My name is Nick, I work to rehabilitate shelter/rescue dogs. AMA!

Nick Thompson
Jun 27, 2017

Hello, and welcome! I work with #PittieStrong in upstate New York to rehabilitate shelter/rescue dogs back to health and help them in their journey to reach their forever homes.

We partner with rescues to offer professional door-to-door services to help save them money. We do this by working with multiple rescues up and down the east coast (currently, we are looking to expand) taking in sick and injured dogs that the rescues want to help, pick them up and transport them to our facility and then nurse them back to health.

For example: We work with MANY pneumonia cases. Dogs who are sick require isolation boarding and treatment which is very expensive. A case of pneumonia can cost a rescue $3500+ for medical care for the weeks worth of medical care in a private medical facility. Treating a dog with pneumonia at our facility will only run the rescue $350 - if anything at all! We offer many ways for rescues to lower their costs or COMPLETELY ELIMINATE them!

We are currently looking to expand via a Crowdfunding campaign to multiple, strategic locations across the US to bring our services to more rescues so that together, we can help save more dogs!


Update (Jun 27, 12:37PM EDT):

Nick Thompson says:

Sorry for the folks that wanted to participate in the LIVE video "AMA" , we have storms rolling through and the connection kept dropping out.  I think I answered all the questions here but  im sure there will be more.

We would like to turn this into a weekly thing, if you are interested please head over to our FB page and like our page to stay up to date with us! Every 500 likes we will be giving away free deer antlers, custom leashes and more.

Thank you very much to all the people who asked questions, lots of fantastic stuff! 

#PittieStrong Facebook Page

#PittieStrong Website

#PittieStrong Marketplace, items support our work

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I kind of know the answerbut would you say, dog from pound or a breeder? What would you say to those who really insist on a breeder because they want to get someting more stable, less question marks?

Jun 27, 8:43PM EDT0

Do you think reality shows like Pit Boss make a difference?

Jun 27, 6:41AM EDT48

Well that would depend on what you define as being a difference. Do shows like that help raise awareness to pitbulls and the likes? Absolutely. But I dont think they help as far as reducing the actual numbers of animals flowing in to shelters... We need to do more to raise awareness of spay/neutering pets, ending backyard breeders who birth a litter and sell them for a fast buck just so they dont need to find a "real" job, and educating the public as to the TRUE costs of owning a pet, especially a dog.

Jun 27, 8:59AM EDT43

What is special about keeping a dog, actually?

Jun 28, 2:47AM EDT25

How many rescued dogs are later returned to shelters?

Jun 26, 9:33PM EDT0

I would love to say zero, but that is sadly not the truth.I primarily work with rescue groups, who are the ones that do the actual adopting out. All of them have "return to us" policies that should you no longer want the dog you adopted from them, they will take them back. Most rescues also Microchip their animals so even if a person does drop them at a shelter and staff actually does their "due dillagence" the animal gets scanned, and up pops the rescue contact info. USUALLY, you will never see a "rescued" dog hit the shelter - but it does happen every so often. Rescues may refuse the animal back for a multitude of reasons (dog bites etc) - but they usually take them back.As far as people who get the urge and just go to the shelter, adopt a dog and take them straight home? Honestly at least 10% get returned in their lifetime. 

Jun 27, 9:07AM EDT0

How accurate are reality shows like Pit Bulls & Parolees?

Jun 26, 6:10PM EDT45

Personally? I don't really think any reality show is accurate. They are scripted and edited to make for exciting television... not to tell the whole story, or even the truth sometimes.  But they do a really good job IMHO of showing a wide range of what goes on in the rescue world. The work involved, and the joy... but also the heartache.It's a tough, NEVER ending business, and many people simply do not last. The mental toll it takes on folks, burns a lot of us out. You just have to continually focus on the positive, and not who you couldn't help today!

Jun 27, 9:14AM EDT38

You're right here, Nick!

Jun 28, 2:49AM EDT45

What is the advantage of having your pet micro-chipped?

