Born from a rather hasty and unplanned beginning immediately after the 2011 South East Queensland (SEQ) Floods, Animal Rescue Queensland, loving known as ARQ, continues to rescue and rehome dogs.
As a result of the floods, ARQ envisaged a six-month plan taking in as many dogs as we could from Brisbane pounds and placing them in foster homes. ARQ reunited those we could with their displaced families and committed to keep safe, desex and rehome those who were lost during the disaster. During this initial time of ARQ, it was seen that there was a real problem with significant numbers of unwanted, lost and abandoned dogs in pounds right across Queensland. ARQ focussed heavily on saving as many pound dogs as we could from death row and giving them a new leash on life by rehoming them.
During the years ARQ grew significantly, regularly taking in dogs from as far as Cairns and as west as Roma as south as Sydney. It was not uncommon for us to have as many as 100 dogs in foster homes across SEQ at any one time.
Longing to do more, ARQ rented a property on acreage and proceeded to open a shelter in Narangba in 2016. This home was amazing. There were multiple kennels and an incredible processing space for all dogs coming through ARQ, not to mention the land for the dogs to play and exercise. We now had a centralised space to coordinate all the behaviour testing, processing for adoptions, vet work prior to going out to foster care, and also a back-up, short-term accommodation space for those desperate last-minute cases.
Despite all our great intentions, this plan was short lived when an accident happened, and a serious injury was sustained by ARQ’s founder. ARQ was no longer able to run such an incredible space. It took our founder about 18 months of rehabilitation after surgery and learning to walk again to be literally back on their feet. During this time, so many other rescue groups had started and grown to be able to assist and take over providing refuge to the death row dogs at the pounds. It was a beautiful thing to know that the dogs were still getting saved, with the same love and intentions that ARQ had always lived by. This allowed us a time of reflection and learning, and ARQ was evolved to assist in rescue in a different way to which we hadn't really focussed on previously. It was also a necessity, as after the accident ARQ could no longer safely assist larger breed dogs straight from pounds who needed behaviour assessment and often significant training.
Where do ARQ get their dogs from?
While ARQ continues to rescue dogs from the pounds’ death row and rehome dogs that have been surrendered, ARQ has evolved to assist in rescue by creating their Last Litter Program. ARQ’s founder had extensive experience whelping pregnant dogs from pounds and raising their babies, therefore, it was decided that ARQ could offer this on a more regular basis bringing ARQ back into the lead with this specialised experienced service.
ARQ promotes the last litter program across many avenues. It’s primarily word of mouth on social media that sees people contact us, and we reach out to them. We work with "backyard/hobby" breeders, not licenced breeders. Click here to understand the three different types of breeders as we refer to them.
Rescue has a fairly bad name among breeders. There has been an air of elitism about rescue work or adopting a rescue dog and as such people with pups have reported that they don't engage a rescue to help as they believe that they will get abused, and sometimes have been. It's been promoted in certain keyboard warrior circles that “breeders are the worst people in the world”. It's also a common concern from people that "rescue will steal my dog and not give it back". At ARQ, we don't judge, and we certainly do not steal dogs. Sometimes things happen, and ARQ is here to help with the accidental pregnancies and to educate backyard breeders to ensure the breeding cycle of these dogs is stopped. By returning a desexed dog to its family that it knows and loves, is actually the best outcome we can hope for.
ARQ's Last Litter Program
We know that family pets are happiest in their own homes, and sometimes people are worried about not getting their dog back. Therefore, ARQ offers the Last Litter Program in a couple of ways.
One way is ARQ educates, mentors, guides and supports people with the birthing and raising the pups in their own home, and then when they are 6-8 weeks of age, they are brought into ARQ’s care for desexing, vaccinations, socialisation and rehoming. While the mother dog stays with her family, ARQ organises the mother dog to be desexed at their local vet or at ARQ’s vet. This has meant we can assist people in this situation to more easily bring weaned pups into care without disturbing a young family.
Another way is ARQ will provide a full service of care for the mother dog before, during and after the birthing of the puppies. For more information on our Last Litter Program, click here.
'Give Away' and cheap puppies
ARQ’s adapted Last Litter Program is so critical for the community. You see, it’s not just about the mother dog, it's about the puppies too.
By law, to sell or GIVE AWAY a dog they must be at least microchipped (info here) by the owner, not the purchaser. This can incur a significant cost (average of $50+ per dog) to owners who often cannot afford it and will then just try and quickly give the pups away to anyone, with limited advertising or screening suitability of new owners. This untraceable pup could very easily then end in the hands of an undesirable situation such as dog fighting.
