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Rescue group red flags

Before you adopt a pet, check out the rescue group to make sure they are for real.
Before you adopt a pet, check out the rescue group to make sure they are for real.
Dave Kaup/Getty Images

There has been a lot of talk recently about disreputable rescue groups, or people claiming to run a rescue when they are really just hoarders. There is more to a rescue than just calling yourself one. It does not matter whether it is a dog, cat, fish, pot bellied pig, snake, turtle, bird or ferret rescue. They should all have some guidelines they follow as a rescue.

Here are four important questions you should ask any rescue group before you adopt from them:

Do they have a veterinarian they use? Serious rescue people have a trusted veterinarian they deal with on a regular basis. Lots of times, animals arrive in awful condition and need medical care. Possibly, the biggest expense for any rescue is veterinary care. Most respectable rescues have one vet who either gives them a discount or gives them time to pay their bills. If they do not have a veterinarian – it is a red flag!

Does the group seek out animals? Rescue groups are generally overwhelmed with animals. They do not go online searching for animals to rescue. If you post an ad and a “rescue group” calls to take your animal – Ding! Ding! – another red flag. It is more likely, this is a person who takes inexpensive animals and resells them. Or, even worse, they could be an animal hoarder.

Is there an adoption application? If you have ever adopted an animal from a local shelter like the Maryland SPCA, you know that you have to fill out paperwork. There is an adoption application, and some organizations have an adoption contract too. Almost all rescue groups have applications. If they do not, they should. If you call about a rescue and the person just tells you to come on over and pick up the animal – big, red flag.

Do they have a website, Petfinder or Facebook page? Even very small rescues that only keep a handful of animals have some kind of web presence. It is rare to find a rescue with no web page at all. No website is probably a red flag.

If an organization or rescue has one red flag, they are suspicious. If they have more than one, they are probably not a real rescue. Maybe they are just a good Samaritan trying to help out some stray animals. If that is the case, they may not have any history on the animal you want to adopt. You should try to find out everything beforehand, especially any medical problems. Sanctuaries take animals and keep them for life. They are a completely separate issue from rescues.

If you are adopting, always ask a lot of questions. If you have trouble remember things, write them down. Be sure you know what you are getting into before you take the animal home.


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