Responsible Reputable Rescue

Becoming a Respected Rescue

Tax Exempt Status

Reputable rescue organizations should have a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status registered with the IRS. If donations are not tax-deductible, then where are they going? Organizations can be non-profit without tax exemption. However, they have to pay taxes on any money donated. A non-profit rescue organization should garner tax-exempt status so all their funds go directly for the rescue without any tax consequences. Therefore, they provide transparent financial accountability for donations and details on how they spend donation dollars for donors to see.

Reputable Rescue Overview

A respected rescue organization will only be as good as the volunteers that become involved with it. A rescue dealing with Pit Bulls or any specific breed should understand the breed’s health, temperament, and typical behaviors. Many rescues acquire dogs from them through agreements with shelters and humane organizations, which helps free up space in them. Some will also accept dogs as owner surrenders, but that is usually only under special circumstances. Most rescued dogs would like owners to be more proactive and responsible in keeping their dogs.

Acquiring a Dog

Before acquiring a dog from a reputable rescue, it should have gone through a behavior assessment. Plus, evaluate the dog for any aggression issues directly by the rescue, not the opinions of others. Next up, a health checkup is in order, including to update any vaccinations needed and rabies. along with spaying or neutering the dog, if that has not already been done. This is a good time to start a monthly heartworm preventative (if the dog is heartworm negative) along with a flea and tick preventative and address any other health issues and treatment at this time.

Behavior Assessment

Behavior assessments provide accurate and honest information on the dog’s behavior and personality. All dogs should be formally evaluated before coming to the rescue. Rescues should allow inquiries into their behavior assessment methods and allow the adopters to review the results with the organization’s staff. A reputable rescue organization will have in place a set of guidelines for a behavior assessment. A behavior assessment is important for understanding how the dog reacts in certain situations, but it is not the be-all and end-all. It simply means the dog has passed the criteria within the assessment’s guidelines.

Human Aggression

Rescues should never knowingly rehome aggressive dogs simply to save the dogs’ lives. Lawsuits abound in today’s world. Furthermore, a lawsuit brought against a rescue for the placement of a dog with a known human aggression issue is gross negligence. It can hurt their reputation as well as cause financial damage to the rescue.

” Egregious” aggression defined by the individual shelter or rescue, but some defining characteristics could be

  1.   a bite that requires medical treatment,
  2.   injurious bite that the dog could have avoided inflicting but opted to bite rather than retreat,
  3.   injurious bite delivered without obvious warning, or
  4.   an attack in which injurious bites were delivered repeatedly
reputable rescue dog photo

Foster Care Programs

What to look for in foster care Are they in clean kennels? In a foster home? Or in crates stacked up in a hot, shadeless yard? Many rescue organizations do not have a shelter environment and use a foster care program to house the dogs they accept into their programs. These homes are private homes owned by foster families. With this setup, it’s much easier to have an approved adoption application before potential adopters can meet the dogs. Because the dogs live in private homes, this allows you to limit who and when people can meet the dogs. 

Foster families take a dog into their home until the dog is placed for adoption. They will work with and train the dog to learn the basics of obedience training, house training, and socialization. Dogs are relinquished to shelters and humane organizations many times because of a lack of training. Rescues should be willing to help the adopters and the dog with any issues they have. Having a qualified dog trainer involved with you can be a help. As this is where experience counts the most, no book or website can replace the experience of the volunteers who work with a responsible rescue. Equally, potential adopters need to realize that mistakes can and will happen, even with the best-trained dog. and that a period of adjustment and decompression is necessary for all newly adopted dogs.

Five Freedoms of Reputable Rescue

Responsible rescue means filling all the dogs’ needs in their care for as long as they are with them. 

Provide Freedom From:

  •  hunger and thirst.
  •  discomfort.
  • pain, injury, and disease.
  •  fear and distress; and the.   
  • the freedom to express normal behaviors.
Brown Dog in Close Up Photography

Adoption Applications

Applications should be adopter-friendly and thorough enough so that the rescue can get a clear picture of the potential adopters. In addition to the type of dog they are looking for, or if there are others living in their household, adoption applications typically start the communication process between an adopter and a rescue. Organizations should be willing to look for ways to help the adopter find a good match if their chosen dog turns out not to fit their home or lifestyle. Adopting Pit Bull-type dogs to households where the dog is the only dog or where the adopter has an opposite-sex dog is always a good idea. Pit Bulls tend to do better with dogs of the opposite sex than the same sex.. Courtesy Adoption Application PDF)

Denying and Application

When denying applications, rescues should be upfront with potential adopters and tell them if and why. Not only should they be upfront, but organizations should never ignore adopters. There should be a way to answer all inquiries from adopters. There is nothing worse than being interested in adopting and never hearing from the rescue organization.

Strict Adopter Background and Lifestyle 

The rescue organization should complete a series of checks before adopting out. The series of checks includes current veterinarian queries and personal reference checks. Schedule a home visit once these are completed. So you can see where the dog will be living and if the dog will get along with other family members (human and animal).


Some adopters may think this is invasive. However, a rescue that places an animal in any home without first ensuring the safety and welfare of the dog is doing a disservice to both the dog and the adopter. A responsible rescue will have a signed agreement requiring them to maintain humane standards. Or the relinquishment of the dog back to the rescue.

Requirements for Adopters

  • Due to the number of dogs relinquished because of landlord changes, with new landlord rules or moving and being unable to find a place that allows bully breeds or numerous other rental issues, adopters should be homeowners or condo owners, with no restrictions on the breed. This means requesting condo owners to supply the rules about dogs from their condo association and asking homeowners who live in developments to provide the language from the homeowners’ association. Only under special circumstances should renters be able to adopt Pit Bulls.
  • When adopting out puppies, require proof of registering for a formal humane and positive training class before adopting the puppy. This way the puppy and the adopters have a good start to their relationship. Prior to the adoption, they can simply give you a copy of the receipt.
  •  Adopters should be at least 21 years old, and if they are attending college, they should stabilize their lives before adopting.

Medical Records and Treatment

Spay and neuter along with updated vaccines for dogs before they go home. With only rare exceptions for serious medical reasons. This should be included in your adoption fee. Once adopted all medical records should go with that dog. The medical information should be readily available to the adopter for their current veterinarian to add to their records. If the animal does not work out for any reason, the rescue should bring it back into their program. After exhausting all means of keeping the dog in the home before uprooting the dog yet again.

Requirements for Rescue

Ethical and Responsible Rescues Will:

  •  Maintain the health of their animals through vaccinations and routine preventative and veterinarian visits;
  •  Not take in more dogs than they can care for;
  •  Train the dog to acceptable standards;
  • Ensure that the dog will go to a home that the dog will flourish in;
  •  Maintain communication with the adopters to assist in any training or behavioral issues;
  •  Place the dog’s health and welfare above all other things considered; and
  •  Always take a dog back. Whether it is a problem with the dog or the adopter, communication should be an open door, and the rescue should honor their original commitment to the dog, even if the adopter will not, no matter the reason.

Looking for a rescue? please check our Pit Bull Rescue resource list.