Have you ever thought about starting an animal rescue, but scrapped the idea because it seemed like an impossible feat? Well, good news… it is possible! Anyone with enough determination, patience, and direction can start a rescue and save many animals’ lives. While we don’t have the power to instill determination and patience into anyone, we can provide some direction. We want to help any animal lover’s dream turn into a reality (and see an abundance of animal rescues!), so we gathered eight tactics for starting a successful animal rescue.
Set a goal.
Setting a goal makes you more likely to reach it. Note the type of animals you want to rescue, and how many you are going to rescue each year. Be as realistic as possible. Put your goal in writing, and stick to it.
Make a plan.
The more detailed your plan is, the more smoothly your rescue will operate. How will you obtain the animals? Will you need to use crates or kennels? Are you going to have foster homes? Do you want to run a private rescue or a non-profit organization?
Know the laws in your area.
The more laws you obey, the easier it will be to operate your rescue. Find out about the zoning and non-profit organization laws in your area, and do what you need to do to register and obtain your non-profit permit or license. Also, take your town’s zoning laws into consideration while picking out a place for your rescue.
Get enough money to start with.
With a sizeable nest egg, your rescue will be able to care for all the animals coming in once word gets out. Figure out the kind of budget you’ll need, and then take out a loan, raise funds, or hit up your rich aunt Mabel. Don’t forget to make room in your budget for unexpected costs like emergency medical care.
Find a way to get continuous cash flow.
Nothing is more heartbreaking than being forced to give up all the animals you took under your wing because you ran out of the money to care for them. Not only does this happen a lot to shelters and rescues, but many families go through this, too. To avoid this scenario, figure out what will guarantee your shelter continuous cash flow. A few ideas include fundraising, a private room your shelter can rent out for events, or a doggy day care program.
Pick out a place.
Obviously, you need a place to hold all the animals whose lives you’ve saved. If you decide to use your own home, be sure to keep the number of animals low or have a lot of foster homes lined up. If you prefer a facility, it would be better to buy a place than to rent it. That way, you don’t have to risk uprooting the animals and moving them if you run into a problem with your landlord.
Unless you have the ability to clone yourself or stop time, you can’t do everything all at once. You need to delegate your work to volunteers. Try to get as many as possible so a few people don’t end up doing all the work. There are many ways to recruit volunteers – the more creative you are, the better! Here’s an idea: you can partner with teachers at local colleges to encourage their students to volunteer for a class project. For example, a graphics arts teacher could assign his students to create newsletters and banners for your shelter. A more practical idea is to post ads around town, at the local grocery store, church, or anywhere else. Keep in mind that many people love animals, and they would be more than happy to help out any way they can!
If you record everything, you can open the books to the public and your donators and show them where their money is going. Keep accurate records by writing down every single expense your shelter has, ranging from pet food to utility bills.
Starting an animal rescue is not easy, but it is doable! There are many resources out there to help you get started. If you get discouraged for any reason, keep in mind that many animals are depending on you to save their lives, and after saving your first animal, you will feel something you’ve never felt before. It’s a very rewarding experience.