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THIS LETTER IS IN REsponse to “Something Rottie in D.C.” (City Desk, 6/23). I would like to correct several misconceptions about the operation of Rottweiler Rescue and other rescue organizations.

It is a general policy of many animal shelters in this area to send purebred dogs to the appropriate rescue (Mastiff, Akita, Cocker spaniel, Pekingese, Labrador) whenever possible. If a breed-specific rescue organization exists, it is the best qualified to rehabilitate and place members of that breed. Overbreeding is a problem for all types of pets. Thirty-five percent of the animals destroyed in shelters are purebreds. If the rescue and AKC organizations take care of their own, it frees hard-pressed animal shelters to focus on the mixed breeds.

Rescue organizations do not “sell” dogs to citizens who want to own Rotties or other breeds. The preferred term is “adoption,” with all the formalities implied by that term. Charles Brown, who “claims that Rottie Rescue of suburban Maryland refused to let him buy a dog because he lives in D.C.,” should be prepared to provide a copy of his mortgage agreement, employment records, and veterinarian reference to any rescue group from which he seeks a pet. He will have to undergo a house check to ensure that he will provide a safe environment for his dog, and he will have to sign an adoption agreement stipulating how the dog will be treated. He will also have to pay an adoption fee of approximately $200 to cover any medical treatment including spaying or neutering. No rescue organization that I know of has a blanket ban on adoptions into D.C. Perhaps Brown’s attitude or concept of appropriate pet ownership led to his being denied a dog.

Rescuing animals is not a business. No one makes any money in rescue, and almost all the rescue groups operate as nonprofit organizations. Most of the members of the various rescue groups pay for the care of these animals out of their own pockets, as adoption fees cover only about half of the expenses incurred.

D.C. taxpayers are not ultimately footing the bill for neutering unwanted animals. No animals are altered unless there is a reasonable possibility of an adoptive home. The rescue organizations reimburse the Washington Humane Society (which operates the D.C. shelter) for the medical expenses incurred while the animals are housed at the shelter. D.C. taxpayers, unfortunately, do bear some of the expenses for euthanizing unwanted animals.

The overworked D.C. taxpayer is also responsible for the care of unadoptable animals seized as part of drug-related or other illegal activity. Recently, a large number of abused pit bull terriers were brought into the New York Avenue shelter, where they are to be held pending the outcome of charges against the dogs’ owners. These dogs are by and large unadoptable (aggressive, malnourished, and abused beyond belief). When the cases are decided, the dogs will either be returned to their owners (unlikely) or euthanized (more likely). Unfortunately, until then, these “humane hold” animals are taking up space in the D.C. shelter and otherwise adoptable pets are destroyed for lack of space.

Rescue organizations would be happy to place more animals in D.C., if appropriate homes could be found. Until then, I suspect that Mayor Barry and the D.C. Council have more important things to worry about than one more Rottweiler coming into the District.

Prince George’s SPCA/HS, Silver Spring, Md.