There are many options for adding an animal to your household, including purchasing from a responsible breeder, getting an animal from a rescue organization, and adopting from a local shelter. This article is part of a series providing information on each of the above options, as well as an overview of how to select the right animal for your home. (Note: I do not recommend buying an animal from a pet store as animals in pet stores are basically guaranteed to come from puppy mills or other inhumane breeding operations, regardless of what the staff at the store may claim. The best way to put animal mills out of business is to deprive them of profits.)
The first article in this series discussed adopting an animal from a shelter.
Today’s topic is adopting from a rescue organization.
There are dozens of animal rescue organizations in the Los Angeles area. They range from small rescue organizations run by just one or two people (such as Pup Squad Rescue) to rescue organizations with a full board of directors and a facility housing animals (such as The Amanda Foundation). Some rescue organizations keep animals on their own property until they are ready for adoption (such as Dude’s Ranch Equine Rescue Center and BunnyLuv Rabbit Resource Center), while others put each animal in a foster home (such as Border Collie Rescue of California). And don’t forget we live in Tinseltown — some rescue organizations, such as Much Love Animal Rescue have honorary boards with a large number of celebrities who donate their time and money to help raise awareness and save animals.
Different rescue organizations have different missions. Perfect Pet Rescue, for example, mostly pulls small dogs from Los Angeles area shelters. Golden Retriever rescue (there are two: Golden Retriever Club of Greater Los Angeles Rescue and Southern California Golden Retriever Rescue) specializes in Golden Retrievers. Some rescue organizations get most or all of their animals from shelters, while others take in animals from the public and even pick up strays. Whatever it is you want, there is most likely a rescue organization that provides it. Take some time to search online or ask other rescue organizations if there is a rescue in the area that specializes in what you are looking for.
Rescue organizations, especially those that have brick & mortar facilities, may seem indistinguishable from shelters, but they tend to operate quite differently. For one thing, rescue organizations are usually 501(c)(3) entities, which means they do not operate to make a profit, and the money you give them is technically a donation (which may be tax-deductible, depending on your circumstances).
In addition, most rescue organizations have a rather extensive application process, and reserve the right to reject any applicant. Just about anyone who can pay the requisite fees can adopt an animal from a municipal or county shelter, but rescue organizations almost always look into your ability to care for an animal, as well as whether the animal you have chosen is likely to be a good fit. Some rescue organizations merely have an application form that they use to help them make a better determination, while others do extensive adoption counseling and even visit your home to make sure the animal you have selected is a good fit.
Finally, many rescue organizations require that you return animals adopted from them to the rescue organization in the event your circumstances change (for example, if you need to relocate to a home that does not allow pets). This helps the rescue organization ensure the animal is rehomed appropriately. Shelters have no such restrictions.
Some people find the application process and contracts used by rescue organizations intrusive, and the financial outlay is often higher, but there are many benefits to outweigh those costs. For example, rescue organizations are generally able to give you much more information about the animal you are considering. Rescue organizations are almost always less overcrowded than shelters, so they have the time and staff to give each animal individual attention. What’s more, since many rescue organizations place animals in foster homes before they are adopted, a rescue organization may actually be able to tell you a great deal about the animal (for example, whether the animal is good with other animals, litter trained, safe around children, etc.), which is almost never the case with a shelter.
This article lists only a small fraction of the rescue organizations serving the greater Los Angeles area. A simple online search will yield the names of many more rescue organizations. Two other good resources for finding an animal that suits your needs are Petfinder and Adopt a Pet, both of which collect information from both rescue organizations and shelters and allow you to search by type of animal, geographic area, breed, size, and more.
The next installment of this series will address adopting from a reputable breeder.