Image by Igor Ovsyannykov from Pixabay 

What is the most effective animal rescue organization?

An effective animal rescue needs to do many things to be effective at rescuing animals. But the most important things I feel would be:

  • Rescue and rehome the animals:

An obvious one, but this includes an inclusive, reasonable, uncomplicated, and non-judgmental adoption application. It also involves being responsive to applications and inquiries, and not ruling out a potential adopter until discussing concerns with them personally - I have experienced and heard a lot of issues in this particular area, so it is certainly worth evaluating. An effective rescue will not look for perfection, it will look for a good match where the pet is well taken care of and loved with a low chance of "return". And keep an open mind with every application

  • Set boundaries and stick with them:

An effective rescue will know their limits, so they do not get overwhelmed by taking on too much work or too many animals. It is also worth noting that an effective rescue will rehome the animals as opposed to keeping them, which can happen (and further limits the number of animals they can move through, with that spot "taken"). This applies mostly to rescues run out of the home. So on that note, a boundary needs to be set as to how many personal animals the rescue owner will have and stick to that number.

  • Clever and always positive marketing:

An effective rescue will think of clever, humorous, and creative ways to market their animals. Perhaps it is a funny poster or a meaningful story. But whatever it is, it attracts attention to the animals they have who need homes and gets people out to adoption events or the shelter to see them. And the message needs to be positive, not guilt-ridden or judgmental. They should be marketing this message and the pets through whatever channels they can (social media, Craigslist, even TV). Their marketing and adoption profiles will never include blaming the previous owner or blaming the community for "dumping" animals. Their marketing will never show that an animal is "sad" (the "through the kennel door" shot). It may mention problems if they need to be known by a prospective new guardian, but it would be in a matter-of-fact way about how an issue needs to be addressed and move on quickly to what's important -- how the animal is today or will be in his new home.

  • Find, utilize and appreciate volunteers:

An effective rescue will attract volunteers with meaningful and rewarding tasks that actually make a difference and make an effort to offload "staff" tasks to help balance workloads. The rescue will continue to retain volunteers by showing their appreciation for performing these tasks that make a difference. An effective rescue will also allow volunteers to take on more challenging roles over time, and even assume leadership roles, as they realize this is important for volunteer retention. The rescue will not feel threatened by giving their own tasks to responsible and able volunteers... realizing that this makes themselves and their rescue look even better to others.

And what I feel is the most important:

Be politically involved and use your voice: Many rescues do not get involved in speaking about the politics of animal welfare, despite being in the middle of them, and keep quiet in fear of retaliation from shelters or only make passive comments about what happens. A very common example, something that happens all the time, is a pet is killed after the rescue puts a hold on it. This is against the law where I live, but it happens all the time. Most rescues are not willing to tell this story to advocate for the animal who was killed or future animals who will die. While this does make sense to not create waves (they want to pull pets from that particular shelter and fear the very real retaliation that could follow), it does not help solve the problem and the shelter learns it can continue bullying all rescues and citizens. If rescues stood up to this problem and all the others we face, and forced transparency on the shelters that break laws or don't want to work with them, it would help save so many more animals than they help today. An effective rescue will speak up in a level-headed, logical, passionate but unemotional, and fair manner about what they believe is right, to try and progress the cause and save way more animals in our community than they could ever take in themselves.

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