How We Work
Adopting a Leo
Giving up a Leo
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Puppy Mill Dogs
Dogs with Aggression
As Leo lovers, we understand how difficult it would be to surrender a beloved Leonberger. But sometimes it is the very best decision a Leo owner can make. If you find yourself in a situation that calls for it, we can help you through the painful process of surrendering your Leo. And we will do everything in our power to make it as easy as possible. And after you have surrendered your Leonberger to our rescue, we will find the very best home for your beloved dog and will keep track of him/her to ensure that they are receiving the very best care.
The process: We find out the reason for the dog coming into rescue and
get the dogıs full history, including any health information.
If lack of training or easily dealt with behavior problems
are the cause, and if the owner is willing, we attempt to
help the owner keep the dog by offering training suggestions
If the dogıs behavior is too much for the owner or said
owner is not willing to work with the dog, then one of a
few things may happen. If the dog lives close enough to
a volunteer experienced enough to do a basic evaluation,
the dog is evaluated and matched with an appropriate foster
If not, the dog is transported to the Regional Rep,
or another experienced evaluator, for fostering.
Dogs with basic issues are evaluated by experienced volunteers,
some who are trainers. In many cases, the change of enviroment
coupled with consistent training is all it takes to correct
behavior problems. However, if the evaluator feels that
a professional review is warranted, LeoRescue pays for it.
If the dog needs training beyond what the foster parents
can provide themselves, LeoRescue pays for it. In short,
we do everything we can to correct any behavioral issues.
Once a dog has been in our care for at least two weeks, has no medical or behavioral issues, it can be adopted. We examine applications carefully, do background checks, home visits, and more. Once the perfect home is located, then the dog is placed in that home. Afterward, we follow-up frequently with the new home owners to ensure things are going well and are always available for counselling or guidance.
To surrender a Leonberger to our rescue, please download the Surrender Form. We understand how difficult the decision can be, so your Regional Representative can help you with the whole process.
Volunteers are sent to identify the dog as a Leo. The dog
is evaluated by volunteers in a kennel setting, taking into
account the shelter worker's experience and the fact that
the dog is in a highly stressful situation. If the volunteer
feels the dog is a Leo, the dog is removed from the shelter
and transported to the regional rep or a foster home with
the experience to deal with an unevaluated dog. From here
fostering proceeds as for owner surrender.
Puppy Mill Dogs
Mill dogs turned over to rescue typically have had little
to no human interaction, and have a wide range of health
issues. These dogs are almost always placed in a kennel
or vet/kennel situation where we can begin treating the
health issues and start to gradually introduce human contact.
The dogs are also evaluated by a professional with the knowledge
of the specific issues these dogs have. These evaluations
tend to be performed over more than one encounter, to allow
the dogs to adjust to the changes in their enviroment and
health as well as to become accustomed to human contact.
These evaluations are flexible and limited in their breadth;
we look for relationships between the dogs, who depends
on whom, and whether it is better to keep them together
or separate them.
So far, we have seen no aggression, only severe under-socialization
and shyness. A surprisingly high number of dogs have made
remarkable progress in the right foster homes and have been
shown to have a solid genetic background in terms of temperament.
Others have not been able to overcome the dreadful nature
of their life in the mills and their personality will always
reflect that experience. So far, none have been so devastated
as to not find a level of peace when in the right setting.
I say so far, because we have at least two that are not
out of the woods yet and may never reach the point where
the good things in life outweigh their fears and unrelenting
Fostering a Mill dog requires special and experienced foster homes. We are in desperately need
of such homes—if you have that experience or are interested
in learning how to deal with these dogs, PLEASE let us know.
As a rule, the foster period for a Mill dog is much longer
than other dogs.
Dogs With Aggression Issues
Here we step into a complex area. LeoRescue's policy in
dealing with aggression is highly flexible. To begin with,
we recognize that “aggression” is a term that doesn't come
close to representing the various behaviors collapsed into
it, let alone the many levels of these behaviors.
If an owner calls LeoRescue wanting to relinquish an aggressive
dog, we thoroughly investigate the situation. We ask that
the dog be given a thorough health check, as there are several
health-related triggers for aggression, such as thyroid
imbalance. We ask detailed questions about training, environment,
changes in life/lifestyle, the target of the aggression,
the predictability of the behavior, the level of aggression,
whether the behavior is escalating, whether or not the dog
has bitten, the type of bite, etc.. In other words, we make
every attempt to quantify the behavior and identify the
Decisions are made on multiple levels. Is the dog clearly
in the wrong home? Does the dog's history of bites allow
us to place it? Can the dog be trusted to not harm anyone
when placed in a home (keeping in mind that most homes think
they can handle much more than they actually can)? Liability
comes into play, but our interpretation of liability goes
beyond financial issues—and yes, LeoRescue has insurance.
We consider the family adopting the dog, the kids, the neighborıs
kids, the fact that dogs do get away from the most experienced
owners. We consider the dog's welfare should it do harm.
We consider the reasons the dog bites and what that says
about the quality of their life, what it says about the
demons they are fighting. We consider the potential damage
to the breed in general should the Leonberger become identified
as a “dangerous” or “aggressive” breed.
LeoRescue will not place dogs whose aggressive behavior
is unpredictable and manageable only by keeping it safely
contained away from everyone. As heartbreaking as it is,
LeoRescue cannot and will not base its decisions on the
fact that 90% of the time the dogıs aggression was not the
dogıs choice in the first place but the only way it knew
to control its world. The decision has to be based on whether
the dog is likely or not to cause harm again. The smallest
indication that the dog might indeed cause harm means the
dog cannot be placed.
If, after professional evaluation, it is determined that a dog is not safe to place into a home, the owner is informed that euthanasia is, sadly, the only option. If the owner cannot handle euthanizing their dog, we will do it for them. We recognize the difficulty in making such a painful decision, and we do not pass judgment.