Last week’s Pet Column told the story of a group of dogs who needed to be removed from the property where they were living. There were over thirty dogs, and many of them were unsocialized and had health issues. The positive outcome for these dogs was made possible by cooperation between shelters and rescues across the state. In writing that, we wondered about the terms “shelter” and “rescue”. Aren’t they the same thing? 

 The words rescue, shelter, humane society, sanctuary, and animal care center are all commonly used in the names of both shelters and rescues. Maybe an easy way to explain: all shelters are rescues, but not all rescues are shelters. Kind of like, all thumbs are fingers but not all fingers are thumbs. 

Shelters are typically funded by a government entity, usually a county or a city. Often they also need donations and fundraising for their work. Employees are city/county employees, and they also have volunteers to help out. Shelters are responsible for stray animal recovery, and abuse/neglect investigations, plus they rehome unwanted or homeless pets. Most of these city or county shelters do not have on-site veterinary care, but partner with local private vet clinics for spay/neuter, vaccines, and other medical needs. Shelters are licensed and inspected by the state.

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A rescue is not as easy to define. Most rescues are nonprofits that rely on donations and fundraising to carry out their mission. Some rescues are staffed only by volunteers, while others have paid staff. Some are breed specific. Some only take one species of animal. Some have onsite vet clinics. Some have both shelter facilities and foster homes. Some only have foster homes. Some do not take in pets but act as a matchmaking service for homeless pets and potential adopters. Some have resources to train and rehabilitate animals. Some rescues are called upon to investigate and respond to abuse, hoarding, or neglect cases. Not all rescues are licensed and inspected. It’s an important differentiation to consider when donating to or adopting from an organization. 

IMG 5997 20220907 140007Should you adopt from an animal shelter or a rescue? The top benefit of adopting an animal is that you’re saving the animal. You’re giving a pet a second chance at life and not supporting breeders. Adoption fees vary but know the fees are not intended to be a profit for the organization. They are designed to recover costs invested in that pet- from spaying/neutering to vaccinations to behavior evaluation and training. 

In our area, we have an entire range of rescues and shelters. We at Second Chance are a shelter and rescue nonprofit with a license and inspections. We also have on-site vet care for our animals and the community. We work with both paid staff and volunteers and are often asked to respond to stray, abused, and neglected animals in our tri-county service area.

The one common thread with all is we all work for animals. Whether it’s a municipal shelter, a breed rescue, or a full-service animal resource center, the goal is to care for and find homes for homeless animals.

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My name is Traveler. That is because I used to be a stray. Then a nice young lady became my friend and realized that I am really a friendly guy who just needed a chance. She brought me to the nice people at Second Chance where I’m waiting for my new family to come to meet me. I’m young, very handsome, friendly, and I get along with most other cats.