The Akita Rescue Society of Florida was founded in February of 1985. We were incorporated as a 501c3 organization in 1990. Our mission is to reduce the number of unwanted, abandoned or abused Akitas throughout Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Louisiana and the Carolinas, and when necessary, provide them refuge until they can be adopted into responsible, loving homes.
Established programs by which we strive to fulfill this mission are:
EDUCATION – We maintain four open phone lines where those interested in Akitas can talk to qualified volunteers about topics ranging from health issues to training. We conduct Dog Safety Presentations for school, church and community groups. We hold Canine Good Citizenship classes weekly in Jacksonville, which are free to our adopters or anyone who adopts an Akita from a shelter or legitimate rescue organization. (These classes are very affordable for owners of dogs of other breeds, too, at only $5.00 per class). Our website, www.arsf.org includes a wealth of information regarding Akitas, as well as links to other sites. We participate in many local educational and adoption events throughout our coverage areas.
INTERVENTION – Akitas have become a popular breed over the past 40 years since being recognized by the AKC, a fact reflected by the hundreds of calls and emails we receive requesting information and assistance .In most cases, our preference is that a dog remain in its original home, so we are prepared with resources to help owners with such issues as behavior, training, confinement, health and housing. If, despite our efforts, a dog must be re-homed, we are ready to support the owner’s efforts to responsibly place the spayed or neutered Akita with internet listing, home inspections and transportation. As a general rule, WE DO NOT ACCEPT OWNER TURN-OVERS. Therefore, it is important that we maintain partnerships with animal control facilities and humane societies so that we can either assist them with appropriate placements or physically take the dogs into our own program. Unfortunately, sometimes euthanasia of an unwanted Akita is the only practical and humane alternative. We are willing to subsidize the cost to the Akita owner of euthanasia through a private veterinarian, rather than have the dog undergo the distress of entering the shelter system when there is no chance of adoption.
SPAY/NEUTER – All Akitas placed by our organization, including puppies, are spayed or neutered prior to adoption. This also includes Akitas in shelters or private homes to which we may refer adopters. Five years ago, we launched the EACH ONE, REACH ONE spay/neuter outreach program. We enlist the help of Akita owners and breed fanciers to pledge up to $200 to spay or neuter an Akita whose owner is unable or unwilling to pay the cost of this procedure. In this way, we have been able to affect the number of unaltered Akitas being rehomed by their owners on Craig’s List or through newspaper ads. We enthusiastically support local, state and national efforts which encourage VOLUNTARY spay/neuter.
ADOPTION – The Akitas entering our adoption program receive careful screening in the areas of health, temperament and behavior. In addition to standard medical procedures and pet medicine, we have performed many preventative gastropexies, FHOs, ACL repairs, eye surgeries and even some unusual treatments, such as the external ring fixator procedure we had performed at the University of Florida School of Veterinary Medicine on a three legged puppy from the Tri-County Humane Society. We also collect DNA from Akitas with clinical symptoms of genetic disease for national and international research projects and enter it into the CHIC data base. We use standard applications to begin the adoption process and perform on-site home inspections. Most of our adopters find us via the internet, targeted advertisement, word-of-mouth or know of ARSF through having adopted from us in the past. The Akita is not a breed well suited for casual, impulse or on- site adoptions during events. Probably the most controversial aspect of our adoption process is that we do not charge adoption fees. The main reasons for this policy are:
1) It allows us more control when enforcing our contract. 2) We require the purchase of specific and often expensive items that are essential to success of an adoption.
3) The exchange of money, no matter what it is called – adoption fee, re-homing fee, reimbursement, etc.- can be a source of misunderstanding between the adopter and our organization, which could jeopardize the future safety of the dog.
All Akitas are micro-chipped to our organization and our contract requires the return of any dog which the owner can no longer keep. We are always available to assist adopters throughout the life of the dog with advice, free obedience classes, low cost boarding and even end-of-life euthanasia when that time comes.
In closing, we have learned much over the past 25 years about rescue and placement of shelter dogs. We have made mistakes and missteps, but continue to evolve and improve our organization, so that we can meet future challenges. We are excited to be a part of Maddie’s Fund and other programs which help reduce the burdens on our animal control systems as well as the need for euthanasia of Akitas and all other kinds of dogs.