Recognizing a dog rescue group that is less than reputable is getting harder and harder, as the shear number of people involved in animal rescue continues to increase. It is important that everyone knows what warning signs to look for to identify a dog rescue group that both has the best interests of the dogs as a priority, and is also operating in a way that ensures their dogs are well cared for, and placed appropriately.
If you are considering adopting your next dog, or are considering a donation of time, money, or dog fostering, you are best off to ask good questions. As many questions as it takes. Thats because the dogs in rescue are counting on you to make sure they are safe.
Here are some questions to ask — and warning signs if the answers are not up to scratch — to ask about and watch for before you work with or donate to a dog rescue group. Of course every group is unique, and should be addressed in context, but these are good questions to help decide if the group is reputable and get an overall picture of the organization.
About Local Reputation
- Does the dog rescue group promote and network animals locally?
- Do other local dog rescue workers know who they are?
- Some dog rescue groups have chosen a mission that focuses their work on national or international dogs in need. However, if the rescue always gets animals from far away but their mission is local, you might want to ask a little more. Are they unable to get animals closer to home base for some reason?
About Dog Rescue Groups Best Practices
- If the rescue does not make adopters do an application and home-check, sign a contract, and or check on the adopter, foster, or rescue to whom they plan to send the dog, that is a big red flag. The dog rescue group should have a standard written application for potential adopters and fosters, as well as information on volunteering.
- Will the animal rescue group allow you to visit the dog where it is being fostered? An independent dog rescue group does not typically have a central facility. They will use dog foster homes. A rescue group that is not in fact a legit rescue group might tell you that you can visit, but when the time comes, they are not available and unwilling to allow you to visit. That could be a warning sign that the rescue is actually a broker or puppy mill operator.
- Does the rescue group make follow-up information and photos available of the dogs they have placed, after they are adopted? Follow-up photos should not just be taken just outside the shelter or when the animal first gets to rescue; but also while at the foster home until adopted, and then an update and photos with their new family should be posted.
- Independent dog rescue groups rely on donations, public events and earned revenue to deliver their mission. Does the dog rescue group you are considering hold adoption events and fundraisers?
- If the rescue does not screen pullers, transporters, fosters, and adopters, that’s a problem sign. They should not just adopt animals to anyone with money; if they are, that is called brokering. Brokers are interested only in the money, not the dogs welfare.
- This may seem obvious, but if you have been recommended to a dog rescue group by a friend or colleague, you may skip this check. Has the rescue group has been reported for complaints or cited for any violations?
- Be wary if the rescue starts attacking people asking them normal rescue questions and or starts bashing other rescuers in an effort to try to divert attention away from them and answering the questions you asked them.
About Financial Concerns
Of course most dog rescue groups are registered charities, and exist on the donations of their supporters. Giving money to dog rescue groups that don’t have their organization running on sound principles just takes the money away from the “good” dog rescue groups and the animals that can truly be helped by it.
- Reputable dog rescue groups will share their veterinarian’s contact information, or if you are wanting to donate financially, to pay the vet directly. Does the group you are considering share the vet info?
- Does the rescue group refuse to answer normal dog rescue questions concerning finances and funding, or how they use the adoption fees? Remember, if they are a 501 c 3 in the United States, or a charitable corporation in Canada, then they have to share certain information with you or you can report them to the IRS, state, CRA or province, as the case may be.
- Are donations being spent on keeping all dogs with the rescue group in good health? If a rescue is not getting an animal needed vet care, do not use them.
- Legit rescues do fundraising activities and get donations and do not usually making complaints about how broke they are, what bills they have, and never suggest that they have racked up personal bills and wants help paying them. If they are really always that broke, then the dog rescue group may be over-extending themselves, or fallen into a hoarding mentality rather than a rescue mentality. The animals may not be getting the proper care in their foster home and / or by their vet.
- Does the rescue report how many animals they have and adopt out? They are obliged to report in public forums like on their website and or Facebook page.
About Dog Rescue Groups and Good Judgement
Believe it or not, when a potential adopter is enamoured of a dog they want, or new dog rescue worker is in the first blush of ambition, sometimes the most basic things get overlooked. Your good judgement, or that of a trusted friend, will help you ensure your good intentions match the dog rescue groups good deeds too. Things to tune your intuition towards include:
- Did you catch them changing their stories, or perhaps passing an outright lie?
- Have they posted fake reviews about themselves? In this age of digital everything, its easy enough to do!
- Are they not allowing you to adopt or apply to adopt or foster from them based on vague, arbitrary or changeable reasons?
- Do they mainly or only rescue animals with high pledges?
- Are they are rescuing large numbers of animals on a regular basis? While a sophisticated, mature dog rescue organization may have a higher volume of dogs being taken in, this warning sign is important to consider when the rescue group is sending the dogs far away, and to the same rescues on a regular basis. Where are they all going? Do they post follow-up photos of all of them in the new homes? Legit rescues know that it takes time to adopt animals out to qualified homes, sometimes months or even years.
- Is the group affiliated with any known animal abusers or rescue scammers? The dog rescue community is a pretty tight one, so asking around will get you some perspective.
No matter what dog rescue group you are considering for your support, the most important thing you can do is ask good questions, in a respectful and non-confrontational manner. Don’t just pay your pledges or make donations without any background information. Verify that the animal is truly rescued and safe with public information and photos. One way to avoid this worry is to rescue and donate locally or more locally, say within your own province or state. By rescuing locally you can visit the volunteers of the rescue group and get to know the people operating it. You can also check on the some of the animals yourself if you have any doubts.
When you do find dog rescue groups you respect, start donating money or supplies to them to help them to care for and to keep saving more animals. Remember, the animals are counting on us to keep them safe. There are plenty of legit, reputable and solid dog rescue groups that are more than happy to provide you with all the information and would love your support!
Got a good question to add to the list? Please post in the comments below!