECSCA-RP.) It must then be decided who would be a willing and suitable steward of such a dog. (That person would be asked to reimburse the ECSCA for any expenses incurred on the dog’s behalf while in foster care although perhaps transportation costs should be shared.) A dog PURCHASED on the initiative of a private individual, is not a rescue dog, even though such action may have been taken in order to remove the dog from a (perceived) unhealthy or unsavory situation. ECSCA-RP shall not encourage such purchases when they are contacted about intact dogs in need, lest it be the only way of getting a dog to safety. Such a dog could and perhaps should then be released to ECSCA-RP, remaining as a foster dog with the purchaser or moved elsewhere.


In no case will AKC papers be transferred to an adoptive home. Information from the papers, e.g. date of birth, and/or pedigree is fine. AKC policy dictates that papers be returned to the AKC with “placed in rescue” marked in red over them. (This way AKC can take the registration number out of circulation). However, it generally has been the practice of ECSCA-RP to just keep a copy of the papers in the dog’s rescue folder. ILP numbers can be obtained for those wishing to participate in AKC performance events. Even papers from dubious registries should not be transferred to new owners.


Quick Guide – a guide to rescue forms and a checklist of immediate needs for a dog in a foster home.

These forms available here.


  • Person want to apply for a dog: ADOPTION APPLICATION
  • Person wants to volunteer as a foster home: FOSTER HOME APPLICATION
  • Potential owner wanting to gve up a dog: OWNER GIVE-UP INFORMATION. Use to gather information when a private individual wants to turn dog into rescue or needs help finding a home. Also useful for gatering basic date for shelter/other rescue organizations dogs.
  • To alert breeders that a dog of theirs needs a new home or has been turned over to foster care: BREEDER NOTIFICATION FORM
  • When a dog is turned into a foster home or obtained from a shelter: ADOPTION RELEASE FORM
  • When a private citizen finds a dog and turn it over ECSCA-RP: STRAY DOG RELEASE FORM (Use instead of release form.)
  • Filled out by foster person the day the dog is taken in or as soon as humanly possible: FOSTER HOME CONTRACT.  Fill this out based on the information available about he dog on the day of intake. Note: For veteran foster people, the release form can be used instead of the foster home contract. However we do update the forms sometimes so it doesn’t hurt to read them over.
  • If foster person “A” transfers a dog to foster person “B”, foster person “A” fills out the TRANSFER OF FOSTER CARE AGREEMENT.  Foster person”B” signs it and foster person “A” turns over to foster person”B” the foster contract “A” originally signed. Any information obtained by foster person”A” since intake of the dog will be on the transfer agreement. Foster person “B” must sign a new foster form. In either case, foster persons “A” must give foster person “B” all documents in their possession.
  • Someone ready and cleared after an interview and home checked to adopt a dog: ADOPTION CONTRACT. The contract is carefully filled out by foster person and then signed by adopter.


All foster dogs get:

  • Vet exam and treatment and/or evaluation of acute and/or active medical problems. Senior panel and urine on dogs 7 or older
  • Fecal or Pancur X 3-5 days 2-3 weeks apart; also Droncit.
  • Heartworm antigen test (repeat in 6 months if unknown history of heartworm prevention.)
  • Start on Heartworm preventative, especially where endemic and give year round.
  • Rabies shot, if no record available.
  • DHP Combo is not done within 3 years and if dog is younger than 10 years old
  • Brucellosis, only if required by facility boarding the dog
  • Lyme test where appropriate
  • Microchip inserted and registered to ECSCA-RP immediately with contact of Rescue Chair or a local contact’s information. Report number to Rescue Chair as soon as possible.
  • Spay-neuter if medically stable.
  • Dogs 7 and older should have pre-op lab work before surgery. Some vets will require pre-op lab work on younger dogs too.
  • Dental if having other surgery or if teeth are acutely infected or causing pain or trouble eating.
  • Try to avoid giving a dog everything at once
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