Animal rescue group

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For other uses, see Rescue and Rescue (disambiguation).

An animal rescue group or animal rescue organization is dedicated to pet adoption. These groups take unwanted, abandoned, abused, or stray pets and attempt to find suitable homes for them. Many rescue groups are created by and run by volunteers, who take the animals into their homes and care for them — including training, playing, handling medical issues, and solving behavior problems — until a suitable permanent home can be found.

Rescue groups exist for most pet types (reptile rescue, rabbit rescue or bird rescue), but are most common for dogs and cats. For animals with many breeds, rescue groups may specialize in specific breeds or groups of breeds.[1] For example, there might be local Labrador Retriever rescue groups, hunting dog rescue groups, large-dog rescue groups, as well as general dog rescue groups.

Widely recognized as an umbrella organization for animal rescue groups, is an online, searchable database of more than 13,000 shelters and adoption agencies across the United States, Canada and Mexico.[2] The American Kennel Club maintains a list of contacts, primarily within breed clubs, with information on breed rescue groups for purebred dogs in the United States.

Animal shelters often work closely with rescue groups, because shelters that have difficulty placing otherwise healthy and pet-worthy animals would usually rather have the animal placed in a home than euthanized; while shelters might run out of room, rescue groups can often find volunteers with space in their homes for temporary placement. Some organizations (such as Old Dog Haven) work with older animals whose age would likely cause them to be euthanized in county pounds. Each year, approximately 3-4 million cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters due to overcrowding and a shortage of foster homes.[3]

In the United Kingdom, both shelter and rescue organisations are described using the blanket term rescue, whether they have their own premises, buy in accommodation from commercial kennels, or operate a network of foster homes, where volunteers keep the animals in their homes until adoption.

Kennels that have a council contract to take in stray dogs are usually referred to as dog pounds. Some dog pounds also carry out rescue and rehoming work and are effectively rescue groups that operate a pound service. Some rescue groups work with pounds to move dogs to rescues. By law, a dog handed in as a stray to a UK pound must be held for seven days before it can be rehomed or euthanized.

In the USA, there are three classifications for pet rescue:

  • A municipal shelter is a facility that houses stray and abandoned animals, as well as animals that people can no longer care for, on behalf of local governments
  • A no-kill shelter is a usually private organization whose policies include the specification that no healthy, pet-worthy animal be euthanized
  • Not-for-profit rescue organizations typically operate through a network of volunteer foster homes.[4] These rescue organizations are also committed to a no-kill policy.

Comparing rescue groups and shelters[edit]

There are two major difference between shelters and rescue groups. Shelters are usually run and funded by local governments.[5] Rescue groups are funded mainly by donations and most of the staff are volunteers. While some shelters place animals in foster homes, many are housed on-site in kennels. Some rescue groups have facilities and others do not. Foster homes are heavily utilized in either case.

Within the dog rescue community, there are breed-specific and all-breed rescues.[6] As its name implies, breed-specific rescues save purebred dogs of a certain breed, for example, Akitas, Boxers, Dalmatians, Labrador Retrievers, etc. Almost every breed is supported by a network of national and international rescue organizations with the goal to save abandoned dogs of this breed. All-breed rescues are not limited to purebred dogs. Instead they save dogs of any breed. Many work with specific shelters to support their efforts.

Adopting through a rescue group[edit]

Most rescue groups use similar adoption procedures, including completing an application, checking a veterinary reference, conducting a phone interview and a home visit. Rescue organizations are usually volunteer-run organizations and survive on donations and adoption fees.[7] The adoption fees do not always cover the significant costs involved in rescue, which can include traveling to pick up an animal in need, providing veterinary care, vaccinations, food, spaying and neutering, training, and more.

Most animals in the care of rescue groups live with foster home volunteers as members of the family until an appropriate adopter is found. There are a number of different techniques that can be used to make the transition from life at a rescue's foster home to an adoptive home easier on the animal. Generally, rescue groups provide adopters with basic information to aid in a successful transition.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Chipley, Abigail (September 2000). "In the News: Gimme Shelter". Vegetarian Times (Sabot Publishing) (177): 21. 
  2. ^ Sweeney, Michael S. (2010). "Further Resources". Dog Tips From DogTown: A Relationship Manual for You and Your Dog. National Geographic Society. ISBN 9781426206696. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Biniok, Janice (2009). The Doberman Pinscher. TFH Publications. ISBN 9780793842537. 
  5. ^ Bial, Raymond (2011). Rescuing Rover: Saving America's Dogs. Houghton Mifflin. p. 40. ISBN 9780547341255. 
  6. ^ Smith, Caroline (2007). The Complete Guide to Border Collies. Kevin Winslet. p. 50. ISBN 9781908793034. 
  7. ^ Cannon, Sue (December 2004). "Ariel Rescue". Orange Coast Magazine 30 (12).