Frequently Asked Questions:  Choosing the right foreign rescue

Here at Balkan Underdogs, we are often asked by our followers what they should expect, and look out for when adopting from another foreign rescue. So we decided to create this FAQ to help you to make the right choices, feel confident, and identify any red flags. So here are the sorts of questions you should be asking, and the rescue should be willing to answer these questions honestly, openly and in full.

1. What rescue back up does the rescue offer?

This is important in case anything happens to you or your circumstances drastically change meaning you need some assistance, or can no longer care for your dog or cat. Dogs from rescues with no rescue back can be vulnerable to abuses as they are sold or passed on, and are easily lost in the system.  Ask the rescue to to explain their policy and what this means. 

2. What health tests or screening do they perform on the cat or dog prior to travel, and can they supply evidence, as well as a copy of the results. 

3. What temperament tests are performed, and what assurances can be given on the dog or cat you are looking to adopt? Remember that nothing is guaranteed, but you want to be sure the rescue are open and honest about any issues. 


4. Does the rescue dive head first on to the first dog that you enquire about, or do they ask about your home and work life, and other lifestyle questions in order to ensure you are matched with the right dog? Many people will enquire about a dog because of the way it looks, or as a result of heart breaking posts, but that doesn't mean the energy and temperament is necessarily a fit for you.  

5. Is the dog or cat travelling from inside or outside the EU? There are currently different government guidelines for both of these, which can be found on the Government website. Timescales for travelling can be different depending on whether the cat or dog is travelling from an EU or non-EU country, so it is important that you ask the rescue where in the process your potential pet is currently situated.

6. Where is the dog's current location? If the dog is in a shelter or pound, have the rescue talked to you about what to expect?

7. Have you been given any advice on how to settle in a foreign rescue, and what you need to be aware of? You should also expect to agree to a homecheck. Also do your own research. Foreign rescues have their own set of needs which differ from a UK rescue. Take a look at The DOG's Point of View who have put together a brilliant page about settling in a foreign rescue. Another great article by Nick Benger is another page we recommend you look at, and talks about acclimatising a foreign rescue.  We advise all our prospective adopters to take a look at both these articles.

8. What support does the rescue offer you prior, during and post adoption? Asking these questions and also looking at reviews will help add some assurances. 

9. Will the cat or dog be spayed or neutered, or have a contract in place that requires you to do so? If the pet is old enough, why aren't the charity undertaking this procedure prior to adoption? In our opinion, a responsible rescue will always spay or neuter an animal before bringing it into the UK.

10. Have the rescue advised you on preparation for arrival? In the early few weeks your new dog may experience some anxiety or behavioural issues as a result of the change in its circumstances, travel, etc. Are the charity being realistic with you and managing your expectations clearly?  

11. Is there a contract or rehoming agreement to sign? If so, read this carefully, please don't just sign it. If there is no contract or rehoming agreement, this would be a red flag

12. Ask for video and more video of the dogs or cats that interest you. You can really tell a lot from a video, and if something doesn't look or feel right, voice your worry to the rescue. A good rescue will be happy to put your mind at ease  and discuss your concerns. 


13. Do you have a UK based contact as well as contact with rescuers abroad?

14. Does the rescue dual microchip register the cat or dog to themselves and the new owner? This is a good indication that they are keen to be responsible. 

15. Is the organisation you are looking at a registered charity or not? There are some really fantastic rescues that are not actually UK registered charities, but those that are have additional obligations to fulfil their charity commissions which adds another level of assurance. 

Last but not least, don't be driven by those awful pictures that you see online and jump in without doing your research first. There are some great informative articles to read to make sure a foreign rescue is right for you and your family.

We also have a range of short videos to help you with various issues, take a look here.