NEW HOLLAND — Finding new homes for Weimaraners whose owners don’t want them anymore isn’t Weimaraner Rescue of South Carolina’s only mission. The organization also tries to stop rescues from becoming necessary.

“We do owner surrender prevention,” said Melissa Hartley, Weimaraner Rescue’s president and canine behavior consultant. “At no charge to Weimaraner owners, we work with them to solve behavior problems in an attempt to prevent dogs from needing to be rescued. We are not here to judge people; we are here to help people. Last year, we were able to prevent nine surrenders of Weimaraners.”

Weimaraners are the products of German breeding. Believed to be a descendant of bloodhounds, Weimaraners originally were used to hunt wolves, deer and bear. Later, when bigger game became rare, Weimaraners were used to hunt birds.

Artist William Wegman created a popular series of photos that showed Weimaraners in various costumes and poses. Because of his work, interest in the breed grew significantly.

“People saw his images of Weimaraners and thought they were beautiful, but they didn’t realize that Weimaraners weren’t like other sporting breeds,” said Hartley, who owns Sindar Kennel and has three Weimaraners as pets. “Weimaraners are considered one of the neediest breeds in all of the American Kennel Club. They want to have a lot of face time with their humans. They will follow you from room to room. They are very intelligent and want to be with you all the time, and that combination can be too much for some people.”

Weimaraner Rescue places 50 to 80 surrendered dogs with new owners each year.

Each potential adoptive owner must fill out an application and be interviewed by Hartley for about 45 minutes.

“We identify the traits a Weimaraner needs to have to be a good match for a particular family or individual,” Hartley said. “Then we cross-check that with the traits of the Weimaraners we have available for adoption. We do the matching. We don’t just let people pick a random dog out of the program.”

Weimaraner Rescue’s adoption fees are $350 for dogs under 1 year of age and $250 for dogs 1 year of age and older. However, there is no fee for special needs dogs and dogs 7 years of age and older.

Weimaraner Rescue is an all-volunteer organization. Its operating budget last year was $10,000.

“Foster homes are what we need the most,” Hartley said. “We pay for all food and health care, and we arrange for alternate care if the people providing the foster home need to leave town for any reason.”

For more information, email, call 803-467-7548 or visit

Dede Biles is a general assignment reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since January 2013. A native of Concord, N.C., she is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.