In addition, ethically the pup should have at least one vaccination before being sold or given away to ensure they're protected against diseases. The first vaccination is due at 6 to 8 weeks and this is a cost of about $80 per dog. This upfront cost, when multiplied over an entire litter and added with microchipping, is often unaffordable for most people.
What is ARQ's goal?
ARQ’s biggest passion is to stop the breeding cycle by DESEXING, SPAYING or NEUTER.
Backyard bred pups are never desexed before being sold, given away or rehomed. This means that they can very easily turn into the next generation of backyard bred dogs. In theory, a female dog can have up to three litters in a year with an average litter size of seven puppies. One female and her babies can theoretically create 67,000 puppies in six years.
Given the tens of thousands of dogs still being euthanised in pounds across Australia, these breeding numbers simply must stop. Lots of info can be read about this here.
Pet stores selling puppies
Our programs sound great right? Well, they are.
Except when a backyard breeder decides to sell their litter to a pet store offering big bucks to stock their shop. Now, we don't have any issues with pet stores either, but it is safe to say that a pet store is no place for a young puppy to be spending time. A pet store can be an incredibly scary space for a puppy. Being taken away from the mother dog and placed in a cage (usually elevated with a glass window) with noises, artificial lighting, often shredded paper to go to the toilet on in the same space they eat and play, and then people tapping on the glass. Usually these dogs are aged between 6-10 weeks old which is a widely known critical behavioural development stage for a puppy. At this age, they should be in a home, learning things at their pace while being properly and positively taught and socialised.
Pet store pups are never desexed. It's been reported they are sometimes overdue for second vaccinations, and they have received zero training in a home to start them on the right path in life. To buy a puppy at a pet store, you will be asked no questions about suitability, knowledge or even permission to own a pet in your home, just how would you like to pay? And the prices often start from $2,500. Add desexing on that (if you're a responsible pet owner) and you could be looking close to $3,000 for that puppy in the window.
ARQ takes in pups from people changing their minds about their pet store bought pups, not realising the amount of work required to raise them or being declined by the landlord to house the dog at their home after impulse buying that cute doggy.
Why are dogs so expensive to adopt?
Rescue does not and never should equal cheap dogs. Rescue dogs have often gone through so much more before they are ready for adoption. Not only does a rescue dog come desexed, vaccinated, chipped but often they are in a foster home learning valuable basic training and loving care while waiting to be adopted. In addition, your adoption fees don't just cover the costs you see for that dog. Sometimes there has been transport to the rescue or to the foster carer or to the vet, grooming, additional vet work if they were unwell or got an infection, bathing and shampoo, not to mention supplies like quality food toys treats and bedding, puppy pads etc. The caring costs for a rescue dog aren’t limited.
At ARQ, the adoption fee also goes back into programs such as the Last Litter Program and our desexing program. Don't forget there are wages to ensure your enquiry gets answered, and someone facilitates your adoption in a timely fashion. There's a lot more to your adoption fee than you might initially realise. ARQ are firm believers that dogs should not be cheap or even "affordable". Dogs are a new member of the family. They require many things above and beyond food and love, even above basic annual vaccinations. They require training, doggy day care, socialising, your time, quality food, appropriate leashes and collars, grooming, registration, toys and enrichments, suitable bedding, treats, regular baths with quality dog shampoo…the list goes on and on. ARQ has a duty of care, and it’s always with a priority for the pup in question. ARQ’s adoption process is to ensure a great fit, a good home and one who can provide the best life they can for the dog. We wish that love made the world go around, but realistically, it doesn't and we will never apologise for charging a premium to adopt of our very special babies. In turn, we thank each of our adopters for sharing our passion for all the work that goes into ARQ and entrusting us to help match them with their new family member.
What ARQ hopes to change
Through promoting ARQ's programs and adoptions in online spaces that would often see backyard breeders trying to sell their puppies, we are now presenting people with choice.
With ARQ offering a rescue puppy and dog adoptions to a portion of the community who would otherwise think that they need to head to a pet store to buy the breed of puppy that bests suits their home and lifestyle. This provides invaluable education to the wider community, bridging the elitist gap between rescue and breeder, reducing pups in pet stores and doing some major education, all while desexing as many dogs as we possibly can and cutting the cycle of further backyard breeding.