Rescue Love

Animal Shelters vs Animal Rescue—What’s the Difference?

lost and homeless jack russell dog abandoned at rail train track on a bridge, with cardboard hanging , waiting to be adopted
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Before we can delve into the difference between shelters and rescue groups, lets first take a look at the similarities. Both shelters and rescue groups will take in unwanted dogs or those that have no homes, then try to find them good homes.

Now for the difference!

Both shelters and rescue groups need funds to run. For shelters, they get their funding to run their operations from the local government. Shelters will try to find a good home for a dog. The shelter keeps the dogs in inhouse kennels until they find someone willing to adopt them.

On the other hand, dog rescue groups get funding from donations from willing individuals. The workers at the rescue groups are often volunteers. Rescue groups will put every dog in their possession to a foster home since they do not have kennels at their sites.

There is a third term, and one that elicits negative emotions in dog lovers—dog pounds. Often these are a part of the area’s animal control office and remove strays and unwanted dogs from the location.

The shelter is also a part of the locale’s animal control office. However, it doesn’t have the negative association that dog pounds have.

Animal shelters

There are different situations that result in dogs in shelters. If a dog owner is no longer able to keep their pet, they have the option of taking it to the animal shelter. Also, shelters will take in dogs taken from the streets that have no owners.

Even with funding from local governments, shelters will often not have enough funds to take care of the animals. After all the shelters are always full of not just dogs but other types of animals as well.

Sadly, shelters will euthanize animals that cannot find homes.

Some advantages of animal shelters

  • The shelter has facilities for housing the animals. Any willing person who wants to adopt a dog can easily see the dogs.
  • If a dog comes in and has some health conditions especially minor ones, the shelter will treat these.
  • Some shelters have a playroom where you can interact with the dogs allowing you to get acquainted. 
  • Compared to animal rescues, it is much easier and quicker to adopt an animal from a shelter. Note that it depends on the shelter though.

Disadvantages of animal shelters

  • Some, if not most of the dogs in the animal shelter do not have a history which makes it harder to know what type of dog you took home.
  • Often shelters will process an adoption quickly without really taking the time to understand the needs of both the dog and the owner. Sometimes the dog and owner may not match.
  • Private shelters may ask for a minimal fee before taking the dog home.
  • Many shelters confine dogs all day, keeping them close to other animals which may cause them to turn aggressive. This may, in turn, cause a willing person to pass on a good dog by getting the wrong impression on the dog’s temperament.

Animal Rescue

The animal rescue works by placing the dog in a foster home where it will receive attention and care before the rescue can find a more permanent home.

Some animal rescues focus on one or two breeds. Being breed-specific is a good thing as both the rescue and the foster home is conversant with the behavior, temperament and health conditions of the breed.

It also means that the family taking in the dog is passionate about the breed which goes a long way towards the dog’s rehabilitation.

Before adopting and bringing home your next furball, take time to learn the difference between mature dogs and puppies to best take care of their needs.

Some advantages of animal rescues

  • As rescues place the dog in a home environment, it is less stressed and is more likely to accept people. This makes the adoption process easier.
  • Since you will have already visited the foster home and interacted with the dog on multiple occasions, the transition to adopting the pooch will be much easier.
  • Rescues will spay, neuter and administer all the required vaccinations. In case the dog still hasn’t gone to the vet, the rescue will give you a list of all the things that pertain to your dog that you need to do.
  • You don’t have to worry about the dog’s history when adopting it from a foster home. The caregivers will already have interacted with the dog and can tell you about its behavior and temperament.

Disadvantages of animal rescues

  • It takes a lot longer compared to animal shelters to decide on whether you and the dog are a good fit. This can be a huge drawback for someone who is busy and lacks the time for too many visits.
  • There is more paperwork and the fees can be higher than adopting the dog from a shelter.
  • Sometimes the foster family may require you to cater to the vet costs when you first show interest in the dog.
  • Often the foster is a volunteer which means that they will be working. This also means scheduling meetings around the volunteer’s work hours which can be a bit challenging for some people.
  • Even while the whole adoption process is complete, some volunteers may need to visit you for the coming months to ensure the dog’s well being. Some people may not like this.

Adopting from a shelter or a rescue—which one to choose? 

I would like to tell you to pick one or the other. However, it’s not that simple. While it is possible to find a good mixed, hybrid or designer dog from a shelter or a rescue, the one thing that anyone willing to adopt an animal needs to understand is the adoption process.

Granted shelters have a less stringent process for adoptions, but it does depend on the shelter.

Some shelters or rescue groups have a long and painstaking process of adoption which can cause many to give up. However, keep in mind that if the shelter or rescue is making a lot of effort to find the perfect home for their animals then this shows that they care about the well being of the pooch.

Stick in there!

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