Dogs Don't Have Wings but Angels Do!

If you are on this page you must be an animal angel! The homeless dogs and cats across our nation need all the help they can get. Rescuing an animal can be challenging but it is also one of the most rewarding experiences of a lifetime.

The reality is that the majority of rescue groups are at capacity. However, we can teach you to do what we do. If you are in the position to help an animal in need we can assist you by sharing our decade of rescue experience to set you up for a safe and successful private adoption.

So you've rescued a dog or cat! Now what do you do?

Get an ID TAG! The first thing we do is put a tag on a new rescue. You don't have a relationship with your new rescue if it should get away from you. Most Petcos & Petsmarts have in-store ID tag machines.

Take your rescue to the vet and ask these important questions:

  • Is the animal micro chipped by a previous owner?
  • How old is this animal?
  • What breed/or breeds does the vet think the animal could be?
  • Is the animal spayed and neutered?
  • If it's a puppy/kitten how many pounds does the vet think the animal will be when full grown?
  • Are there any health issues that are a concern?

Recommended Vet Check List:

At The Rescue Train we like to make sure our animals that are up for adoption are in good health and ready to go home. We are also careful that a rescue doesn't have any contagious illnesses that could infect an existing pet.

  • Overall examination
  • SPAY & NEUTER YOUR RESCUE. The reason you are dealing with a rescue is because of pet overpopulation. Be responsible never adopt out an unaltered animal!
  • Vaccinations
  • Deworm
  • Deflea
  • CATS ONLY: FIV/LUKEMIA test. * This is a must!
  • Microchip

Your Private Rescue To Do List:

• Decide whether you are going to foster or board your rescue.Fostering your rescue is a great way to learn about its behavior in a home. If fostering is not an option consider keeping your rescue at a local boarding facility. Check with your vet's office to see if they offer short term boarding.

• Get to know your rescue. Does your dog/cat get along with other animals? Children? Is he/she housebroken? Potential adopters are going to want to know the answers to these questions.

• Get your dog training. An obedience trained dog is very attractive to potential adopters. Additionally dog training is going to give you an opportunity to learn more about your rescue with the help of a professional dog trainer. Ask the trainer what he/she thinks would be the ideal home for your rescue.

• Get a great photo! The biggest tool you have in getting your rescue a home is A GREAT PHOTO! The Internet and flyers are VISUAL. Bad photos usually don't get a response. Photo tips:

  • Try to get the animal to look into the camera and connect. NO PROFILES PLEASE! A treat or squeaky toy can often get your rescue to look towards camera.
  • NO FLASH Please. It helps to take your rescue's photos in natural light with a digital camera. When the flash goes off you get alien eyes.
  • Use the sports setting on your camera. Since animals tend to move a lot this setting increases the chance of you getting a good photo.
  • Browse our website. Go to "Adopt a Dog" or "Adopt a Cat" pages and click on photos. It will help to see what we are talking about.

• Network your rescue. Now that you have your adorable photo and have learned important information about your rescue you are ready to post! Social networking, flyers, e-mail campaigns, and ads in local papers are all good ways to network and get your rescue seen. Ask your family and friends to help spread the word!

• Fundraising For Your Rescue. When you do something good like rescue an animal others want to join in and help. Often friends, family, coworkers and the community where you rescued a pet will help with donations. Circulating a flyer and or e-mail with a cute photo and the animal's story will inform animal lovers that this animal is in need. You can ask people to make out checks to vet offices or boarding facilities if that makes them more comfortable and they know their money is going directly to the care of the animal.

• Screen potential adopters. We strongly recommend that you have a potential adopter fill out an adoption application. The application is the best tool to see if the person is a responsible pet owner.

• Meet and greet your potential adopters to see how you like them in person. Don't be in a rush to place your rescue. The biggest mistake of new rescuers is they are in a hurry. Why go through all this effort and put your heart into this animal if the placement is not right? Do your home work and take the time to screen the home.

• Be a responsible rescuer. Set your rescue and new family up for success!

  • BE HONEST about your rescue. Not being honest about your rescue is setting the adoption up for failure.
  • Protect small children. If you don't know the history of your rescue and aren't 100% sure that it gets along with kids don't take risks.
  • Protect existing pets in adopter's homes. We love bully breeds but sometimes they aren't good with other animals (especially cats). If you aren't sure get the help of a professional dog trainer.
  • Introduce dogs correctly. The best way to introduce dogs is to have them go for a walk, on leash, on neutral territory. If that goes well you can let the dogs go into a yard with leashes left on and see how they get along. The reason you leave the leashes on is in case there is an altercation you can quickly and easily pull the dogs apart. You never want to bring your rescue directly into another dog's home!
  • Introduce cats correctly. Bring your rescue in its carrier and put it on the floor of the new home. Let the other cat smell the cat through the carrier and observe. Remember hissing is not aggression. Hissing means "Don't get too close I'm scared." Growling or screaming is a problem. Exchanging scents with a towel is helpful. Take it slow.

• Do a home check prior to adoption: A home check is not meant to be an invasion of privacy but to make sure your animal is entering a safe and loving home. After you have spent so much time and energy on your rescue don't you want to see where it is going to spend the rest of its life? A good home will have nothing to hide. Things to look for at your home check:


  • Is the fence high enough? Large dogs need at least 6ft high fence. Is the fence secure? Walk the perimeter and check for holes or weak areas. Don't be afraid to ask the potential adopters to make the environment secure before their new pet comes home. If they are not willing to then they don't take the dog's safety seriously.
  • If there is a pool is there a fence around it? Dogs are like kids. Especially puppies and senior dogs. A puppy can drown when you turn your back. Even senior dogs that once could swim can lose their balance or become disoriented in their golden years. If it is a healthy adult dog that enjoys swimming please teach the dog where the steps are.
  • Who has access to their yard? Gardeners? Workmen? Small children? Gates should be locked. Dogs
    must be kept inside while workers are present. Children must be reminded about closing doors and
    gates for their new pet. Many dogs are lost as the result of a gate being left open.


  • Are there screens on windows?
  • Are there any unsafe areas in the home where it could hide or get stuck? For example a fire place, holes in walls, etc.
  • Children must be reminded about closing doors so a cat can't escape.
  • Do they live in coyote country? Will they keep the cat indoors?

• Adoption Contract. So you've found a great home! Congratulations for getting this far! We strongly recommend that you use an adoption contract to release you from liability and binds the adopter to keep their promises to the quality of home and care for the pet.

• Ask for a Donation. Do not give animals away for free! It has been proven over and over that people don't put any value on things they get for free. Also you want to be confident that your adopter has the financial ability to care for a pet. If they can't afford a donation they can't afford ten years plus of vet bills. What is appropriate? That is up to you. Ask for the cost of your spaying and neutering and vaccines or have the adopters make a donation to a local animal rescue in honor of the work you did.

May the good Karma come back to you many many times!