When is a Rescue Not a Rescue?

No one wants to buy from a puppy mill. But did you know that you could be even if you adopt?

That’s right! The Don’t Shop, Adopt campaign has been so successful that some puppy mills are getting sneaky and setting up their own “rescues.”

What? Are you kidding me?
What? Are you kidding me?

Oh, they look good.

They hold adoption events. They contract with a vet to provide care for the animals. Some even have 501(3)(c) status.

But all they’re really doing is “adopting” out the older puppies that weren’t sold. They’re not lying when they say the animals were removed from a puppy mill. They just don’t tell you THEY run the puppy mill.

Other so-called rescues are run by brokers who buy the puppies from the breeders, then turn around and “adopt” them out.

And they’re not just “adopting” out animals at the same rates they would have sold them for, they’re also soliciting donations from unwitting individuals!

You mean they even have people giving them money?
You mean they even have people giving them money?

So what should potential adopters do to make sure they aren’t unwittingly buying a puppy mill puppy?

See where the animal is kept.  If they tell you the animal is being fostered, ask to see the foster home. If they refuse, ask why.

Don’t be fooled by cute photos. Cute doesn’t mean the animals are well cared for. Better yet, don’t adopt online.

Find out if the group is truly a non-profit. The status and policies of a 501(3)(c) are public record and must be presented if requested.

Ask who is on the Board of Directors. If there is none, or if the list consists of family members and friends, be suspicious.

Ask how may animals they’ve adopted out. A good rescue organization will know.

Ask which vet the group contracts with to provide care, and talk to him or her.

A good rescue will ask you questions as well. If they want the fee and will give you the animal right then, that’s a sign they may not be reputable.

Remember, there are no uniform guidelines for operating a rescue. There are all sorts of bad actors out there. You may be tempted to take an animal from them anyway to save him, but by doing so, you’re ensuring that many other animals will suffer the same fate.

If you truly want to help animals, support your local rescue. They have plenty of wonderful animals that deserve a great home.


67 thoughts on “When is a Rescue Not a Rescue?

  1. There really is no end to the depths these money grubbers will sink …great info and I am sure food for thought for a lot of people…they have cunning and also money to spend on hiding there tricks ….so people need to know the right way to find reputable rescues. Fozziemum

  2. Never thought of that angle! Shameful! We spent about 3 hours at the rescue we got our dogs from – they work so hard! If what you say is true (and I don’t doubt it is) then legit rescue centres will surely also suffer as prospective funds go elsewhere. I’d suggest also that if you wish to adopt a rescue, spend hours researching on line if you can’t get out there. Look for others who have rescued from the centre. Watch the website or FB page for comments. Then GO and see for yourself. I agree, NEVER EVER buy online!

  3. Typically, rescues and shelters won’t give you any back story on the animal. This is most often because they themselves don’t know it. They will tell you how they got the animal, but that’s it. Also, they don’t want to influence your decision. Back when we got Tippy, Northeast Animal Shelter was still a kill facility. They would do everything in their power to avoid euthanizing dogs, but they still did it. We went through the entire adoption process, and not until we were done, did an employee approach us and say, “Thank God you came in when you did. This was her last day. I couldn’t say anything before, because we’re not allowed to influence your decision.”

    Jack on the other hand, came to us under similar circumstances, except the shelter is now No-kill. However, a little online detective work enabled me to learn of his history. Suffice to say, my little guy suffered. His inner puppy is severely wounded. Jack struggles now, to overcome his past, and our knowing some of that past helps us help him.

  4. Well this sheds light on something I’ve been wondering about – I’ve noticed a few “private shelters” that seem to be specializing in small, puppy-mill survivors; often older pups, with “adoption fees” that seem to be sale prices. I suspected they were just grabbing up older pups and basically flipping them, it never occurred to me they might be the breeders themselves. Disgusting on top of disgusting! Thanks for the intel.

