Starting an Animal Rescue Group
10 Steps to Success
Starting an animal rescue group takes a lot of hard work and dedication. It also takes knowledge, a plan, and a network of good people around you.
The following 10-step plan is designed to help the beginner with forming an animal rescue group, in particular a rescue group focusing on dogs. However, the guidelines can easily be adjusted no matter what type of animal you will be rescuing.
1. Decide what type of animals you will take in.
Perhaps you have already decided you will be rescuing dogs. What kind of dogs will you take in? What kind of dogs will you NOT take in? You must make this clear from the beginning and stick to your guidelines.
2. Determine how much money you will need to start.
There are numerous things you will need to begin. You need to have a place for the animals. If you don't have one, you will have to create one. You will also need:
*Collars and Leashes
*Pull Fee Money
*Vet Money (Average out $100 per dog).
3. Determine how you will fund your group.
Your group will require ongoing funding. How will you fund it? Sponsorships are great ideas, as are donations from stores and people. I also recommend planning on monthly fundraisers. One emergency trip to the vet and all your funds could be wiped out. It is imperative to continue bringing revenue in. Bake Sales, Adoption Events, and Magazine Fundraisers have all been known to work well.
4. Will you need to file for Non-Profit status?
I recommend calling your local Bar Association, and asking for an attorney referral that can help you with this process. You may, or may not, want to pursue this, but only a local attorney can advise you properly on this. I feel becoming non-profit has huge advantages, and well worth the initial costs. Be sure to ask for an attorney that specializes in this, or has extensive experience in it. A divorce attorney will not be much help in this area.
5. How will you advertise your animals?
There are great websites that offer web listings for animal rescue groups. The Internet has become our number one source for adoptions. Local newspapers are also a great way to get the word out, and will often feature one or two of your adoptable pets at no charge. Adoption events are great exposure, and can also serve as a fundraiser as well. Once you become established, word of mouth is a great resource. Be sure to treat everyone who adopts from you with respect. They may be a source of future referrals, or even financial help in the future.
6. Write your Adoption Application.
It is a great idea to have potential adopters fill out an application. This way you can be sure to make a good match for them regarding a new pet. It is also a way to "weed out" those who should not be adopting. The idea is to find the pet a forever home, and avoid having it returned to you, or worse yet, the county pound.
7. Write your Adoption Contract.
Determine what it is you will require from adopters, and what you will offer them. What is your "return" policy? Will you refund adoption fee? Do you require a fenced in yard? An indoor home? Make all of this abundantly clear on your contract. You want to protect yourself, as well as the dog! An attorney may be a good source of helping your draw up a contract.
8. Find a vet.
This is crucial! Find a vet that will work with you, and hopefully offer you discounts for multiple animals. Spaying and neutering should be done, but can be costly. Interview a few vets, and then choose you like best. All rescued animals should have a checkup, given shots, and be spayed/neutered.
9. Find Volunteers.
This is also crucial to a successful rescue group. If you will be rescuing more than a couple dogs at a time, you will need help. Determine what you will need, and ask for it! Will you need foster homes? Dog walkers?
10. Name your group!
Finally, the fun part! Come up with a name for your organization. Once you have this, you can order promotional materials, such as business cards, fliers, brochures, etc.. You may also want to design a logo, and order signs as well.