Don't Get Duped By a Pet Rescue

Posted by Allie Layos

If you love animals you probably want to help them, but not all pet rescues are created equal. 

In fact, some aren't really pet rescues at all. It is sad, but true, that many organizations claiming to be "rescues" are little more than individuals with a website trying to finance their own pet agenda ... agendas that are sometimes actually bad for pets!

So how do you sort out the legitimate pet rescues from the fakes? Check out these tips.

Look for a registered 501(c)(3) charity.

Check out the lists on or the BBB Wise Giving Alliance. However, be aware that just because an organization has received its 501(c)(3) status doesn't guarantee that it is reputable, but it's a good place to start.

Consider whether other credible people support the rescue.

Does the rescue have a positive reputation in the community? Do veterinarians, pet owners, and other animal shelters support it? Does it have a board of directors and a strong group of volunteers?

If so, there's a good chance that it is doing quality work.


Pay close attention to the rescue's transparency ... or lack thereof.

If a rescue isn't willing to answer your questions about how they operate, the number of animals and foster homes they have, how many pets they adopt annually, or their budget and their policies, there is probably a reason; and the reason is probably that they are not legitimate.

Particularly beware of any rescue that is not willing to speak over the phone.

Make sure the rescue is actively trying to find homes for its pets.

If the rescue isn't regularly attending or offering adoption events, or takes too long to respond to adoption inquiries, there is a good chance that it's run by an individual who doesn't really want to adopt the pets, and is simply looking for donations to support their own pet habit.

Look for rescues that ask you questions.

While it can be frustrating to get interrogated about your pet ownership ability, the fact that rescue workers are asking you questions means that they actually care about where their pets end up.

This is a good sign.

Shelter Dog

The rescue's pets look well cared for.

Obviously rescued animals won't always be in the best of health, but there are still many ways to gauge the quality of care the animals are receiving.

Is the facility clean and the animals well fed? Are they reasonably healthy? If not, are their problems being treated? Is the rescue complying with local shelter laws about the number of animals to a residence or is the facility overcrowded?

You can't gauge any of these things from a rescue you've only seen online.

The rescue staff acts professionally.

Professionals don't barrage you with tales of woe. If rescue workers are constantly using a string of personal tragedies to beg for money, there is a good chance they are not a rescue you want to get involved with.

Pet rescue is an important calling, and true rescues do need outside support. Use these tips and your best judgement to find reputable rescues that are doing excellent work. They do still exist!

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Don't Get Duped By a Pet Rescue