Breaking It Down – Animal Rescue

By Diane Robertson

Following is a breakdown of the major steps involved in animal rescue.  Once an animal is rescued, there is another whole set of functions relating to fostering and getting those animals adopted.  So here we go….

  1. Identify High-Kill shelters in your area.  Talk to them, read their website and start a conversation with them about your organization and how you can help.
  2. Get on the approved rescue group list / alert list.  Most shelters evaluate rescue groups before placing them on their approved rescue group list.  Once approved, they may have an alert that goes out to their approved rescue groups regularly.  This alert often lists each of the animals nearing their PTS (Put to Sleep) date, a picture of the animal and a description.  If your shelter does not offer an email alert, find out more about their PTS schedule and how you can access records of animals in need of rescue (website, etc.).
  3. Based on the alerts and schedules of your shelters, routinely identify animals you would like to evaluate and get them evaluated (by yourself or use a trusted behavorist or shelter worker).  Remember that not every animal can be saved and that not every animal can be saved by you or your organization.   Some rescue  organizations specialize in certain breeds or categories of animals (horses, farm animals, pigs, dogs, pit bulls, cats, FeLV positive cats, senior dogs or cats, rats, birds, etc.).  Stay within your mission and budget when deciding on which animals to help.
  4. Obtain a commitment from foster parents or your shelter supervisor for the animals you will help.  Be sure to notify the county shelter/other organization which animals you will rescue and when you will arrive to pick up the animals.  Be sure you arrive on time, every time! If you will be late, be sure to call and let them know your new arrival time.
  5. Arrange for transportation.  This includes crates, cages, water bowls, etc and vehicles to transport the animals.  Be sure you have all the supplies you need for the rescue and that those animals and supplies will fit in the rescue vehicles.  If you have committed to a certain set of animals and you cannot take one or more of the animals due to your poor planning, the animal may be killed with no further rescue options.  For very long trips, be sure you plan for food, water, potty breaks and exercise breaks.
  6. Process the animals into your organization.  This includes data entry, microchipping, initial veterinary visit and possibly other activities.
  7. Assign animals to a foster parent or to your intake area .  Have the animals picked up/moved to the intake area.
  8. Medical Hold.  There is usually a 1-4 week waiting period where the animal is kept in quarantine to ensure that it is healthy or otherwise vetted, groomed, trained and allowed to relax into their new environment.  This waiting period ensures that when animals are moved to the “Available for Adoption” list, that they are in good physical shape, spayed or neutered if needed and ready for a new home.
  9. Place the animals on your Available for Adoption list /change the database to indicate their adoptable status.  Adoption processes can be very complex to simple, depending on your policies and procedures and the type of animals you are rescuing.

More to follow on policies and procedures for Rescue, Intake, Shelter and Adoption areas of a rescue organization.

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The Solution Starts with You

By Diane Robertson

It is much too easy with our busy lives to dismiss the idea that “we” could help with the rescue of homeless animals.  Please read on to understand that there are many ways that everyone can and should help avoid the problem of homeless animals.

First, make sure you spay or neuter your dogs and cats.  Unless you are a breeder, there is no reason not to do this. There are low-cost options available almost everywhere.

Second, keep your companions happy and healthy and forever.  Commit yourself to keeping your animal regardless of the challenges you may face.  There are individuals and groups that can help.  If you are challenged by lack of money to feed your animals, a behavior problem, a move or another challenge you need to understand that there is help available.  Ask around, call the animal shelter, your local rescue groups and others.  Do not abandon your animal at the local pound!  Dropping your dog or cat off at the local shelter is cruel.  Your companion does not understand what is happening, they can become very stressed, can become sick and worse yet, may be immediately killed if they are old or perceived to be unadoptable.  You owe it to your dogs and cats to do everything possible to keep them with you forever.

