Adopting from Rescue Groups

Adopting a dog or cat from a rescue group is an awesome way to bring home a new pet. However, some people struggle with the adoption procedures of rescue groups. I’ve heard people complain about everything from the applications to the request for veterinarian references. What people don’t understand is that rescue groups feel personally responsible for the animals in their care. Rescue groups become attached to their adoptable animals, especially ones that have been with the group for a long time.

rescue groups

Rescue groups usually have 20 to 40 animals in their care. Socialization is important so volunteers spend lots of time with the animals. Image credit: G Gamble

Adopting from Rescue Groups

Animal rescue is hard work. Each day is usually a new challenge. Many people look at rescue groups as a dumping ground for animals they no longer want. Rescue groups stretch their resources as far as they can to save as many animals as possible because they don’t want to turn an animal away. What many people don’t understand is that a rescue group will help someone keep their pet if the owner truly wants to keep it. Rescue groups don’t want more animals. They want to place the animals they have into forever homes.

rescue groups

Having a facility helps when there aren’t enough foster homes for all of the animals. However, a facility requires a lot of work to keep it up and volunteers are needed to take care of the animals. Image credit: G Gamble


Contrary to what some believe, rescue groups aren’t rescuing animals for the money. Rescue groups have a ton of expenses. Think about what you spend on your pet. You have vet bills, food, supplements, ER bills when there is an accident, and when something goes wrong, surgery. Take that times 15 or even 40 animals that are residing in facilities or in foster homes. That’s a lot of money. Month end treasury reports for rescue groups are usually in the red. I know because I was treasurer of the rescue group I’ve worked with for several years. I also did the tax return. This is why donations are extremely important to rescue groups. Without donations they can’t operate.

rescue groups

Rescue animals need love and attention more than anything. Something as simple as a box can provide lots of entertainment, especially for puppies. Image credit: G Gamble

Some rescue groups work through foster families, others have facilities where they keep most of their animals. The rescue group I’ve worked with for 13 years has a facility. This facility has to be kept up and repaired. There are utility bills, trash pickup bills, alarm monitoring bills, and cleaning supplies. Some supplies are donated but most have to be purchased.

rescue groups

Taking animals to adoption events is important. Once people see the dog or cat in person they are more likely to adopt it. Image credit: G Gamble


One complaint I hear again and again is about adoption applications. They are an enigma for some people. There are always questions on the applications that will tell the rescue group whether the applicant will be a good pet owner.  A wrong answer on one of these questions will trigger an automatic no on the application. Then people will want to know why they weren’t chosen.  The rescue group can’t answer that. Those questions are there for a reason just like the trick questions we have to answer in job interviews. It’s sort of a litmus test to find out the truth from potential adopters.

rescue groups

There is never a dull moment when you’re caring for a facility full of animals. These labs now have homes but I loved them with all my heart! Image credit: G Gamble

People look at pets differently. The rescue group I work with wants people to include the dog or cat in the family and view that pet as a family member. The pet should be kept indoors and interact with the family as much as possible. The pet also should have regular medical care and be kept on heart worm prevention. Most good pet owners don’t have a problem with these requirements because they are a given, but some people don’t want to be told how they should care for their pet.

rescue groups

Volunteers get attached to rescued animals while working with them on a regular basis. This is why it is so important to find the right home for each animal. Image credit: YD


Animals are seen in different ways by different people. Those like me view their pets as their kids or at least part of the family. Others still view them as dogs but still take good care of them keeping them inside and interacting with them regularly. My dogs and cat are indoors, sleep in beds, go outside with supervision, and have the run of the house. Now I’m different because my dogs are older. This makes a big difference compared to bringing baby animals into the home. That’s why many rescue groups recommend crate training until the dog or cat is mature enough to be trusted to have the run of the house unsupervised.

Other people leave their animals outside most of the time if not all of the time. These people believe that a dog house is sufficient to keep their pet warm or cool. They might interact with their animal now and then but since it is outside most interaction takes place only in the summer.  This isn’t a good life for a pet. Rescue groups will ask you why you want a pet in the first place if the pet is going to live outside 24/7.

rescue groups

Dogs in a shelter environment need to get out of their kennels and play. I always enjoyed watching the dogs wrestle and play together in the play room. Image credit: G Gamble


The bottom line is that rescue groups make potential adopters jump through hoops to be sure they will give a permanent home to the animal. Many animals get adopted then dropped off at the local shelter, then adopted again and dropped off at a shelter again. This traumatizes animals. Much like foster children that are tossed ‘pillar to post’ this instability creates emotional insecurity and leads to depression. One of my dogs experienced this trauma. After she had lived at our house for several months and was given a lot of love and attention, she finally started showing some confidence. People should not complain about rescue groups’ requirements to adopt an animal. The rescue groups are doing what is best for the animal and that is the most important thing.


  1. I am such a huge, huge dog lover. I could seriously go in and adopt like five of them and I think my husband would be a little upset…haha These are such great tips and everyone needs to educate themselves before they go adopting these little loves!

  2. I cannot wait until I’m in the position to adopt a dog and a cat. Once I’m out of grad school, it’s on! Those furry friends deserve as much love as those hanging out in pet stores.

  3. We are not dog people but we have two cats that we have adopted from the rescue. It is the only way we will ever adopt animals – cats or dogs! I am happy you are spreading this great information.

  4. My cats have either been strays who showed up and stayed, or kittens I’ve take through friends or family. I’d never buy a pet from a breeder, I’d only get one through a rescue, so it was interesting to know more about how they work. That’s for an interesting and informative post!

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