There is no doubt that every year responsible rescue groups save the lives of many animals. If you are planning to utilize a rescue group by either adopting or surrendering a pet for placement, please use the following key questions to help you find a a reputable one:
- Are animals housed in a central facility or in foster homes?
You should be able to see how the animals are housed. It is important that the rescue follow standards that allow animals the Five Freedoms: http://www.animalsheltering.org/resources/rescue/rescuing_done_right/the-five-freedoms-chart.pdf
- How many animals do you take in and adopt every year? If there is a large difference between the number entering the organization and the number adopted, there may be a large number of animals that are in limbo.
Successful agencies understand determining capacity for care. It is tempting to try to accept every animal in need, understanding what you can do and do well is key http://www.maddiesfund.org/Maddies_Institute/Videos/Know_Your_Capacity_for_Humane_Care.html Sometimes “rescue” becomes a venue for animal hoarding. For more information about animal hoarding visit the Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium, Tufts University. http://www.tufts.edu/vet/hoarding/harc.htm
- Are all animals spayed or neutered before adoption?
This is one of the most important things that should be done before any adoption takes place to reduce the number of unwanted animals in this state.
- Are all veterinary records provided with each adoption?
Viable rescue groups accept animals with a plan in place for that animal which includes housing, nutrition, socialization and veterinary care. They also have a policy of accepting adopted animals if the adoption is unsuccessful.
- If rescue groups are transporting animals to remote adoption sites, or transferring to agencies out of state, do they follow transport best practices? http://www.humanefederation.org/TransferBestPractice.cfm
Additionally, we want to guide you pertaining to any nonprofit organizations that might ask for your donations. Some claim that they are a nonprofit (501(c)(3) and that you will be given a tax receipt for your donation. This is not always true and can be verified several ways. A favorite, Guidestar, has a search engine allowing you to verify nonprofit statuses and to even view IRS Form 990s which should have been filed by the group. http://www.guidestar.org/ In order to request a 501(c)(3) status from the IRS, the group must first register with the Alabama Secretary of State. The search engine for government records/business entity records is, http://www.sos.state.al.us/vb/inquiry/inquiry.aspx?area. Just know that anyone can call themselves a nonprofit but the donation is not tax deductible unless the organization is a registered 501(c)(3). If you review an organization’s 990s and see that a large percentage of funds are allocated to administration costs as opposed to the group’s actual mission, then that could be a red flag that they are not using their donations appropriately.
Finally, please note that the IRS website has information about all legitimate charities. http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Exempt-Organizations-Select-Check It’s always a good idea to check them out before you make a donation!