Jun 26, 3:31PM EDT0

TIME! Nothing is more important than time when your pet goes missing. In every state in the USA it is illegal for people who find a "stray" animal to simply keep it without reporting it to the local authority. Those authorities, should ALL be checking the neck area with a device that will pull microchip information.Simply having a collar with your address/phone on it is not enough. Collars come off, it could get snagged on something in their roaming adventures. This is especially true with cats, that crawl around and sneak into spaces to hide - they get caught on fence posts, brances, etc. With the chip, as long as the contact info is up to date you are much better off, and even if it is out of date - they have something to go on, to help return the dog/cat to you!(I say authorities, because each area is different... some places have dedicated animal control, some the police do it, some have municipal shelters, local vets might be the go to... each area of the country is different)

Jun 27, 9:24AM EDT0

How do you respond to stigma about 'dangerous' dog breeds?

Jun 26, 10:16AM EDT10

CRY! Ok just kidding. You need to learn to choose your battles.

People form opinions for all sorts of reasons, who am I to judge them based solely on their own experiences? To be perfectly honest I don't have the patience to deal with people who only want to be negative. While it IS important to educate people, some times your time is better spent elsewhere. What is the point of getting in to a sparring match with someone for an hour - when you know that person isn't going to change their mind?

That is an hour I could have spent training a dog, who we might run in to this "hater" person on the street and impress the hell out of them with how well mannered the breed truly is. I don't know of a single breed of dogs that is born dangerous. But I know plenty of dogs who were made dangerous by people. (either purposefully or by accident)

Last edited @ Jun 27, 12:02PM EDT.
Jun 27, 9:37AM EDT17

Ok, what do you think about people keeping fighting dogs at home?

Jun 28, 3:01AM EDT31

How long does it take a rescue dog to adapt and bond?

Jun 26, 10:09AM EDT44

There really is no solid answer or even an average I could give you.

Some rescues were super neglected by their previous owners, so the first time you put food and water and a toy in front of them they are already bonded and yours for life. While others could have been so super neglected, they learned to fear humans, and it could take days, weeks, months, even a year or more. My advice for every new adoptee be it from your local shelter or from a rescue, take it slow! You do not know their past, even if the shelter or rescue has some history on them you will never know the whole story. Don't assume because you are comfortable with a situation that your new dog will be. Always try and do NEW things with them with as little outside interferance as possible. 

Our training program here starts with the same suggestions we tell other people, the first 10 days you do nothing exciting with your new dog. Feed them, take them for VERY SHORT walks to acclimate them to their new surroundings, give them things to keep them busy but avoid showing your dog off to any and everyone. They just spent the last week, month, year even - in a shelter, this is going to be a whole new routine for them. Let them get accustomed to you and your schedule. What time do you get up? What time do you leave for work? Do you come home for lunch? Does the doorbell ring at 4pm every day because UPS is dropping something off? Let them get comfortable in their new surroundings and then slowly integrate more and more stimuli in to their life. 

No one likes to keep the brand new car they bought parked in the garage, but this first two weeks is going to really help that dog get in to the grove with you. If I HAVE to give you an answer, 2-4 weeks.  :)

Last edited @ Jun 27, 12:03PM EDT.
Jun 27, 9:52AM EDT19


Jun 28, 3:05AM EDT28

What are the main reasons for animal strays in your area?

Jun 26, 10:09AM EDT0

Most of the strays locally are owner dumps, or dogs that simply got out of their yard. We THANKFULLY do not have much of a problem with strays here. We also have some pretty decent local shelters that dont usually ever reach capacity and that for the most part doesn't euthanize animals, even pitbulls, after a very very very very very long stay. 

The problem with our local shelters though, is they are very UN-RESCUE friendly and unless its for PR and they get the big media pat on the back, they dont work with local rescue groups.

Jun 27, 11:59AM EDT0

What kind of excuses are giving for dropping pets off at shelters?

