Monday, March 31, 2008

Animal Rescue or Shelter?

What does it mean to be an animal rescue or pet rescue organization? Is an animal rescue something different than an animal shelter?

The Animal Welfare League of Arlington in Virginia, with an open-door policy and animal control services under its roof serves, as I suspect many shelters do, as both an animal shelter and animal rescue. Many shelters not only provide homes to unwanted pets and adopt out great animals, they also provide a variety of animal rescue services. Every day the loving staff at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington rescue pets from adverse situations.

For example, if shelters and rescues did not exist, it would not necessarily make guardians of unwanted pets keep them, would it? Then what would happen? Would the dog of the people who are moving to a place that does not allow pets be dumped on the side of the road or simply left behind? It happens, more often with cats, that they are abandoned when a family moves. Left to fend for themselves.

But what, exactly, is the difference between and animal rescue and and animal shelter? According to an entry in Wikipedia:

"There are two major difference between shelters and rescue groups. Shelters are usually run and funded by local government. Rescue groups are funded mainly by donations and most of the staff are volunteers. While some shelters put animals into foster homes, many are housed on site in kennels. Rescue groups place all their rescues into foster homes as they do not have shelter facilities."

Well, the Animal Welfare League of Arlington is partially funded by the County but offers additional services such as veterinary assistance, low-cost spay and neuter, additional healthcare for unwanted animals and so much more with help from donations.

The Animal Welfare League of Arlington does employ the use of volunteer foster homes, as many other shelters do and as rescues do, and, there are several rescue organization in the Virginia area that do have onsite kennels, in addition to foster homes.

There is also a common misconception that all shelters impose a time limit on animals in their care. At the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, as with many of the more progressive shelters, this is absolutely not the case.

It seems that as animal shelters evolve, the lines between animal rescues and animal shelters are blurred.

Thankfully, however, at least in Virginia, we have so many shelters and rescues serving the animals of our community that hopefully, one day, no dog, cat or small companion animal will have to do without rescue.

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