I haven't done rescue since Doc, so it's been five years, but from memory, here's what my experience was:
Ok. For those of you who run a rescue, do you have a working relationship with SPCA and Humane Societies or do you do more grass roots rescues only?
The rescue I worked with had a pretty close relationship with a couple of shelters. One was the MDSPCA, another was the shelter in Baltimore now known as BARCS ... the shelters would sometimes call or email seeking someone to take in a dog in need, sometimes we'd go there and evaluate dogs and/or request dogs ... We also pulled the occasional dog from SPCAs in different areas, if they contacted us and said they needed help.
If you do partner with an SPCA or HS, what exactly does this entail?
Wasn't so much a partnership as it was just a working relationship with the shelters. They knew who we were, we had filled out whatever paperwork they needed, they knew we altered our dogs prior to adoptions, screened homes, knew what our application looked like, etc., so they more or less "approved" us to take pit bulls and American bulldogs from them as needed.
Who pays for what?
With two of the shelters, we paid for everything for the dog, but there was no "pull fee" to take the dog in. Dogs came to use with absolutely nothing--no shots, no HW tests, no treatment for illnesses. With one of the shelters, they vetted all dogs prior to release (altering, shots, HW test) and would charge a very modest pull fee (was $75 at the time) to cover the cost, so it was more than reasonable.
Are animals vetted and sneutered before they get to you?
See above ... not usually, but we had one shelter that did do so.
Who decides what animal goes to your organization, you or the shelter?
They would call us when they had a dog "in need of release to rescue," and we would evaluate the dog and decide if it was a dog that we could handle.
What legal contracts or other paperwork do you require?
All the shelters had legal release forms so that the dogs would legally belong to the rescue ... I can't remember there being anything else we filled out or had them fill out.
Are you treated like a dumping ground by the larger orgs?
Sometimes, yes. We often got calls for dogs with expensive medical issues or dogs with questionable temperaments or dogs that weren't "doing well" in the shelter environment or dogs that were so emaciated they were about to drop dead after a the shelter's hold period was up ... sometimes we took those dogs in ... well, often we did. Occasionally, we just didn't have the resources to do so.
But sometimes, they just called us because they had a really nice dog that they wanted to make sure had a good chance of getting a home. Tucker's litter, for instance, came from BARCS and I ended up with them because they were such nice puppies that they didn't want to have to put down for being "pit bull mixes." A stellar bunch of pups. So it could go either way, and it always depended on the shelter and who was running the rescue program there.