Jun 26, 9:25AM EDT46


  • Im allergic
  • Im having a baby
  • They dont listen to me
  • Im moving
  • I dont have time
  • I have too many animals
  • Health issues
  • The animal is too old, i want a new one...

Just to name a few!

Last edited @ Jun 27, 12:00PM EDT.
Jun 27, 9:55AM EDT16

Do you think there should be a sort of punishment for dropping an animal?

Jun 28, 3:15AM EDT53

What is meant by the term 'no kill shelter'?

Jun 26, 9:13AM EDT17

Ah, one of those phrases that gets manipulated to meet the needs of the organization using it...

No Kill SHOULD mean that NO ANIMAL is EVER euthanized for ANY reason.

However in practice, this just isn't possible as everyone would run out of funds and there would still be millions of animals that need help. Many areas who claim to be "no kill" simply AREN'T - but they do clever things like claim dogs have health issues, or were aggressive at intake, etc. so they can be euthanized .... and NOT count towards "no kill" - which they will then try and claim means they didnt kill any easily adoptable animals.

Shelters do not want to spend their money on treating animals they do not believe will be adopted out. So when an animal comes in that is injured - say hit by a car and has a broken leg and a cut. Rather then send the dog to the vet to be treated, taking away hunderds of dollars out of their budget for just ONE dog, they will simply say they were humanely euthanized, and have them killed. Why should the shelter help 1 dog, when instead they could take in 15 more for the same price they would have spent saving just the 1 injured one?

Many shelters do have volunteers that help in situations like this. Letting rescue groups know about the sick and injured so that they can get pulled, treated, and eventually adopted out by the rescue group. But this is not always the case in all shelters... and reaching out to the public for help doesn't guarentee they will receive the care they need.

What NO KILL is for us - accidents happen. Especially with training. If a dog bites me or staff? That isnt a death sentance for them like it would be some other places. It gets marked in their chart, the rescue they came from gets notified, and we begin the decompression process... we then restart them on training after 10 days. If the rescue group says "nope, dogs dangerous, we dont want to pay for their care anymore, put them to sleep" - they can release the dog to us and we will continue with their training out of our own pockets. 

Last edited @ Jun 27, 12:30PM EDT.
Jun 27, 10:12AM EDT39

I wish more of these shelters were found around the world, it could really save so many animals ...

Jun 28, 3:05AM EDT54

What is the typical lifespan of a dog abandoned at a shelter?

Jun 26, 8:53AM EDT30

It could be hours, it could be 30 days. Or it could be years if the facility has the room to house them. This is tricky because what applies to my local shelter will be completely different than yours because there is no standardized type laws that state animals must be held for a certain period of time. But know if you are surrendering your animal, to an already full shelter, they likely wont be there long. :(

Jun 27, 12:28PM EDT48

That's true ...

Jun 28, 2:23AM EDT37

What makes some dogs easier to adopt than others?

Jun 26, 8:29AM EDT12

In a shelter scenario, definately how they present in their kennel. Do they approach to say hello to people or hide in the corner? are they jumping up and down like crazy? barking uncontrollably?

For a rescue group? How well that dog performs with others. Dogs that havent received any training and are labeled "only pet"  make them almost impossible to adopt out successfully. 

Jun 27, 12:06PM EDT48

Do you somehow train dogs so that they would behave better and be more attractive to people?

Jun 28, 2:36AM EDT11

What kind of behavioral rehab is provided for shelter dogs?

Jun 26, 7:56AM EDT0

Most shelters do not provide any sort of behavioral rehab, dogs who present as aggressive are nearly always euthanized. The risk to their staff, and then to the public after being adopted is great. Shelters simply do not have the money to spend on dogs that need a little help.

Shelter staff and volunteers might work with particular animals to help make them better adoption candidates but most do not have any official programs in place or enough funding to funnel more animals through their programs. (like the ASPCA facility)

Jun 27, 12:09PM EDT0

What are the sources of funding for pet shelters?