What will happen to your animals if you suddenly pass away?  If you do not make plans for them now, there is a good chance that they will be taken to the local animal shelter when you die.  If you have a will or trust be sure to keep it updated with plans for your companion animals. If you don’t have a will, make one.  Everyone should have a will, even young people.  Legal Zoom ( is a good, low-cost source of legal documents that you can use to protect your family and companions.  If you are a senior citizen, check with your county Human Services department.  Many counties offer low-cost or free legal assistance to senior citizens.  If you have the money, contact an attorney who is familiar with setting up wills and trusts for animals.

Start a “Rainy Day” fund for your pets.  Just like you budget for car maintenance and clothing and groceries, you also need to budget for the cost of food and medical care for your animals.  If you start a separate account for your pets and make regular deposits, a visit to the vet or Emergency vet will not be a problem.  Planning ahead is the key to being successful both in life and love (or so I’m told).

In my next blog I will talk about the many ways you can help with the physical rescue and rehoming of companion animals.  There are many easy ways that everyone can help and it does not have to involve your money or opening your home to new animals.

How to Socialize Shy Kittens

Socializing shy kittens

Tails from the Street

One of the most important things you can do for foster kittens is make sure they get the best start in life possible. That means working hard to ensure they are friendly, comfortable with people and, as much as possible, don’t have any behavior issues.  Sometimes this can be tricky, at a certain point in their lives kittens develop a desire to chew on fingers and toes, as well as to play with said digits. While it might be tempting to let them chew on you, you must remember that they will one day grow into adult cats. It is a lot less fun when an adult cat is chewing on your hands with adult teeth. As a foster parent one of the largest responsibilities you have is to create as “perfect” a kitten as possible. The last thing anyone wants is for the kitten to be returned because of…

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O Wilson, How Art Thou?

O Wilson, How Art Thou?.

Soldier & Kitty

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Companion Animals 101

By Diane Robertson

I want to start my blog by saying that I was horrified to learn that up to 90% of the animals taken to animal shelters are killed.  Some shelters are the opposite, with “live release” numbers around 90% with about a 10% kill rate.  For those awesome shelters, we can safely assume the 10% were truly euthanized and not just killed.

There is a big difference between the words killed and euthanized.  Many people use the word euthanized because it sounds better than saying killed.  I would like to suggest that people use the correct terminology.  Pets are euthanized when they are suffering, when they have reached the end of the lives, when they are racked with cancer and other valid reasons.  It is an act of compassion.  Some animal shelters simply kill animals that have been surrendered to them or that have been caught as strays.  Really!  For example, there are many shelters that do not allow adoptions of pit bulls.  What this means is the animal comes in the front door and immediately goes out the back door in a body bag.  Most shelters have a 10-14 holding period after which the animal will be killed.  This includes perfectly healthy puppies, pure breed dogs and cats, and everything in between.

No kidding folks.  Check out the ASPCA, the No-Kill Nation and your local shelters.  They all tell the same story.  Also, your local shelter may also publicize their intake and adoption rates on their website or Facebook page.  Shelters that kill healthy animals often believe they are doing the right thing for the community.  They believe that there are not enough homes for all the animals and so this is work that must be done to control the dog and cat population.  I reject these arguments and so do millions of other people in this country.

How can you help?

  1. Get your dogs and cats fixed (spayed or neutered).  Most areas have low-cost and no-cost programs.  If you still cannot afford any small fee being charged, ask for help.  There are lots of folks out there that can afford $35 to help potentially save dozens of lives that just one unaltered dog or cat can produce.
  2. Adopt your next cat or dog from a rescue group or shelter.  Never buy a cat or dog on the Internet or from a breeder you do not know very well.  Many rescue groups have available animals at your local Petsmart store, online at, other websites and at local shelters.
  3. Help educate people on the importance of spaying and neutering their pets and learn about the TNR (trap, neuter and return) movement.  “Community” cats are becoming more common these days.  A community cat or colony of cats refers to unowned cats that live in the community but the entire community helps by leaving food and water out for the animals and providing some type of shelter for the animals.

I encourage everyone to read more about animal shelters, visit your local shelters, volunteer when possible, donate when possible and consider fostering a dog or cat until it can be adopted.


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