How to Start a Pet Rescue Organization

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Every day, perfectly healthy, sweet and adoptable pets are being euthanized in animal shelters due to a lack of space and funding. Even “no-kill” shelters are faced with finding potential foster homes for their wards, or risking overcrowding and the threat of illness this brings. If you are interested in setting up your own pet rescue organization and taking some of the burden off of the over-filled shelters, here are some things you can do to make your plan a success.

Things You'll Need

  • Cages, food, toys
  • Transporters
  • Newspapers
  • Find out about other rescue agencies in your area. A good place to look is petfinder.com. You can enter your zip code to get a complete listing of all the different animal rescue organizations nearby (see Resources below).

  • Decide if you want to rescue a particular breed, species or sub-type, such as “three-legged dogs.” Your Internet research should give you an idea of where there is the most need, but you should follow your heart and decide what would give you the most satisfaction. If you are a cat person, don’t feel that you have to start a parrot rescue. If you love all kinds of animals, you may want to open your rescue up to every type.

  • Find a veterinarian that is willing to work with you at a discount. Find a pet supply store that will donate supplies or provide a discount on pet products. Let them know that you intend to mention their name on your website, in press releases and in any media correspondences.

  • Make a plan. Decide where the animals will be kept. Will you have foster families? Do you have space in your own home? Find out about any town ordinances that may dictate the amount of animals allowed on one property. If there are restrictions, you may be able to apply for and receive a variance.

  • Put together your team. If you are planning to have foster families hosting the pets, have a list of people, and know how many and what type of animals they are willing to house. Have them sign a document that explains the rules of the organization. Will they be allowed to adopt an animal they have fostered? Will there be a time limit to the amount of time an animal is expected to stay in their home? Who will pay for the food, vet bills and any other expenses associated with keeping the pet? Make sure all of these issues are clear and in writing, and have the paperwork signed by both parties before handing over any pet.

  • Apply for your not-for-profit (401 C-3) status. It may take some time, but you don’t have to wait for the confirmation before you begin rescues.

  • Build a website and get the word out about your organization. If you partner with petfinder.com, they will allow you to link your site to their site. Once your organization becomes part of their data bank, you will have access to potential adopters from all over the country.

  • Put the word out about your organization wherever you can. Write a press release and send it to your local newspapers, TV and radio stations, veterinarians’ offices and any other place where people from the area will see it. If you’re planning to ask for donations, this is the time. Put a need list in your press release so that potential benefactors will know what you need–cages, pet food, medical supplies, credit or cash. If you are looking for partners in transporting the animals from one area to another, put that information in the press release, as well.

  • Create a list of rules and qualifications for adoption.

  • Find a grant writer, or take a class in grant writing so that you can apply for grants.

  • Join a philanthropy website, such as foundationcenter.com so that you can receive alerts about potential funders for your organization (see Resources below).

  • Contact your local shelters to let them know about your organization. Also, if you are focusing on a specific breed rescue, let breeders and regional breed rescues know of your willingness to take in new rescues.

  • Contact your local shelters to let them know about your organization. Also, if you are focusing on a specific breed rescue, let breeders and regional breed rescues know of your willingness to take in new rescues.

  • Put a need list in your press release so that potential benefactors will know what you need–cages, pet food, medical supplies, credit or cash. If you are looking for partners in transporting the animals from one area to another, put that information in the press release, as well.

Tips & Warnings

  • Unless you are trained in animal behavior, never bring an overtly aggressive animal into your home. An animal that bites or attacks should be put down, since it poses a risk to anyone that might adopt it.
  • Photo Credit bigphoto.com
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Resources

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