Adopt A Boxer Rescue (AABR) has been a Broadway Barks affiliate from the beginning and participated in the 2020 and 2021 virtual Broadway Barks adoption events, Broadway Barks Across America! As a 501c3 organization, AABR works throughout the northeast, including Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington DC, and Rhode Island. It’s a lot of ground to cover considering their mission is to “rescue, rehabilitate, and re-home unwanted and abandoned boxer dogs.” As AABR President and Co-founder Dawn Karam puts it, “We never miss a boxer in need that we can help.” So how do they do it? Volunteers! If you’ve ever wondered how much impact volunteering can really have, just look at the difference volunteers at AABR make every day!
Humble Beginnings AABR was formed in November 2004 by three dedicated co-founders who had lots of experience and a network of volunteers, but no money. They started with thirty boxer dogs that needed help and worked from there to get shelters, animal hospitals, dog trainers, and foster homes involved. In just the first year they expanded their volunteer network, obtained 501c3 status, and rescued more than 250 dogs! Currently AABR has about 100 volunteers that perform all the functions required to keep the rescue operating. Volunteers review adoption applications, check veterinary and personal references, conduct home visits, complete data entry, return phone calls and emails, facilitate veterinary visits, provide training, foster homeless dogs, transport animals in need throughout the country (and sometimes globally), and assist at adoption and educational events. AABR simply could not function without all the work done by its team of volunteers. Adoption Process AABR’s ultimate goal is to find every rescued boxer dog a permanent loving home. To do it right, the process takes time. Not only are volunteers working around their day jobs and life schedules, but many dogs must receive veterinary care and/or training to make them healthy, stable, and ready to be adopted into new homes. In fact, every dog AABR adopts out will be current on vaccinations, dewormed, spayed or neutered, microchipped, and taking a heartworm preventative. This process ensures that the dog is healthy before adoption, but it’s also where AABR spends most of its money. Veterinary costs are the organization’s largest expense and are paid for by individual donations and adoption fees. When prospective adopters apply to adopt a dog from AABR, the first step is to fill out an adoption application. Completing the application provides access to AABR’s electronic dashboard, where adopters can track their application through the process. As part of the application-review process, adopters must provide their veterinarian’s contact information and three personal references, which will be followed up with to determine their suitability and commitment to adopting a boxer dog. AABR also conducts a home visit to ensure that the potential new home is suitable for a boxer dog. For example, homes without a physical fence may be denied or take longer to get approval because boxers are known jumpers and previously abused/neglected boxers don’t respond well to electronic fences. Homes with very small children or other pets will also require additional considerations based on the needs of the breed and each individual dog. If the process seems rigorous, it is. However, this has become the standard in animal rescue, developed over the years based on the experience of animal shelters and rescues. On a daily basis, these organizations see why animals enter shelters and rescues, and they work to prevent those reasons from being factors in the future. That’s why it is imperative that prospective adopters be patient and recognize that AABR and other reputable and caring rescue organizations have rigorous standards to ensure the safety of the animal and to make the process smoother for the adopter in the long run. Many factors impact the speed of the adoption process. Most rescued boxer dogs have health issues and psychological issues that have to be addressed before they can be adopted. Not all breeds are suitable for all people, and certain dogs may require more training than others. The experienced volunteers at AABR work hard to ensure that every match is ideal for the adopter and the dog. That is also why AABR requires adopters to be at least 21 years old and have the financial resources to care for a dog for the rest of its life. Once an adoption is approved, the adopter signs a contract promising to care for that dog for the rest of its life. Once signed, that contract also makes the adopter part of the AABR family, which means AABR will be there to support them when needs arise and share in the joy of bringing home a rescued boxer dog as a new member of the family. Pandemic Effect Like every rescue organization, AABR has felt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dawn Karam says, “Before the pandemic we felt great about our progress. Boxers fell out of the top ten of desired breeds, so fewer boxers were found in shelters. But since the pandemic began, puppy mill breeders are seeing a huge increase in sales, more and more boxers are being bred and sold, and their parents are kept in horrendous conditions. It is very upsetting.” The pandemic also changed the way veterinarians run their offices, which has affected rescue organizations. Since veterinarian offices changed their business practices to ensure safety, they haven’t been able to see as many patients and have decreased the number of low-cost spay/neuter surgeries they offer. Prices of spay/neuter surgeries have actually doubled in some areas. The ever-changing situation caused by the pandemic has forced AABR to innovate and seek different ways to help the beloved breed. AABR volunteers have increased transports from the Midwest states, where there are more boxers in need. AABR has also worked to transport unwanted and abandoned boxer dogs from Turkey, where the animal-welfare situation is even worse than in the United States. Not every change brought about by the pandemic is negative, though. The increased focus on cleanliness is something AABR plans to maintain even after the pandemic ends, and they also plan to build on the increased use of virtual technologies. Looking for a Way to Help? As a growing and evolving rescue organization, AABR is always looking for volunteers and donations. If you are interested in volunteering but don’t know how you can help, just click here for a volunteer form. After you’ve filled out the form, someone from AABR will contact you and discuss volunteering options. If you have space in your home and heart and are willing to foster a boxer dog while they look for a permanent home, click here for more information on what fostering entails; if you are still interested you can fill out this form to apply to become a foster! If you can’t volunteer right now but you still want to help, please consider making a donation to AABR. Donations are used to pay for the veterinary care and supplies needed to rescue, transport, and care for boxer dogs until they are adopted. The volunteers at AABR believe that a “boxer is just about the perfect friend.” So if you are ready to adopt and you agree that bringing a boxer dog home is a lifetime commitment to a living, breathing, thinking, and feeling being that cannot be tossed away when times get rough, then check out Adopt A Boxer Rescue today and start your application to adopt. Not only will adopting a boxer change a dog’s life, it will change yours, too!
by Charlene Sloan