Pet Rescue Standards

Pet Rescue Standards of Care and Transparency – Advice for Adopters, Donors or Volunteers

We offer the following guidelines for the public when considering whether to adopt a dog, cat or other animal from pet rescue group, or to support one financially or otherwise. Does the dog or cat rescue meet the following?

  1. Veterinary care. Who is the rescue’s primary vet? A good rescue should not hesitate to share this information with you. Call the vet to understand the rescue’s standards of care. Is the rescue current – financially – on it’s accounts? etc.
  2. Partner Organizations. What organizations do they partner with – or rescue from – are they legit? Where does the rescue get their animals? If they actively work to ‘pull’ pets from kill-shelters, we suggest you contact the shelter organization directly and ask about their impressions and experiences working with the rescue.
  3. Vet Examinations. Are the rescue’s adoptable pets examined by a vet? Will they provide veterinary paperwork indicating this is the case?
  4. Adoption Fee. What is the rescue’s adoption fee? A reasonable fee for a dog is $100-$250, assuming dogs are chipped, spayed/neutered and vet-checked. An adoption fee for cats should range $30 to $75. There are a few exceptions to this where extraordinary medical care costs may warrant a higher fee, but a good rescue should not regularly be ‘making money’ off of the dogs they adopt.
  5. Post-Adoption Support. Does the rescue provide support to adoptive families? Is there a qualified trainer available to help work through possible issues or challenges? What is the rescue group’s policy if the adoption doesn’t work out or if an animal becomes very sick soon after adoption?
  6. Operations. Is there an actual facility or does the rescue rely on a foster home network to care for adoptable pets? A facility organization, you should be able to visit without question – although an appointment may be required. If the rescue operates through a network of foster homes, do ask the rescue about their support of foster families and the frequency of communications.
  7. Governance. Is there an active Board? An active and diverse board of at least 4 board members who meet regularly, is a good indication of an organization that is guided by reasonable, sound thinking, not just emotion.
  8. Rescue Size. How many pets are in the rescue’s care? Is it a reasonable number, not over-taxing existing resources? Unfortunately there are a never ending ‘supply’ of unwanted, family-less pets and too often inexperienced or poorly managed rescue organizations choose to take on “just one more” rescue, when the resources are just not available. Saving “just one more” can overburden a group to the point that can compromise and do harm the population of animals already in its care.
  9. Knowledgeable People. Are there knowledgeable animal care person(s) on the rescue’s leadership team? Are there key volunteers or staff with backgrounds in veterinary care, animal care and training or other similar fields? Ideally there should be one or more key persons in the organization with at least 5-10 years each, of experience and knowledge in dog and/or cat behavior and care.

A good pet rescue should readily provide answers to questions in these areas. Transparency is essential. If a rescue is not forthcoming about their operations and relationships in the community, let this fact and your intuition guide you.

One final note – indeed there are many, many fine rescue organizations doing incredible, life-saving work for the animals. We applaud these groups and their commitment, and total dedication to saving lives. With most rescues we expect you should have a wonderful experience finding a great new friend.

So go forth, and adopt a rescue pet today!