For many years, animal rescue was performed mostly by breeders and very few people even knew it ever occurred. Today, new rescue groups seem to pop up daily. Those interested in adopting a dog (or any other animal) should be aware that not every group or individual who makes the claim of being a rescue operates the same way.
In addition, there are puppymillers and brokers who may attempt to pass dogs to the public by "claiming" the dogs are rescues (and charging higher than normal fees).
Many rescuers are helping many dogs, however, certain operations, practices, and philosophies, may not allow for the best possible intake, evaluation, and placement of rescued dogs; may not allow for the best possible evaluation of potential adoptive homes; and may not be best for "rescue," a certain breed, or for dogs in general in the long run.
You are encouraged to ask questions and investigate "rescuers" and their practices, so you will know who or what you're dealing with and/or supporting.
Here are some questions you may want to ask:
Are donations being used to "purchase" dogs to be placed through rescue (i.e. from puppy mill auctions, pet stores, etc)? (The American Kennel Club has a position statement that condemns this action, because, in spite of what ever "noble justification" is provided, this practice is creating yet another "demand" and filtering money - no matter how little - back into the hands of puppy mills and commercial breeders.
- Spays/neuters all pets before placement
- ensures all pets are healthy, UTD on shots, HW tested (in areas where this is necessary) and vetted
- requires an application form and adoption contract
- screens every potential adopter with a MANDATORY home visit before a pet is placed there, including foster/temporary homes
- requires an adoption contract which includes a legal clause to have the pet returned to this rescue if the new adopter relinquishes it
- prioritizes rescue animals from its own geographical area whenever possible
- requires a release form for owner-surrenders
- understands the limits of its resources; does not accept more animals than it has legal authority or space/time to care for.