Jun 26, 5:12AM EDT0

Most shelters are going to be run by the town/city/county they are in, funding usually is very minimal and comes from things like taxes. Additionally there are all sorts of grants and money out there for the shelters to access IF they want. i.e. I know of grants available to make a shelter "no kill" 

Jun 26, 2:04PM EDT0

Is there any legal repercussion for dropping off an unwanted pet at a shelter?

Jun 26, 4:04AM EDT0

Potentially, yes. If you mean the dog was your dog, you gave them to the shelter, then the shelter adopts them out - they harm someone, can you get in trouble? No. Not at all.But if you are turning in a pet that was clearly abused or neglected, depending on your local laws and severity of the neglect you may potentially face charges. It is important to understand that animals are living, breathing creatures - if they need care, get them care. If you can't afford that care, look for outside resources - there are credit programs, grants, etc that may be available. 

Jun 27, 10:17AM EDT0

What are the options if you want to adopt a certain breed?

Jun 26, 3:31AM EDT0

Dont think every animal in the shelter is a mutt, if you want a purebred lab, boxer, dalmation, you name it -- there is likely many of them sitting in your local shelter or available through local rescue groups.If for some reason there is NOT, most rescues will help point you in the right direction to where you might find some. Just one example, I am up in New York, between here OH, PA, MD, NJ, VA, WV nearly 5,000 German Sheppards were killed just in the month of April 2017...

There are rescue groups for every single breed of dog out there, and groups that arent specific to breeds and just help out any dog or cat. If your local shelter does not have much of a selection, you might want to consider other area shelters -- or see if the local rescues have what you are looking for!

Jun 27, 10:24AM EDT0

Is there financial assistance if someone can't afford the adoption fee?

Jun 26, 3:21AM EDT41

Usually, yes there is. But it is tricky because if you can not afford the adoption fee - how can the shelter/rescue ensure you can provide for that animals care once they give them to you?Many local shelters have reduced or even no cost adoption days. These are usually on set days/weeks/months so if you call ahead and ask, they can tell you. While others will only reduce fees or eliminate fees when they are full and at capacity, to help reduce the numbers so they can take in more. If it is through a rescue group, Do not think because you can not afford their fee you can not adopt one of their animals.  Rescues like to see people have "skin in the game" so to speak. Many rescues shell out hunderds even thousands of dollars to get an animal to the point they can be adopted. The $100-400+ adoption fee usually reflects a level of care that was already given to that animal. Shots, spay/neuter, etc. This is usually what you are paying for. But many rescues will also let you volunteer your time walking their animals, or working local events etc to basically pay that fee. So dont think because you dont have a large chunk of money to put down up front - that you cant get a new furry loved one!

Jun 27, 10:31AM EDT40

Well, that's quite relieving, thanks!

Jun 28, 3:39AM EDT35

What are the biggest health issues in shelter dogs?

Jun 26, 2:14AM EDT37

Probably Kennel Cough ... which if not treated appropriately will quickly lead to pneumonia and death. Its a lot of dogs in usually not a lot of space - so anything that is communicable - may just spread.Depending on the type of facility, Shelter dogs can also come with minor things like "bed sores" or bald patches of fur - from being on a hard surface all the time.

Jun 27, 10:34AM EDT17

How actually do you treat Kennel Cough?

Jun 28, 3:41AM EDT47

Which dog breeds are the hardest to adopt out?

Jun 26, 1:53AM EDT22

Chihuahua & Labs... lots of breeders out there to compete with. 

Pitbulls because of their bad media rap over the last decade or so

Jun 27, 12:11PM EDT41

Strange, I thought Chihuahua were so popular ...

Jun 28, 3:01AM EDT31

What does the fee for adopting a pet cover?

Jun 26, 1:09AM EDT50

Every single place is going to be different - but USUALLY it includes all the current shots, rabies, and the spay/neuter and microchipping of that animal. 

Jun 27, 10:35AM EDT38

Thanks, Nick!

Jun 28, 2:53AM EDT38
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