  5. I always believed that rescue is a real rescue….but….oh no…. I didn’t know that there were some rescue groups that used to have another masks which was puppy mills……

  6. That’s always important to keep in mind! I didn’t actually think to ask about the board of directors. (Though I must say, I’m planning to start a rescue soon and my board of directors will, shamefully, be my family. Because I’m painfully introverted and don’t trust others.) But, I totally understand that that’s suspicious. =)

    1. If you are painfully introverted, how will you solicit funds for your rescue? May I suggest you enlist the aid of someone who is not shy to help? You’ll need that person. Successful rescue must be a community effort.

      1. Honestly I’m okay if it’s a small one. Better one dog saved at a time than none. The bigger issue is honestly me not trusting other people with it. I’ve been parts of great rescues, but I’ve also left rescues with a nasty taste in my mouth. =/ Hopefully before the time comes I will find someone right for the job, though.

      2. Well just so you know that when rescuers start talking about not trusting others to get involved, that’s a signal of something not quite right going on. Transparency is healthy. Secrecy and control is not.

      3. I have no problems with secrecy or control. I’ve seen rescues run so many different ways (some of which would drive me mad) and one of the bonuses of starting my own is getting to run it the way I want to. Honestly never having run a business before I think it’s wise to start small and build up. I plan to eventually add more people, but why start off with more than I can handle? I don’t think that builds a solid foundation at all.

  7. Excellent post! My rescue dog ‘Nikki’ needed some rehabilitation and I was able to visit her a few times at the foster home and got to know the organization as well. Really good tips here, so that we animal lovers can adopt/rescue with our eyes wide open. Bless your heart for all you do here! Hugs, Gina

  8. Gosh, the depths some people stoop to never fails to disgust me. Sadly I know of a rescue that take in a LOT of dogs and labels them “ex-breeding” dogs but they are scared of open spaces, bow legged, frightened of people, flinch, tremble and show all the classic signs of being puppy mill breeding dogs. I believe they have an agreement which means they take any dogs without question so that those at the end of their breeding days can find a home instead of being put down but it just doesn’t quite sit right with me.

    I have reported them to a local council and the RSPCA but they do not have to admit anything regarding puppy mills because they have been rescuing the dogs. I have no idea how I can stop them, or change something there and it really upsets me.

    ~ Amy

  9. Wow, Rumpy! There really is no limit to how low some will go is there? I’d not heard of this before, thanks for sharing!
    Hugs Carrie (Myfie. Ellie and Millie) x

  10. I really love your blog.. Pleasant colors & theme.

    Did you make this amazing site yourself? Please reply back as I’m looking to create my own
    blog and want to find out where you got this from or what
    the theme is called. Kudos!

  11. It was the duplicity I see on social media – and how well it is working – that prompted me to write my recent piece on puppy farms. Since writing that I’ve been told about some rescues specialising in rescuing from puppy farms and I was getting a bad feeling about it, as there seemed to be more dogs than there are raids in the news.
    This is important information, I’ll add a link from my post.

  12. Eggcellent psot Rumpy n Jen…all guud tipz…
    We find eben our local Shelter fergetz to ask impawtent questshunz n dey haz 4 leggedz reeturned cause dey not match wif Hu’man(z). Mum haz spent alot of time online doins earchez n she haz 3 resckue groupz picked out she will go to when it iz time fer a new furbaby 😉
    Lub Nylablue xxx

  13. Pingback: Amy Shojai's Blog
  14. I love you blog. Really great stuff. Just stumbled across it and it is weird timing because I recently had an experience like this. I was trying to some research on on-line puppy sales. I found this site … http://www.nextdaypets.com .. terrible name to entice on-line impulse buyers and so I signed up to see who would send a dog next day without any home visits, etc.

    This woman approached me. It seemed very fishy and I told her so. We are now going back and forth, she trying to prove she is a rescue and me trying to prove she is selling “returned” and auctioned ex breed dogs. She Anyone want to weigh in on this website? http://www.campmerrysunshinedogs.org/

    She said she did not have a donate button because she had a trust fund and has no address on the website.
    This was only last week.

    She just put up five new dogs she bought at dog auction over the weekend. Makes me sick.

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