Rescue or a Shelter? …And what is the difference?

Many people do not know the difference between a shelter and a rescue organization…or that there even is a difference. Hopefully this will answer some questions that people may have and give us a better understanding of the differences.

Shelters are usually government funded. This means that expenses incurred like vaccines, deworming, flea and heartworm preventions, general veterinary care, and spay/neuter are paid for at a low cost by the government. When an animal at a shelter becomes ill, a lot of times, the only outcome is euthanasia. This is to prevent the spread of disease in the shelter. It’s less costly to eliminate the problem than to treat it. The government simply does not allow the funding to treat all of the animals in need. The animals in shelters are also commonly euthanized for space, age, breed, and size. To be VERY clear, this is generally not a decision or outcome that the shelter workers are intending to come to, it is merely a matter of space and funds. Most shelters are open intake, which means that they take in every stray or owner surrender that is found or brought to them. Space runs out quickly, and while they typically do all they can to get them adopted, a lot of times it is just not possible.

Rescues, on the other hand, take on these expenses at full cost and the majority also do not euthanize when an animal becomes ill (PPAR never euthanizes for this, we always treat), nor do we or other rescues euthanize to make room when an animal’s time is up. PPAR makes a lifetime commitment to every animal we rescue. Rescues endure very high medical bills in a very short amount of time. This is why monetary donations are very important. We go to great lengths to medically treat all of our animals and we (PPAR) maintain a 100% no-kill status.

Peppermint Pig Thrift & Gift operates solely to help support Peppermint Pig Animal Rescue. 100% of the proceeds from our thrift store go directly towards the rescue and care of animals in need. Our Thrift store operates to bridge the gap between our low adoption fees and the cost of vetting and care we provide the animals we rescue.

Please continue to support us in the fight to prevent abuse, neglect and the euthanizing of healthy animals!

Rescue vs. Shelter

An animal rescue group or animal rescue organization is dedicated to pet rescue and adoption. These groups rescue otherwise euthanized pets from kill shelters, take unwanted, abandoned, abused, or stray pets and attempt to find suitable homes for them. Many rescue groups are created by and run by volunteers, who take the animals into their homes and care for them — including training, playing, handling medical issues, and solving behavior problems — until a suitable permanent home can be found.

Rescue groups exist for most pet types (reptile rescue, rabbit rescue or bird rescue), but are most common for dogs and cats. For animals with many breeds, rescue groups may specialize in specific breeds or groups of breeds. For example, there might be local Labrador Retriever rescue groups, hunting dog rescue groups, large-dog rescue groups, as well as general dog rescue groups. Peppermint Pig Animal Rescue is not breed/age/size specific. We do not discriminate and will do our best to help any dog in need (and when our resources allow, cats and other small animals).

Animal shelters often work closely with rescue groups, because shelters that have difficulty placing otherwise healthy and pet-worthy animals would usually rather have the animal placed in a home than euthanized; while shelters might run out of room, rescue groups can often find volunteers with space in their homes for temporary placement. Some organizations work with older animals whose age would likely cause them to be euthanized in county pounds/shelters.

Each year, approximately 3-4 million cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters due to overcrowding and a shortage of foster homes.

In the USA, there are three classifications for pet rescue:

  • A municipal shelter is a facility that houses stray and abandoned animals, as well as animals that people can no longer care for, on behalf of local governments

  • A no-kill shelter is a usually private organization whose policies include the specification that no healthy, pet-worthy animal be euthanized

  • Not-for-profit rescue organizations typically operate through a network of volunteer foster homes.These rescue organizations are also committed to a no-kill policy.

Peppermint Pig Animal Rescue is a “not-for-profit rescue organization”

Comparing Rescue Groups and Shelters

There are two major difference between shelters and rescue groups:

1. Shelters are usually run and funded by local governments. Rescue groups are funded mainly by donations and most of the staff are volunteers. While some shelters place animals in foster homes, many are housed on-site in kennels. Some rescue groups have facilities and others do not. Foster homes are heavily utilized in either case. Peppermint Pig Animal Rescue does not have a kennel facility.

2. Within the dog rescue community, there are breed-specific and all-breed rescues. As its name implies, breed-specific rescues save purebred dogs of a certain breed, for example, Akitas, Boxers, Dalmatians, Labrador Retrievers, etc. Almost every breed is supported by a network of national and international rescue organizations with the goal to save abandoned dogs of this breed. All-breed rescues are not limited to purebred dogs. Instead they save dogs of any breed. Many work with specific shelters to support their efforts.

Peppermint Pig Animal Rescue is an All-breed rescue, and we also rescue cats and other small animals when our resources allow.

Adopting Through a Rescue Group

Most rescue groups use similar adoption procedures, including completing an application, checking a veterinary reference, conducting a phone interview and a home visit. Rescue organizations are usually volunteer-run organizations and survive on donations and adoption fees. The adoption fees do not always cover the significant costs involved in rescue (Peppermint Pig Animal Rescue’s never do), which can include traveling to pick up an animal in need, providing veterinary care, vaccinations, food, spaying and neutering, training, and more. Please, see Our Adoption Process tab for more information on how we manage our adoptions.

Most animals in the care of rescue groups live with foster home volunteers as members of the family until an appropriate adopter is found. There are a number of different techniques that can be used to make the transition from life at a rescue’s foster home to an adoptive home easier on the animal. Generally, rescue groups provide adopters with basic information to aid in a successful transition.