An animal rescue group or animal rescue organization is dedicated to pet adoption. These groups take unwanted, abandoned, abused, or stray pets and attempt to find suitable homes for them.

Many rescue groups are created by and run by volunteers, who take the animals into their homes and care for them — including training, playing, handling medical issues, and solving behavior problems — until a suitable permanent home can be found.

Rescue groups exist for most pet types (reptile rescue, rabbit rescue or bird rescue), but are most common for dogs and cats.

For animals with many breeds, rescue groups may specialize in specific breeds or groups of breeds. For example, there might be local Labrador Retriever rescue groups, hunting dog rescue groups, large-dog rescue groups, as well as general dog rescue groups.

Animal shelters often work closely with rescue groups, because shelters that have difficulty placing otherwise healthy and pet-worthy animals would usually rather have the animal placed in a home than euthanized; while shelters might run out of room, rescue groups can often find volunteers with space in their homes for temporary placement.

In the USA, there are three classifications for pet rescue:

  1. A municipal shelter is a facility that houses stray and abandoned animals, as well as animals that people can no longer care for, on behalf of local governments 
  2. A no-kill shelter is a usually private organization whose policies include the specification that no healthy, pet-worthy animal be euthanized 
  3. Not-for-profit rescue organizations typically operate through a network of volunteer foster homes. These rescue organizations are also committed to a no-kill policy. 
When adopting a pet through an Animal Shelter, the pet is spayed, neutered, up to date on his shots, microchipped and most Animal Shelters provide a free vet check within a specific amount of time after adopting the pet.

Animal Rescue Groups usually provide the same services. Documents (very important) are given to the adopter before leaving the facility with the pet stating all facts about the pet.


There are two major difference between shelters and rescue groups. Shelters are usually run and funded by local governments.

Rescue groups are funded mainly by donations and most of the staff are volunteers. While some shelters place animals in foster homes, many are housed on-site in kennels. Some rescue groups have facilities and others do not. Foster homes are heavily utilized in either case.

Within the Animal Rescue community, there are breed-specific and all-breed rescues.

As its name implies, breed-specific rescues save purebred animals of a certain breed, for example, DOGS: Akitas, Boxers, Dalmatians, Labrador Retrievers, etc. CATS: Ragdolls, Siamese, Maine Coon, Persians, etc.

Almost every breed is supported by a network of national and international rescue organizations with the goal to save abandoned animals of this breed.

All-breed rescues are not limited to purebred pets. Instead they save animals of any breed. Many work with specific shelters to support their efforts.

Surprisingly enough, Animal Shelters do receive purebred cats and dogs.

If the animal is a stray, they usually state that the animal is a mixed breed...example: Poodle Terrier Mix, (who looks exactly like a Poodle) however, when the owner surrenders the animal, the Shelters know for sure that it is a true pure breed.

Adopting Through a RESCUE GROUP

Most rescue groups use similar adoption procedures, including completing an application, checking a veterinary reference, conducting a phone interview and a home visit. Rescue organizations are usually volunteer-run organizations and survive on donations and adoption fees.

The adoption fees do not always cover the significant costs involved in rescue, which can include traveling to pick up an animal in need, providing veterinary care, vaccinations, food, spaying and neutering, training, and more.

Most animals in the care of rescue groups live with foster home volunteers as members of the family until an appropriate adopter is found.

There are a number of different techniques that can be used to make the transition from life at a rescue's foster home to an adoptive home easier on the animal. Generally, rescue groups provide adopters with basic information to aid in a successful transition.

Dogs, cats, bunnies, ferrets, birds and hamsters can be adopted from the Humane Society, an Animal Shelter, SPCA, adopted from an Animal Rescue Group or rescued off the street, their contribution to the household they are in, is invaluable.