Rescuing animals saves their lives. However, animal shelters are quite different. Some appear legit but are often hoarding or breeding fronts. Others have good intentions but offer inadequate care.
With that said, how would you know that you’re offering support to a legit rescue? Before adopting an animal, volunteering, or making monetary donations, it would help to learn how to identify a troubled animal rescue.
While some of the signs below are not an indicator of a poor rescue service, they should make you want to know more about the rescue.
- The Health Status of the Animals Look Poor
It’ll help to check for any signs that may show a rescue center isn’t offering proper care to its animals before volunteering or adopting.
According to toxicologists and veterinarians, signs of poor health include animals that are tick-infested, emaciated, have open wounds, are covered with feces and urine, and have any untreated health condition.
Toxicologists and veterinarians also advice on the behavioral signs that show a poorly treated pet. Check for behavioral signs such as a pet that is exhibiting fear due to emotional suffering.
Also, check for aggressive behavior, shutdown, or shyness as a result of neglect, abuse, or lacking a good social life.
Pets that don’t get proper enrichment or those living in overcrowded environments may show stress related to their kennels. Kennel stress may cause fence fights and extreme reactivity as the animals redirect anxiety towards each other.
Other signs that indicate kennel stress include excessive jumping, spinning or barking within the kennel, difficulties in settling, panting, and mucous membranes that look red. Kennel stress can be reduced by co-housing animals in the right pairs.
- Failure to Follow Animal Care Standards
Most federal governments don’t regulate animal rescue. There’re Acts of law that regulate the exhibition, research, and breeding of certain animals.
However, animal rescue centers and shelters aren’t regulated by most animal welfare laws. Nevertheless, there’re some state-specific regulations on animal rescues and shelters.
Some rescue centers voluntarily observe animal welfare standards that are set by NGOs and other professional organizations.
There are some organizations that focus on the humane treatment of animals. They set guidelines for the care of animals in shelters and rescues.
These standards aim at ensuring that animals are cared for in a humane way despite lacking federal laws on the same.
As such, you should invest in a rescue center that is accredited by organizations and medical facilities that focus on the well-being of animals. Some veterinary associations actually license rescues that certify the set standards.
If you’d like to volunteer or donate to wildlife, horse, and farm sanctuaries, then do so to rescues that are accredited by professional organizations.
Also, do the same when adopting pets. An accredited sanctuary is one whose operations and safety practices have been thoroughly reviewed and it meets rigorous standards.
- Low Rates of Adoption
According to experts in animal welfare, low rates of adoption means that the rescue center might be having unrealistic requirements for adoption.
Maybe the rescue has exceeded its capacity to take good care of the animals and is still accepting more animals.
There are reputable rescues that offer long-term and effective care services under some specific circumstances. However, most animals should be adopted quickly in reputable shelters.
- Sketchy Financials
The way a rescue handles its financial dealings should tell more about its reputation. The financials of the organization, including its website information and tax returns, are a good tool for evaluating its transparency, accountability, and financial health.
Unrealistic fees for adoption should be a major concern. A fee of let’s say $500 wouldn’t be viewed as exorbitant in case it includes some value-added benefits and services such as obedience classes, a microchip, and neuter or spray.
If you’ll only get the pet for $500 without any extras, then you should be wary of the organization.
- Inadequate Space
Check whether there’re many animals housed in one kennel or whether crates are stacked on each other. A good kennel is one that has appropriate flooring. Animals shouldn’t walk on crates.
Proper animal housing requires keeping animals in spacious cages, especially those that are double-sided.
The rescue should have enough staff or volunteers to take the animals out for exercises and bathroom breaks at least twice or thrice daily.
Separate elimination areas are stressful for all kinds of animals and pets as it impacts negatively on their welfare.
It’s important for animals to have enough space in their kennels for moving around freely. The space should also have access to the outdoors.
Animals are healthier when they have enough space to play within their yards and outdoor space for running.
- A Dirty Facility
Poor maintenance of the center should be a warning sign. For instance, high ammonia levels are an indicator of excessive pet feces and urine. It shows that the rescue lacks adequate ventilation and is not properly cleaned.
High ammonia levels may cause respiratory problems among the animals and humans. The animals should always have clean water, food, blankets, bedding, and toys.
If you happen to visit an animal shelter and get a bad feeling about it, then your instinct should tell you that something is wrong somewhere and it’s no longer helping animals like it initially intended.
- The Rescue Lacks Transparency
If the rescue isn’t transparent about its people, pets, programs, practices, and policies, then you shouldn’t trust them.
A professional rescue should always be open to let everyone know how they manage their facility. They should be willing to allow visitors to tour the facility.
Moreover, the organization should be willing to let you access the full history of an animal, including access to information regarding de-worming, vaccination, neuter or spray, and proof of veterinarian checkup.
Ideally, the rescue should also have information about how a specific animal interacts with other animals of its kind and unfamiliar human beings.
Even if a pet is known to be friendly towards other pets, each pet is unique in its own way.
- The Staff Isn’t Cooperative
The rescue stuff shouldn’t rush you during the animal selection process. They should work hand in hand with you when determining your needs.
Reputable shelters allow potential adopters to take their time to observe a pet and its environment. The staff should also offer follow up services after a pet is adopted.
They should offer class opportunities and training advice to ensure the animal is adopted successfully.
Moreover, they should be willing to assist you when having concerns about the pet’s behavior and whether they can accept it back in case you’re unable to cope with it.
A reputable rescue organization should also refer potential adopters to previous owners for second opinions. They also make their reviews public.
- The Website of the Rescue Doesn’t Have Key Information
A reputable rescue should have a website with a telephone number, email address, work hours, and a physical address.
If the rescue has listed that it only operates by appointment, then you should be concerned. If the facility invites you, request for a tour around the facility.
The rescue should also have a clear mission statement. A good mission statement should focus on the welfare of the animals under their care.
Also, check out for things such as transparency of procedures and operations and statistics on adoption.
If the organization is exempted from tax, that shouldn’t determine its reputation since it’s inexpensive and easy to get such a status.
- The Rescue Doesn’t Vet Potential Adopters Carefully
If the organization has a high rate of turnover, then it’s a sign that they’re doing a good job. However, the turnover should be well balanced by ensuring the pet adopters are vetted thoroughly.
A reputable organization should ask potential adopters questions about how they can assist them to do better.
A reputable rescue should also ask adopters to show valid proof of address, age, and identification. The organization should also have a counselor who can assist with discussing your needs.
They should also take you through the process of adoption and familiarize you with the available pets. You would want to take this opportunity to learn more about the pet you’re interested in.
If you’re suspecting animal abuse, you should report the case to local law enforcers.
You can also contact local animal societies. In case local agencies fail to assist, then contact national animal agencies.