Is that Animal Rescue Legitimate?
Author, Dorinne Whynott, Owner of Professional Pet Sitting Etc.
How can you keep safe? Let’s find out.
Before you adopt or make a donation to an Animal Rescue or Shelter, make sure that rescue is a legitimate rescue. We are fortunate to have some great Rescues and Shelters in NH.
In light of the closing down (July 2015) of Sweet Paws Spa (also known as Sweet Tails Animal Rescue), other organizations being found to not be legitimate and your donations going into someone’s pocket instead of helping animals, here are some things to consider.
So, what happened? This Boarding facility, established in 2007, started to also rescue animals within the last year (could not find a date). I am not sure how people did not notice the deplorable conditions when dropping off their pets to be boarded but it was finally closed down in July 2015.
Here is there website – Sweet Tails Animal Rescue
No one checked to see if they were legitimate, if you scroll down the website page, you will see it is written they are a 5013c, non-profit and licensed rescue. They were not a non-profit nor were they licensed.
Here is a page – it states they obtain animals from high kill shelters which usually mean from the south. This is the only page where I could see anything about where they obtain animals. However, they could obtain any free animal and no one would ever know.
Why would a rescue not be a legitimate rescue?
Well, there are a few things. Sometimes, a kind hearted person finds an abandoned animal, nurses it back to health. They feel really good about what they have done and the animal needed them. Usually, the person is lonely and the needy animal fills a need for this person. So, they find another animal in need. Maybe it is a free animal in the paper, on craigslist or Facebook. This person feels they can do better than the person who just feels the animal has no value by offering it free, so they go and obtain the animal. This person has good intentions, they plan on finding a good home, but sometimes, those homes never come about because this person just can not think that another person will ever give the animals a good enough home like they can. So, she keeps them. Then 2 animals, turns into 10, then 20 and so on. Now these animals are a burden, she can not keep up with the cleaning, buying food is getting hard and it now becomes a hoarding situation.
Another scenario is someone who decides this could be a good way to make some money. They will call themselves a rescue. People will look kindly on them because they are rescuing animals in need. So, they obtain a few free animals, go online and say they are up for adoption. The animals get adopted and viola, fast cash. This is a bit like pet flipping (getting free pets and then asking for a re-homing fee). But this has a beneficial twist. Being thought of as a rescue, they can also ask for donations (illegally, but few will check to see if they are legal) !! People are willing to give them money to help the animals, with medical, food, whatever. Sweet Paws advertised on Facebook many times to find homes for pets.
The above situation has been added to considerably, in the last few years because of the new thing in New Hampshire of IMPORTING animals from the south. Animal Welfare in New Hampshire has done a very good job in getting the public to spay and neuter pets. This is a great thing because there are less animals euthanized due to over population. However, this created a shortage of puppies and now kittens. Again, this is a good thing unless you have a lot of people wanting puppies and kittens. So, some shelters decided to work with shelters in the south where they have too many unwanted puppies and kittens and started to ship them up here to be adopted. Many legitimate rescues and shelters in New Hampshire are working with legitimate rescues and shelters in the south and doing a great job.
However, this also created some southern rescues (and some pet flippers acting as rescues) to take matters into their own hands and just advertise online, get people to commit to adoption and then they would drive the puppies and kittens up here, meet in a parking lot and just give them out to the people. Sometimes, the people advertising animals did not even have animals, they just took money up front and disappeared after they had the money in hand. This also created animals brought into the state that were not healthy, not vaccinated and falsified health certificates. As soon as the animals were up here and money was in the southerners hands, they were never to be heard from again. In the fall of 2013, these unhealthy animals brought in a mutated strain of parvovirus running through the state. Luckily, it did not spread too fast and seems to have been thwarted.
– Here is a WMUR Video on the Importing of animals in NH (please ask more questions than this video states)
With all of these problems being created, The state of New Hampshire ended up creating a law, that any animal brought into the state must be quarantined for 48 hours in a licensed facility before going into a new home.
Here are the other laws for rescues/shelters/breeders/anyone you should be aware of
The above laws are there to protect YOU and well as protect the ANIMALS.
So, how can you protect yourself?
Like everything else, ask a lot of questions and do your research. Better to take the time now, then to either lose your money or obtain a very sick animal or worse.
What should you look for-
1- Date Established
Rescues that have just opened in the past year or so would be a red flag. As mentioned above, many people are starting “rescues” because it is an easy profit for some. A form of Pet Flipping. Getting free unwanted pets locally or from out of state and bringing them here to “adopt”. With fees ranging from 50-300 per animal, it could be easy profit. Sometimes a transport fee may be tacked on of 100-300.
