Animal Rescue Organizations: Where Hearts Keep on Giving

Royal Animal Refuge

Some have been abused. They may have lived in real homes until their families lost interest in them, and they were discarded like old toys. The luckier ones lived with people who loved them but were no longer able to take care of them. They came from humane societies or crowded animal shelters, or were found on the street. All of them are waiting at a pet rescue for a new home, where they can love and be loved in return.Starting over isn’t easy, but in the success stories at animal rescue organization websites, you can read how dogs, cats, guinea pigs, horses, and other animals adapted to their new homes and families. And when we change animals’ lives by giving them a second chance, they change our lives too.

What animal rescue organizations do

According to The Animal Rescue Site, “Over 10 million animals are put to death every year in the US alone because they are unwanted, abandoned, or abused.” That’s a statistic that animal rescue organizations would like to change. Common goals listed at their websites:
  • To rescue homeless and abandoned animals
  • To provide veterinary treatment if needed
  • To find suitable homes for the animals they rescue
  • To promote responsible pet ownership
Animal rescue organizations typically rescue one type of animal. Dog rescue organizations are usually breed rescues – they may rescue just boxers or dachshunds or golden retrievers, for example. Some focus on small dogs or big dogs. Most cat rescue organizations take in all kinds of cats, although some rescue only breeds such as Siamese cats or Persian cats. In addition, there are horse rescues, rabbit rescues, bird rescues, reptile rescues, and rescues for other kinds of animals.

Differences between animal rescue organizations and animal shelters

While both animal rescue organizations and animal shelters help find animals new homes, their structures and procedures are different.


  • Animal shelters may be national organizations, which receive some government funding. Most animal rescue organizations are community organizations, which rely entirely on donations.
  • Most animal rescues are completely volunteer-run. Shelters also have volunteers, but they probably have paid staff as well.
  • Animal shelters often have puppies, kittens, and other young animals that are dropped off. Rescue organizations are not likely to have young animals.
  • Animal shelters have permanent facilities where the public can view the animals in one location. Some rescue organizations also have permanent facilities, but others have only foster homes, where volunteers take care of the animals until a “forever home” is found for them.
  • Animal shelters are better known than animal rescue organizations.


  • Most animal shelters help save different kinds of animals, but animal rescues usually take in one type of animal, often only one breed. Because of their breed focus, they know more about the characteristics and needs of the animals they rescue. Rescue organizations often take animals from shelters and use their specialized knowledge to place them.
  • While both types of organizations aim to find suitable homes for each animal, rescue organizations have a screening process to match people with animals. Applicants usually fill out an application form, and they may be interviewed before even seeing adoptable animals. Once a match is found, adopters may need to sign an adoption agreement.
  • Rescue organizations have a no-kill policy. Increasingly, so do many animal shelters, but due to overcrowding, millions of healthy animals are still killed every year.

How you can help

  • Volunteer at a pet rescue
  • Donate money, time, pet food, pet bedding, and whatever else your local rescue needs
  • Buy products (T-shirts, mugs, tote bags, and more) from their online stores or affiliates
  • Sponsor a pet (some pet rescue organizations provide this option)
  • Foster pets while they’re waiting for adoption
  • Send this article to other people who may be interested in adopting an animal from a pet rescue
The biggest way you can help, of course, is to adopt a pet. The rescue volunteers will thank you, and so will the animals you adopt.


Breed rescue organizations