We encourage all adopters to look at both shelters and rescues when searching for a pet. We feel that the adopting from one or the other is a personal choice as there are some distinct differences between shelters and rescues.
Animal shelters are usually funded and run by your local government. They have facilities that take in stray and unwanted animals from pretty much anyone within their service area. They also have a pretty straightforward, simple adoption process. You go to the facility, see all the pets, choose the one you want, pay a small fee, and take them home the same day.
Animal rescues often work much differently. Usually, a rescue is a non-profit group run strictly by unpaid volunteers who receive the majority of their funding through donations. They usually do not have any facilities, relying instead on a small network of fosters who bring the pets into their own homes until they are adopted. There is usually an application that begins the adoption process, followed by phone or in person interviews, reference checks, home visits, overnight trials, maybe applicant review by the rescue board, until finally an adopter is approved and can take possession of the pet. But why are rescues different?
1. Our number one goal is to try and make sure the pet does not go back into the shelter or rescue system. How do we do that? By working to make sure the pet is matched to the right family and vice versa. Not every household is suitable for every pet and not every pet is suited for any household. Especially for challenging breeds like Border Collies. Too often Border Collies are sent to shelters or rescues because a family did not fully understand the temperament and the needs of our BCs. Unlike a shelter, most rescues learn much more about the personality of a dog because it’s fostered in a home versus in a shelter and that assessment helps us make the best match between family and pet.
2. We are not about the numbers. Shelters have to adopt out animals to make room for new animals coming in. While most shelter adopters are good, well-meaning people, shelters do not have the time or the ability to do any more than maybe the most basic of background checks on any adopter. Rescues are able to vet each adopter to try and ensure that the adopter has a good history of taking care of their pets, has a regular vet they use, provide proper medications such as heartworm and flea treatment, and won’t neglect or even abuse the pet.
3. Our dogs are often better adjusted, both physically and mentally, before going to a new home. Most rescues ensure that all pets have all their vaccinations, are up to date on heartworm preventative, spayed or neutered, and have been socialized to people, often other dogs, and even sometimes cats and other pets or livestock. Our pets often get house, leash, and crate-trained before going to their new homes. Many fosters take the dogs to public places to get them used to car rides and social outings. While there is always an adjustment period when a pet goes to a new home, our pups are often able to adjust easier and our adopters know what to expect. Shelters don’t often have the luxury of training their pets before they get adopted, leaving these things to the new adopter.
Shelters play an integral part in the pet-saving process. And we work hand in hand with our shelter partners to reduce the number of unwanted pets in our communities. Each of us has a role, and we work to complement each other as much as possible. And while we realize our process can be cumbersome and tedious, we believe in our process. We don’t judge anyone if you choose to not go to a rescue to find your next forever family member. We (of course) would love to work with you, but even if you adopt from a shelter or take in a stray or just spay/ neuter your pet, you are still saving another pet from being put to sleep and that’s our ultimate end goal.