What to look for – a rescue established 5 years or more is probably a safe bet
2 – They should have a website
Not Petfinder alone. All legitimate rescues/shelters will have their very own website, giving you information on the organization. There should be an about us section, how the organization was started and when. This information is a great start, but the creator can write anything they want, so make sure to check things out as well. For example, they can write they are a non-profit but not be a non-profit.
3 – Facebook page
This is good as long as they also have a legitimate website. They should not only have a Facebook page. Check to see what others have posted about this organization. Do not just go by these posts because they could be friends, family and even the creator using different names.
4- Be Licensed with the state (NH) as a rescue
Check with the state agriculture to make sure that they are a licensed rescue. The state of NH requires that All rescues/shelters must be licensed with the state every year. The yearly annual fee is $200.
5- Non-Profit Status in NH
Check to make sure that their Non-profit status is legitimate. Many organizations state they are nonprofit but are not. In NH organizations must do quite a few things to become nonprofit with the state and then they must do what is required to become a nonprofit federally.
6- Veterinarian on call
All rescues/shelters work with a veterinarian
7- Ask what the animals have had medically and get a copy of this medical.
AND CHECK IT OUT, call the veterinarian who signed
Why? because many illegal “rescues” forge paperwork. So, do NOT rely on it.
All animals should receive –
- Vaccines up to date for their age
- Testing appropriate for dog (heartworm) or cat (Feline Leukemia)
- Spay/neuter, even kittens and puppies
Your adoption fee is a BARGAIN for all of the above services. If you were to pay for these services your self, it will most likely cost you 2, 3, and maybe 4 times as much as your adoption fee.
8- Ask where their animals come from
Are the animals owner surrenders, ferals, abandoned animals in NH?
Are the animals imported from other states? Where from?
9- If imported from other states, what licensed facility for quarantine do they use?
NH state law requires that all animals are quarantined for 48 hours before going into a new home. This is because the out of state organizations that have these animals are so desperate to get them up here that they were falsifying documents and health certificates. This creates disease coming into the state and affecting our animals up here.
At these NH licensed facilities, they usually will check out documentation. Many from NH facilities will have NH documentation for health certificates and vaccines if they came without documentation or documentation that can not be proven.
All organizations in AND out of NH must be licensed in NH if they choose to adopt in NH.
All transporting organizations that are bringing animals into the state of NH must bring animals to a NH licensed facility to be quarantined for 48 hours before they can be adopted out.
If there is a foster home in NH for an out of state organization, the foster home and out of state organization must be licensed in the state of NH as a rescue if they are adopting.
10- What is their adoption policy?
What do they do, if anything, if this animal becomes sick in the first 30 days?
What is their return policy, if ever you can no longer keep this animal for any reason? A legitimate rescue/shelter will always have the animal returned to them
11- Visit the facility, if possible.
Is it clean, smells good, animals look well cared for, have fresh water and clean dishes. Are they housed separately or are they crammed with too many animals in a cage/kennel.
What should you do, if you suspect something is off?
- Document clearly what you have found, take pictures, write dates and notes of findings.
- Are they not licensed, not a nonprofit?
- Did you find the facility in bad shape, animals neglected, feces all over?
- TELL someone. Call another shelter, animal abuse investigator.
- Call the State of Agriculture. They are responsible for all the animal related laws in the state of NH
If you are reading this, chances are you LOVE animals. This was not written to thwart any legitimate help for animals. It was written to arm you with information, to protect you from being used or stolen from and to ultimately help animals. Homeless and abandoned Animals have it hard enough without being used again.
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About the Owner and Professional Pet Sitting Etc
Dorinne Whynott, is a long time animal professional. She is a successful business owner establishing one of the largest pet sitting companies in New Hampshire since 1990. Click to Read her complete History.
Professional Pet Sitting Etc. is a leading business in the pet care field and continues to grow since 1990. It is an AWARD WINNING business, having been awarded the 2015 Best Pet Sitting , 2015 Best Dog Walker, Business of the Year Awards in 1996, 1997, 2006 and 2010. It boasts 30+ amazing pet sitters on staff, over 3000 clients in 38 cities from Nashua to Concord, NH. Hundreds of satisfied client testimonials can be found on their website and more 5 star reviews on their Facebook page, Google+ page and more. They have sustained an A+ rating with the BBB, A rating with Angie’s List and are unmatched in the Pet Sitting Industry in New Hampshire.
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