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BMDCNV Rescue - BERNER Inc. bernese mountain dog rescue

In 2008, the BMDCNV voted to spin off its rescue and education programs into a separate 501(c)(3) corporation. Bernese Education and Rescue – Northeast Region, (BERNER Inc.) is a non-profit organization, staffed by a group of volunteers, working to provide medical care and placement in adoptive homes for BMDs who have been surrendered to shelters, pounds or to us.

We also endeavor to educate the public on responsible acquisition, care and training of BMDs in the hope that we can thus reduce the number of Bernese Mountain Dogs who are relinquished to rescue or to shelters.

Donations to support this work can be mailed to:

P.O. Box 202
South Berwick, ME 03908

Adopting a Bernese Mountain Dog

Giving Up a Bernese Mountain Dog

Read about BMDCNV Rescue happy endings

Special Training Offer for Berner Rescue Dogs and Other Berners

Adopting a Bernese Mountain Dog

Considering adopting a Bernese Mountain Dog? Please read this ENTIRE PAGE before going on to our adoption application, as rescued BMDs are not right for everyone. The process takes time, patience and knowledge of the breed. We recommend you submit your application BEFORE you find a dog on our website that is a potential match, as it may take time for the right dog to come along.

The Adoption Process

1. Your application will be reviewed by our application committee and you will be notified as to whether you have been approved for adoption.

2. Once your application is approved, it will be kept on file. When a suitable match comes in to rescue, you will be contacted and a home visit will be scheduled with you and all members of your household. Sometimes a match might be available right away but, more likely you will have to wait. Fortunately, we have tended to have more applicants than rescue dogs though sometimes the ratio may swing the other way.

NOTE: We do not have a blanket policy regarding fences for our rescue dogs. That said and all things being equal, those homes with secure fencing are likely to have a significant edge. You should also note that most of our rescue dogs are not good candidates for “invisible” (electronic) fencing.

Is adopting a BMD the right choice for you and your family?

General information about the breed is available from the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America,, and at While BMDs are generally known for having good temperaments, some of our rescue dogs are not perfect representatives of the breed in that regard. Many of our rescue dogs come from puppy mills and/or pet shops and from less than scrupulous breeders and may be extremely fearful due to either genetic predisposition and/or lack of early socialization/training. These dogs will require adoptive owners who are patient and consistent and have the ability and willingness to work with a certified trainer if necessary. Please familiarize yourself with the potential health and orthopedic problems present in the breed, and relatively short lifespan of the breed, at the links above, before you decide to add one to your family.

What is the typical rescue Berner like?

The typical rescue Berner comes to us between the ages of 12-24 months (still considered a puppy in the Berner world). It is more likely to be a male than a female. Generally, the dog has received little or no training and may be a 70-100 lb. brat. Alternatively, the dog may be coming into rescue because an impulse purchase from a pet shop or puppy mill has been found to have considerable health problems (usually orthopedic). Older dogs, frequently with health problems also come into the program.

Berners are large, strong dogs, bred for pulling carts. An adolescent who has had no training or a fearful, shy Berner can be a challenge to integrate into your home. Some dogs may come with health and/or orthopedic problems. It’s rare for a healthy, well socialized, well trained dog to be relinquished to rescue, though it sometimes occurs. If you’re simply looking for a bargain-Berner, this is not the route to take. If you’re looking to make a difference - to turn a dog’s life around, this route can bring you great joy.


We spay or neuter every dog before placement, unless he/she is too young or unless surgery presents a significant health risk to the dog. A dog placed that has not been spayed or neutered for any reason whatsoever, will require a signed spay/neuter contract and have the procedure done by the adopted owner within a short time of the adoption. Dogs placed with a spay/neuter contract will be required to pay an additional deposit over and above the adoption fee, which will be returned to you when we receive a copy of the spay/neuter certificate.

Training and Socialization

All dogs need to be trained in order to be good citizens. Most adopters will be required to enroll in and participate in a basic obedience class with their adopted dog. All Adopters are encouraged to take a basic obedience class with their dogs.

Acquiring a Dog

WE DO NOT SHIP RESCUE DOGS. However, IF we are able to get a Bernese Mountain Dog rescue worker in your area to do a home visit, and we can approve you based on the results, AND you are willing to come to New England to meet/pick up the dog yourself, we are willing to consider your application, even if you do not live in New England.

Matching Dogs with Owners

It is our responsibility to place each of our dogs with the home best suited for them, regardless of the order in which applications are received. Rescue is not a “first come, first serve” situation, and we appreciate your understanding that our goal is always to provide the best possible home we can for each dog we have, so that they never have to come into rescue again. Not every dog is suitable for every home, no matter how good or loving a family is. That is why our goal is to get to know both you and our dogs as well as we possibly can, to make sure that EVERYONE lives happily ever after.

While we completely understand how easy it is to fall in love with a photo or a sad story, we hope that you will also understand our commitment to our dogs is our sole purpose for doing this work. Please also understand that you are likely not the only applicant for a particular dog and it is often our difficult task to try and make the best match for that dog, which is no reflection on you as an adopter.

Home Visit

Once you have an approved application on file, if a dog comes along that seems right for you a rescue volunteer will contact you to schedule a home visit. One or two of our volunteers will come to your home and meet with you and your family to ensure that this will be the best possible match for both you and for the dog. We require that all people living in the home are present for the home visit.

