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The whos, hows, whats, whens, and wheres of rescue: part 1

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One of the most common requests a person with friends who are involved in rescue will see coming across their news feed on almost every social media site is a plea for help for dog, cat, puppy, or kitten. The plea may be for a rescue organization to save a pet in danger, or it may be from a rescue organization seeking community support in the way of funds, foster homes, or adoptive homes.

The request is simple: help rescue this pet.

What is rescue and how does a pet get "rescued".

The rescue process usually goes something like this:

1. A rescue organization becomes aware of a need of a pet that needs rescue. Sometimes they take in pets directly from owners who can no longer keep them or community members who find them as stray, but most of the time the organization will become aware of these dogs, cats, kittens, and puppies through what's called a "PTS" or "Put To Sleep" listing - a list of animals that for various reasons has been scheduled for euthanasia at a shelter that kills for space.

2. The rescue evaluates their financial resources. Some of the pets have already been tested and had their spay/neuter surgeries and vaccines. Some are sick or injured and may need extensive vet care. Others will have their vaccines, testing, and spay/neuter surgery covered by a "pull" fee charged by the shelter to cover these costs. The rescue evaluates whether it has the financial resources to pay for these vet expenses.

3. The rescue then has to find a place for the pet to stay until it is adopted. Puppies and kittens may be too young to immediately be adopted. A mother cat or dog may not be eligible for her spay surgery until after she has stopped nursing. Sick and injured animals may need a place to get well. Others may need retraining for behavioral reasons, or may need their temperament more fully evaluated. Most pets from a shelter environment will need to be quarantined for a brief period of time to make sure they aren't carrying any diseases brought from their previous homes or from the shelter. This is where the foster home comes in. A foster home is a private home where someone who cares about animals will provide a temporary place for the animal to stay. Usually the rescue organization covers the costs of food and vet care.

4. The rescue takes care of any veterinary needs that the rescued pet may have. The pet must be spayed or neutered before it can be adopted and be dewormed. Dogs and puppies are tested for tested for heartworms; cats and kittens they are tested for Feline Leukemia and FIV. The goal is to make sure that the pet is healthy when it goes to its new home, and to ensure that medical conditions that need treatment are identified. In some cases, a pet may have an incurable but treatable disease; the goal in those cases is to make sure the pet is stabilized and that his or her new family is fully informed of the disease so that there are no surprises.

Part 2 of this article will address the adoption process itself: how does a pet go from rescue to a permanent home.

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