As one of the original founders of the Bullmastiff Rescue program,
what prompted the need to create this organization so many years
The American Bullmastiff Association asked Mary
Barbara Walsh and me to get it organized and that is how I
started. The ABA may have been inspired in
part by a directive from the AKC sent to all breed
BullmastiffInfo.org: Describe your first rescue case.
Rowland: As I recall, the
first call we got about a dog that needed
assistance was in Tennessee, in the first few years for whatever
reason we got quite a few dogs in the Atlanta area, one of
the volunteers in Michigan who still helps
our program adopted one of the first dogs we got, a
dog from Missouri. Jim Michaels now is on his third rescue.
BullmastiffInfo.org: Please explain what exactly the American
Bullmastiff Association Rescue Service, Inc. is.
Rowland: The Rescue
Service is intended to help unwanted
Bullmastiffs, most of them come from shelters, but some are owner
releases - with the advent and success of
the Internet a lot of people who wouldn't
have thought twice about taking a dog that they couldn't keep to the
shelter will see if there is an organized
rescue group that will take the dog and
find him a home so we get quite a few dogs that are owner releases.
Some of the volunteers are members of the
American Bullmastiff Association, some are
not. All have had experience with the breed.
BullmastiffInfo.org: As Bullmastiff ownership has exploded, so
has the number of Bullmastiffs coming into the Bullmastiff Rescue
program. What factors do you think are the main reasons for such an
increase of Bullmastiffs coming into Bullmastiff Rescue?
Rowland: I think the
increase is due almost entirely to the
Internet and the visibility and accessibility it has given to our
BullmastiffInfo.org: Is there anything that the public can do
to help rectify these factors to help reduce the number of
Bullmastiffs being abandoned?
Rowland: I am not sure if
abandoned is the correct word - I think
given up is better. I don't think the general public can do anything
except to understand that if/when they decide to get a dog it
should be a lifetime commitment, if they
want to get a puppy from a breeder, they should try to
choose a responsible breeder who will mentor them after they
get the puppy and if necessary take the
dog back if a problem develops which makes it
impossible for them to keep the dog. If they know someone who
has a dog he cannot keep, the advice to
this person is first contact the breeder of the
dog, if the breeder won't help, then rescue should be
At times, there are inquiries from families wanting to surrender
their Bullmastiff into the Bullmastiff Rescue program. However, when
they contact the Bullmastiff Rescue Service, they are expecting the
Rescue service to pay them for the dog. Does Bullmastiff Rescue buy
dogs from families wanting to surrender their Bullmastiff? Why or
Rowland: If someone wants
to release their dog to the ABA Rescue
Service, we will not buy them. We can promise that we will find the
dog a responsible, carefully screened home, that the dog will
be neutered or spayed if necessary,
vaccinated, checked for worms and heartworm and any
other health issue cared for before the dog is placed. We ask
for, but do not require, a donation when
the owner releases the dog. The American
Bullmastiff Association Rescue Service has never bought dogs at
auctions. If someone cannot keep their
Bullmastiff, and they have time before they have
to give up the dog, I usually suggest to them - if the
breeder can't or won't help - they should
try placing the dog themselves (stressing the dog
should be spayed or neutered first). If they want to get
money for the dog, that is the way they
can do it, they won't be paid by ABA Rescue.
BullmastiffInfo.org: What are some ways that the general
public can assist Bullmastiff Rescue?
Rowland: They can make
donations, they can buy products that
support ABA Rescue, they can help with transportation, IDing dogs at
shelters, and home visits if they cannot foster.
BullmastiffInfo.org: Foster homes are very hard to come by in
many areas of the nation. What does a foster home need to have or do
in order to qualify to care for these rescue cases?
Rowland: It is important
for a person fostering the dog to have a
crate that the foster dog can be kept in when necessary if possible
in a room that the person's dogs do not
have access to. They must have a pen or
well fenced in yard that the dog can use by himself. The most
important qualifications are love of the
breed, time and patience, willingness if
necessary to rotate dogs. You don't have to have a kennel or 20 room
house to foster.
BullmastiffInfo.org: When a Bullmastiff comes into the Rescue
program, the organization rarely knows anything about the dog in
regard to physical health and temperament until they actually live
with the dog for some time. This still
does not guarantee however, that everything can be found out about
the dog before placement into a permanent home. Therefore, there is
a liability risk when placing rescued Bullmastiffs in homes where
someone gets hurt. What can the
volunteer that placed the dog do to protect themselves
beforehand in the case of a lawsuit?
Rowland: Most dog owners
should have an umbrella policy to their
own insurance. This has nothing to do with a potential lawsuit from
something happening as a result of Bullmastiff rescue, it is
just common sense for any dog owner.
Anyone who fosters for the American Bullmastiff
Association has filled out our rescue volunteer form. There
has never been a liability issue with our
Rescue Service, but if that were to happen, the
volunteer would be covered by the ABA's insurance policy.