Adoption Fee

There is an adoption fee for every BERNER Inc. dog available for adoption. Currently our adoption fee is $350.00. This fee allows BERNER INC, to ensure that all our rescue dogs have been spayed or neutered, micro chipped and are current on all vaccines and heartworm prevention. It also helps us to provide medical care as needed while the dog is in rescue, beyond the basics, in cases where a dog’s quality of life is directly affected by his/her physical health. (Note: BERNER Inc. may choose to waive the adoption fee under certain unusual circumstances.)

The adoption fees alone do not cover our costs and we conduct fund raisers and solicit donations to ensure that every one of our dogs who needs help and care receives it.

Adoption Application

In an effort to make the best possible match between you and a dog, we ask that you take the time to fill out our comprehensive questionnaire and expect to spend time discussing it before the adoption is complete.

NOTE: We will not accept applications from people under the age of 18. Applications must be submitted by the person adopting the dogs. We will not adopt dog to third parties or to be given as gifts. To complete an application, please click here

Giving Up a Bernese Mountain Dog


Toll-free Rescue Hotline - To be used only regarding the relinquishing of a Berner: 1-877-4BMDCNV (1-877-426-3268)

Are you considering giving up a dog? Please read all of the information below.

Available Foster Homes

BERNER Inc. is a small group of volunteers who foster dogs in our own homes. Most of us have dogs of our own, so our capacity to take dogs into our care is limited.

Contact the Breeder First

Responsible breeders will assist you in “re-homing” your dog and we are happy to help such breeders locate potential homes for the dog. If you have contacted your breeder and he/she has declined to assist you, please be prepared to tell us who the breeder is and supply us with their phone number. If you got your dog from a pet store, we would like to know the name and address.

Priority of Dogs in Need

We must give priority to dogs that are in jeopardy, which usually means dogs from pounds or shelters or dogs that have been abandoned at a vet’s office. Due to our limited foster care ability, we ask for your patience and cooperation. We need time to arrange for evaluation of your dog, to obtain all veterinary records and to locate a suitable foster home. It is unreasonable to call us and say that your dog needs to leave your home tomorrow or to call us two days before you leave on vacation. We endeavor to move the process along as quickly as possible – usually within 4 to 10 days.

Please do not think that turning your dog into a shelter gives it a better chance of coming into rescue. Shelters routinely euthanize dogs if over crowded or if the dog is deemed a poor placement prospect. Your best bet would be to contact us and keep your dog until a space opens up.

Medical Records

You may be required to pay a relinquishing fee to cover costs incurred by us if your dog:

• Is not spayed or neutered

• Is not up to date on vaccinations

• Has no current medical records

We require copies of your dog’s vet records at the time of relinquishment. If you do not have them available, we will require your vets contact information so we can request them and you will have to call your clinic to let them know it is OK to release the dog’s records.

Temperament Evaluation

All dogs entering our adoption program must be evaluated by one of our representatives. We cannot accept a dog that shows aggressive behavior toward humans or has a history of biting. We do, however, recognize that each situation is unique and will be happy to discuss your dog’s behavior and help you determine what your options are.

If your dog is aggressive, it is your responsibility to find an appropriate trainer or behaviorist to help you with the problem, or have the dog euthanized yourself. It is not fair to your dog or to us, to ask us to do this for you, which is what will happen if your dog shows aggression after you relinquish it. It is not ethical, fair or humane to put our volunteers or the public in danger by not disclosing your dog’s potentially dangerous behavior. The “home in the country” where your aggressive dog will be happy and safe is a fantasy. Taking responsibility for your own dog’s training is his best chance at staying alive.

You will be required to sign a relinquishing contract which states that you are aware of any behavioral problems your dog has exhibited while in your possession.

We are happy to recommend trainers/behaviorists in your area to help you with your dog’s problems. Please for more information.

All BERNER Inc. dogs are in foster care a minimum of 2 weeks (most average about 4-6 weeks) so we can thoroughly evaluate their behavior. We will not place a dog directly from an owner’s home.

Important Note

Should you decide to relinquish your dog to BERNER Inc., you will be required to sign a relinquishment agreement in which you give up the rights of ownership of your dog to the care of BERNER Inc. You will not have input as to whom/where your dog is fostered or adopted, trusting that we will make all decisions in your dog’s best interests. We can provide you with general updates on your dog’s well-being only. IF an adopter wishes to be in contact with you, we can pass along your information, with your permission, but it will be up to them to contact you.

If, after reading this entire page you still wish to give up your dog, please or call 1-877-4BMDCNV (877-426-3268).

Thanks go to New England Border Collie Rescue for their assistance in preparing the content for this information.
BERNER Inc. Rescue Happy Endings
Sophie's Story - A rescue Berner can dare to dream can't she? Read about Sophie's remarkable transformation from a fearful, unsocialized girl to a confident CGC-titleholder.
Porter's Story - Learn how a lucky dog named Porter found out how truly good life can be with a family like the Stevens family!
Gracie's Story - One of the Club's littlest rescues. Read how this brave girl from a puppy mill in Missouri got a second chance at just 9 weeks old.
Maddie's Story - Here's Lisa Seretto's beautiful tribute to her rescue girl Maddie, who earned a Novice Draft Dog title just 10 months after finding Lisa.
Emma's Story - Who says a 10-year old Berner should rest on her laurels? Read how Penny Petrone has given this remarkable girl her forever home and a new career as a certified therapy dog!
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