An animal rescue is a group or organization that operates on a non-profit basis, and focuses its efforts on the adoption of pets that have been surrendered, unwanted, abused, neglected, lost or found. A rescue exists to help find these animals, most commonly cats and dogs, new, loving and forever homes. Similar to shelters, rescues operate on a volunteer basis, but unlike a shelter, a rescue has volunteers that take the pets home and care for them as though they are their own, until a suitable, appropriate and forever home is found.
Rescues typically operate for one specific animal: there are dog rescues, cat rescues, rat rescues, reptile rescues, horse rescues, and there are even rescues for specific breeds of each of the above. Some rescues, however, prefer to remain friendly and open to all breeds. Rescues often operate with foster programs, and rely on community involvement such as donations from local organizations in terms of food, money and resources.
Rescues often work with shelters to help take in animals at risk of being euthanized, or to help with issues such as overcrowding.
Often people confuse rescues and shelters because they serve similar purposes and have similar objectives and purposes. The main difference, aside from the location of the animals and the structure of the organization, is the source of income and funding. Shelters are government funded and therefore, it is the local government which pays for the vaccines, the building, and the materials; and then anything above that which is provided is often received through donations. The rescue operates solely on donations and volunteer efforts. Rescues take on animals that shelters cannot or will not because of sickness, injuries or risks that shelters are not able to take on. Rescues have a lower success rate because of their heavy reliance on donations.