Bend website helps find new home for Fido

Careful questions designed to help dogs find right spot

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photoPhotos by Rob Kerr/ The Bulletin Reese Mercer of FidoLove.com, a longtime volunteer at humane societies, gets to know Bram, a 1-year-old poodle Erika Montgomery is listing on Mercer's website during a Nov. 22 meeting at Hollinshead Park in Bend, Ore.

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BEND, Ore. — While Tebow seemed like a real catch at first, it soon became apparent to his owners that he had some problems.

He was demanding. He could snap. And perhaps most damning, he didn't get along with the owners' 1-year-old daughter.

Tebow's owners had to let him go.

But instead of ending up on the streets or at a shelter, Tebow, a 2-year-old Labradoodle, is now happily situated with a new family that better meets his needs.

"We weren't really looking for another dog, but then a friend of mine forwarded his profile to me. He was so cute-looking," said Lori Moberg, Tebow's new owner. "He was in the car driving back home with us 24 hours later."

Tebow, now called "Tim," is one of 67 once-unwanted dogs who have found new homes through the website FidoLove.com, which brings together people who need to rehome pooches and people looking to adopt a dog.

The service is the brainchild of Brightside Animal Center volunteer Reese Mercer, who has spent more than 15 years volunteering with humane societies. Mercer, who works in Internet marketing, started the site last year. It now has about 60 listings in Oregon, Washington and Northern California.

The idea behind the service is fairly simple: Allow people who can no longer take care of their dog a chance to rehome it while ensuring the dog ends up with a compatible family. Both prospective adopters and those who need to rehome their dogs are screened through a series of questions to find the best possible match. Pet owners are asked to include what sort of problems the dog might have had in the past, while the potential new owner is asked to include any issues they are not willing to take on in a pet. Creating a profile for a dog costs owners $9.99, which goes toward the cost of the website.

Mercer was inspired to create the service after a conversation she had at the animal shelter.

"Somebody called in and said that they could no longer take care of their dog, but didn't want to give the dog to a shelter or list the dog on Craigslist," said Mercer. "She wanted to know what to do. I didn't know how to answer her question, but it got me thinking about ways we could help."

Mercer said one of the goals with the service is to ease any guilt the old owner might have over needing to get rid of a dog.

"I realized that you could sit and be judgmental all day long and put your own ideas on someone, but at the end of the day, that's not going to help the dog," she said. "The website is trying to liberate people from guilt, and say that it's OK to rehome their dog. Not to encourage it, but to tell them that it's OK."

Most people who decide to rehome their pet often face limited options, Mercer said. Craigslist's pet listings are popular, but don't offer much in the way of screening when it comes to potential owners.

"I'm sure there are some very awesome people looking for dogs on Craigslist," said Erika Montgomery, a Bend resident who is using FidoLove to rehome her 1-year-old poodle. "But at the same time, there are probably some people on there who would get a dog, throw it in a backyard, tie it to a tree and feed it twice a week."

Montgomery first got her poodle, Bram, from a rescue shelter after her previous dog died. But she now realizes she got a dog too soon, and that both herself and her other dog just aren't ready for a new member of the family.

"I think I just brought this one home a little too soon, through no fault of his own," Montgomery said. "It's really just a grieving issue."

After listing Bram on the website last week, Montgomery has gotten two inquiries so far from prospective owners. She said the website has made rehoming her dog a lot easier.

"It asks a lot of good questions," Montgomery said. "Especially for someone who hasn't done a dog rescue before. A lot of those people might not think to ask those questions, but they're already built into the website."

Moberg, who found Tebow through the site, said the process was just as easy on the adoption side.

"I thought the questions were very fair and pertinent," Moberg said. "It's very comprehensive, and I thought it was fair for both potential adopters and the people rehoming them."

Tim is now happily situated on Moberg's 40 acres in Powell Butte. He gets along perfectly with Moberg's other dogs, she said.

"He's adjusted fine," Moberg said. "It's my belief that really the dogs aren't usually the problem. It's just the situation. People get overwhelmed, or have life changes and don't have time to give them the attention they need."

Mercer, who has several local businesses sponsoring the website, said people from all over the country have contacted her asking if the website features dogs in their areas. At this point, Mercer is planning to expand slowly eastward, and hopes to help save shelters money by rehoming dogs before they end up on the shelter doorstep.

"I think there's a lot of pressure for dogs to have a forever home," Mercer said. "But the idea of a forever home isn't always in the best interest for the dog. What is, is a home that can meet all the dog's needs."