Thursday, September 24, 2015

Information (Request) Overload

When I took over the presidency of the German Shepherd Dog Club, my phone number and email address were posted on the club's website. I knew that was going to happen. What I didn't know was that I would be bombarded by German shepherd and/or dog and/or club questions from complete strangers. I average a call or email every 4 or 5 days. In the past three months I've gotten information requests from:
  • The American Kennel Club
  • The German Shepherd Dog Club of America
  • The Florida Association of Kennel Clubs
  • Other local dog clubs
  • GSD owners with breed-specific questions
  • People without GSDs with breed-specific questions
  • People with vague, non-specific questions
  • Rescue groups looking for foster families
  • People looking for rescue groups
  • People with links to dogs in high-kill shelters but don't know what to do about them
  • People looking for breeders
  • People complaining about breeders
  • People looking to get rid of their dogs
  • People looking for a veterinarian
  • People looking for medical advice without going to a veterinarian
  • People looking for a trainer
  • People looking for advanced training tips without paying for a trainer
  • People moving to North Florida wanting advice about GSD friendly neighborhoods
  • People who live in other parts of Florida but can't find anybody locally to answer their questions
  • And finally, people actually interested about the club
I also get about two dozen emails a month from club members. All these calls and emails get overwhelming. I answer the questions as best as I can, but I am not a German shepherd dog expert. Neither am I a veterinarian, trainer, behaviorist or real estate agent. That being said, here is some of the answers/advice I've given:
I will not give out anybody's personal information without speaking to them first. I don't care who's asking.

If you are seeking a donation, please send me something in writing and I will present it to the Board of Directors. We will make a decision and get back to you. If you can't wait then the answer is no.

I can answer general breed specific questions. For detailed questions I will refer you to the breed standard and the German Shepherd Dog Club of America. If you have a question about your specific dog, you should talk to your breeder and/or veterinarian.

We are an enthusiasts group, not a breed rescue. We can't take in dogs. I will gladly pass your information on to the membership and they will contact you directly if they can help. Meanwhile, I suggest you contact a bona fide rescue group. I can give you the names of the few that I know personally, but a Google search will give you better results.

I don't feel comfortable giving out medical or behavioral advice. Please seek a professional. I know they can be expensive. I'll give you the names of the vets and trainers that I know, but you should do your own research.

I will gladly give you the names of the breeders in our club. (I have their permission to do so.) I can't guarantee that they will have a puppy when you want one. However, they may be able to refer you to other breeders they feel comfortable with. I will also give you tips and resources for what to look for when selecting a breeder. Best of luck!

If you are unhappy with a particular breeder, you should contact the AKC and the Better Business Bureau. If you're in the state of Florida, I can give you state statutes about the Pet Lemon Law. I am so sorry you had a bad experience. However, I refuse to participate in any breeder bashing.

I would love to tell you all about our German Shepherd Dog Club. I'll give you the link to our website and Facebook page. I would like to personally invite you out to our next meeting and will make sure that you are welcomed by all the attending members. I'll give you the time, date and a Google map to the location, as well as my cell phone number in case you get lost.
So, what do you think? I shared this list with a friend of mine. She had two suggestions:
  1. I designate someone to handle correspondence and
  2. We have an FAQ page on our website. 
I'm not sure about the first one, but I think an FAQ page is great idea. Unfortunately, I don't have the time (or talent) to create one. I really, really wish we could find a member who not only loves German shepherds but is also a computer guru. Am I asking too much? Do you have any ideas?
Anyway, it's my (supposed) day off. I've got emails to answer and errands to run. Then I'm going to join Ruckus the Eskie, M.K. Clinton and the pups over at Love is Being Owned by a Husky and celebrate Thoughtless Thursday, where some of my favorite bloggers share random stuff. Click around below and see what others are thinking (and not thinking) about today. Later, -- K

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