Things to Know Before Surrendering Your Pet to a Rescue Group

Due to the many animals that are surrendered to rescues (and supposed rescues), it was decided to put together this Public Service Announcement regarding the rules, laws and just basic advice for the public.

Laws for the State of Nevada regarding Animal Rescues (and generally other states as well)

  • Animal rescues HAVE to be incorporated by the state of Nevada to call themselves a rescue.... it's the law (ask to see their papers if you are suspicious that they are not a true rescue).
  • There MUST be a paper trail for every animal that comes in and goes out of an animal rescue. If they do not have you fill out any paperwork on your animal, DO NOT leave your animal with them. It is the law and proof they are an official rescue.
  • They can not legally adopt out any dog or cat over the age of 4 months unless it is spayed/neutered. If they offer you a dog or cat that is over 4 months of age and is not spayed/neutered (or arranged to get altered when they adopt it out), they are breaking the law and can get in trouble with the state if they officially are a rescue.
  • They are not required to have a facility, but if they are officially incorporated by the state of Nevada, the state has the right to come in and inspect the facility at any time, unannounced, if they have a facility. Another good reason to make sure the rescue is incorporated by the state.
  • They do not need to be a 501 (c3), but if they aren't one, they can not claim to be non-profit. They do HAVE to be incorporated by the state of Nevada to get 501 status (it's the law), so again if you are suspicious, ask to see those incorporation papers. 

Rules & Advice for Surrendering Animals

  • DON'T WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE - S@#% happens in the world and peoples lives. It's a fact of life. If you know you have to move (standard 30 days), contact rescues, shelters etc. & list ads early. As everyone knows, shelters, rescues etc. are overcrowded, you need to give them time to find a place and/or foster for your animal. There are not people just waiting around to take your animal. Believe me, I wish there were. 
  • Ask the rescue if they have a facility, if they say yes, they should automatically offer to let you see it. If they don't, ask but be a little leery since they didn't offer immediately (they could be thinking how long will it take to clean it up before you arrive). The facility should not be 100% clean, in other words, there should be a little droppings around (not a ton :) but enough to show an animal actually does live there. Ask the USDA (my best friend is one of the top inspectors for them). When they go to a kennel, stables etc, if the pens are immaculately clean, they know you were preparing for them. 1 or 2 piles of droppings show an animal does live there and you are probably not trying to cover something up. Be realistic. 
  • Fosters - Rescues rely heavily on fosters, especially those without facilities and/or overcrowded facilities. Ask how their foster system works, do they screen them, train them, just take experienced fosters etc. It's your animal going to this person, you should know a little about how this person is picked. Do they have a contract with the fosters. HIGHLY recommended. If they don't have a contract with that foster, the foster could just steal the animal and there is no real repercussions. Yes that does happen in the real world too. Especially with rarer or purebred animals. Not all rescues will let you meet the fosters, sometimes fosters prefer that, but it never hurts to ask if you can meet them.
  • Surrendering - Again I go back. If they have a facility they should offer for you to bring the animal to them. Our facility is outside Vegas, so in reality, gas prices are not cheap, so we do offer for one of our volunteers to meet up with the owner in town. BUT we do offer them to bring the animal out if they want. If they don't offer that, don't give them your animal. It's harder with non-facility rescues as some fosters don't want you showing up at their doorstep, so go back to the laws of Nevada, follow those rules and odds are you will be giving your animal up to what you wanted in the first place, a real rescue.

In closing (getting off my soap box :) ) Be realistic, use your common sense when dealing with the rescues & shelters and think ahead, these people work very hard to get animals placed, waiting until the last minute adds more stress on to them as well as you.

This PSA is just to help people that want to surrender animals to make the right choices so their animals don't end up in the wrong hands.

Special thanks to Desert Rescue Animal Sanctuary for this Public Service Announcement. (702)275-2125
Rescue, Rehabilitate, Re-home. Desert Rescue Animal Sanctuary provides a refuge for homeless, abandoned & abused animals. We also offer a forum for owners who need assistance in placing their pets, no questions asked. 

They Handle ALL Types of Animals:
Small Animals
We do not take venomous reptiles or amphibians
We also take in sick & temperament problem animals. Want to get listed on this site to get more coverage for your pet. Contact Lakota at (702) 275-2125 or



In conclusion, your animal needs you! Please rise to the challenges so that your family can remain intact, human and companion animal. 

Many people seem to decide to discard an animal in a fit of rage or frustration, robbing their companion animal of the thought and care which they require. Please make your final decision carefully, exhausting all reasonable steps. His or her life may very well depend on you!