The Importance of Animal Rescue Organizations in Our Communities

Animal Rescue Organizations
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Animal rescue organizations offer a place of safety for animals with nowhere else to turn; veterinary care; spay/neuter services to help reduce population growth; and adoption opportunities. Their work is invaluable. Public shelters should be able to reduce or waive fees related to adopters and transfer from 501(c)(3) rescue organizations. Broader disclosure requirements are one way to achieve this.

Humane Care

Providing shelter and care for unwanted animals is a primary mission of rescue organizations such as the Humane Society of New York. These shelters provide animals with food and water; medical and behavioral care; veterinary services; relief from suffering; a safe environment; and social interaction with humans. Shelters are also responsible for assessing the health and behavior of animals, making appropriate euthanasia decisions, and ensuring shelter policy is aligned with community needs. Additionally, many shelters are on the cutting edge of the no-kill movement that encourages communities to make adoption the default option for all healthy and treatable pets.

Many state laws vest extraordinary powers in humane societies to investigate and prosecute animal cruelty crimes. Some states also designate current law enforcement officers as humane police officers, allowing them to explore and enforce animal cruelty laws for the local humane society. Other states use the “community policing approach,” in which an officer is designated to work jointly with the humane society and acts more or less as an extension of the organization.


When people adopt animals from shelters, they free up space so other dogs and cats can find a home, and it helps the shelter’s bottom line. Animal adoptions help fund food, medical care and spaying/neutering for shelter pets.

Many rescues rely on foster homes, where volunteers take in a puppy, kitten or cat to keep it until it finds its permanent home. This allows the pet to stay in a temporary environment that is more familiar than a shelter, making the transition more comfortable for the animal.

Animal rescues also work to raise awareness of animal cruelty, such as in laboratories and circuses, and they advocate for better treatment of farm animals and animals used in hunting and sports like bullfighting. They are a vital part of the fight against overpopulation, neglect and abuse of all animals, including pets.


Animal rescue organizations are committed to educating the public about responsible pet ownership, spaying/neutering and fostering. Their outreach efforts help people access their intrinsic values and foster a sense of stewardship of the natural world.

Many rescue organizations specialize in a particular category of animals, such as livestock, poultry or wildlife. Others focus on rescuing specific industries like racing, bullfighting and laboratory testing. No matter what type of animal they recover, all save share a dedication to ending cruelty.

Rescues are often volunteer-driven, which helps keep costs down for the organization. This allows for greater adoption rates and compassion towards the animals they rescue. Rescues also serve as a great educational resource for future veterinarians and veterinary students. Many students identify volunteering with a rescue as a unique opportunity to explore a different One Health sector and better understand the interconnectedness of humans, animals and the environment.

Community Outreach

Animal rescue organizations work to keep animals off the streets, where they can be starving for food and water or being hit by cars. By temporarily housing animals in shelters and rescuing those who are abandoned or suffering from cruelty, they give animals a safe environment to recover and find loving homes.

It’s easy to get jaded about shelters and rescue organizations when hearing of the number of animals that need rescued, but they impact our communities. They work to help pets and their people, which requires community participation.

Join this session to learn how community outreach can succeed for shelters and rescues. Developing sustainable programs that build engagement can positively impact animal outcomes and human and animal relationships. Plus, tracking data is important for gaining grant funds. Learn how to track intake, animal outcomes, foster numbers, supplies donated, and community services provided using Pawlytics.

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