The Beginning of a Best Practices Manual

During the next several months we will be working on our rescue best practices manual alongside the selfless rescuers who have volunteered to ensure that this manual is comprehensive and complete. Each Tuesday and Friday I’ll be posting a new section of the manual for rescuers to post their comments about.

Our hope for this manual is that it will not only guide new and developing rescues to save the most lives possible but that it will eventually serve as the basis for an Up For Pups rescue financial assistance program.

To kick off the rescue best practices manual, here is the initial outline. As feedback continues to come in from our rescue partners, we will continue to update our posts until the manual is complete. Feel free to leave comments with your thoughts and suggestions.

Summary: The nation’s largest pet adoption database,, showcases well over 10,000 “adoption groups” listing hundreds of thousands of adoptable animals at any given time. Many of these groups are private animal rescue organizations operated out of someone’s home with a network of transport and foster volunteers to support the immense number of animals taken in each year. Despite the fact that this industry is obviously sizable and growing, it is virtually unregulated without even a best practices handbook for rescues to reference.

Up For Pups, a 501(c)3 non-profit animal welfare organization, has set out to develop an indispensible manual that will serve as a guide for established and developing private rescue organizations, helping them to work most effectively. The goal is that this manual will help rescues save the most lives, spend the least money, and ensure a good experience for all volunteers involved.

*Manuals and standards are available for shelters, but “rescues” generally run very differently from shelters and cannot necessarily follow similar practices.

Data-Gathering Process: Up For Pups is partnering with experienced, diverse private rescue organizations to compile data regarding their practices. Up For Pups will evaluate that data and compile commonalities into this manual. Up For Pups will also compile data on what hasn’t worked well for these rescues. Participating rescues will be rewarded with a donation to their organization for their time and effort, as it is expected that each rescues will need to invest at least 15-20 hours into this project between live interviews and manual reviews.

Final Document: This project is expected to take six months to complete. The first edition of the Road to Rescue Best Practices Manual will focus on decentralized dog rescue organizations that function with the use of foster homes. It will be as many pages as necessary to describe the best practices of these organizations. The following outline highlights many of the general concepts that will be covered.

Following a successful first edition, Up For Pups will tailor the manual for other types of organizations like cat rescues, mixed-species rescues, and centralized rescues that have a common facility housing their adoptable animals.

Click HERE to see the project outline

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18 Responses to The Beginning of a Best Practices Manual

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  2. Kim Clune says:

    I just sent this post to my two co-horts in creating Dog House Adoptions. Thanks so much for putting this together, Kyla. The timing couldn’t be more beneficial. I’ll be sure to watch things progress for helpful hints.

  3. Thanks, Kim. We’ll do our best!

  4. Looking forward to sharing knowledge and learning from other rescues experiences. 🙂 Exciting! Thank you Kyla for putting this together and sticking with it. I’m excited to get started.

  5. Emily Day says:

    The Alliston & District Humane Society is excited to participate in this project! We have functioned solely out of foster homes for the last 22 years. Over those 22 years, we have been furiously fundraising to get enough money not only to provide assistance to the animals in our care but also to build a much needed shelter in our area. Three months ago we began moving animals into our new shelter.

    We are in a unique position to help with this project as the ADHS can offer input from both a “rescue” standpoint and also from a “shelter” one.

  6. Robin says:

    I really look forward to working on this project – this type of manual has been needed for sometime and I know that it will help so many groups.

    The outline looks great – maybe I am missing it – but I don’t see any section dealing with the Admin part of the Rescue – paying bills, tracking donations/expenses, dog paperwork or what type of software to use or not use, etc…

    I also don’t see anything about Tax Return filing requirements – as of last year ALL 501(c)3s must send in a Form 990 of sometype, no matter the amount of donations recieved.

  7. Thanks, Robin. I think in my mind most of that fell under legal concerns, but you’re right – there needs to be prominent information about some of that. Perhaps AZBR could take up the task? I can add it to the outline. Regarding tax return filing, I think that’s under legal concerns.

  8. Randi says:

    What a great project and a tremendous undertaking! I’ve been involved in Rottweiler rescue for about 9 years. We pretty much “made it up” as we went.

    The outline looks good. I didn’t see temperament evaluations specifically called out but could have overlooked it.

    I am especially interested in seeing how other rescues handle their dog records. This has to be one of my biggest headaches and would like to learn how to streamline the process.

    Thanks so much for taking this on!

  9. Hi Emily,
    I’m really excited to have your organization participating, since Humane Societies don’t usually function solely out of foster homes. Thanks for participating!

  10. Hi Randi,
    Great idea on the temperament evaluation. As we put together the document, I’ll be sure that gets included.

  11. Kelly says:

    I’m very excited about this project. I’m a very small rescue in San Diego and I focus most of my time on the training and rehabilitating of the dogs in my care. But I’ve gotten to the point where I need help, I just don’t know how to find it, or even ask for it. I’ll be very interested in reading your weekly posts.

  12. Pingback: Rescue SPOTlight: Alliston & District Humane Society @ Happy Tails Books

  13. Cindy Hauf says:

    I know that this book is to help people establish and run successful rescues, and I did notice the section of rescues as they communicate with Animal Control in their area. These facilities will sometimes “label” a dog aggressive from the few minutes they drag it into its kennel. Once labeled that way, many rescues will not take that dog just going by what the Animal Control facility has stated about that dog. I think there should be a process that is designed by an animal behaviorialist in testing a dogs temperment before the animal is given what basically is a “dealth sentence”. Dogs enter these basic facilities scared, sick, injured, they go from being “fluffy” to being “dog number 55555”. I believe there should be more investigation done by the rescue organization for the evaluation of temperament. Lots of preconceptions are made by breed, and by the dogs attitude in the first half hour in the facility. I dont know how this would fit into your manual for establishing rescues really, but it is a practice that is very unfair to the dog or cat, or hamster, whatever animal is given up.

  14. Hi Cindy,
    You make a great point. Unfortunately, there is a system many shelters/animal control use, but it’s faulty. Have you read Redemption by Nathan Winograd? Highly recommend it. He talked about it in there. I wish I could recall more info about it off the top of my head, but the best I can do right now is encourage you (and everyone) to read the book. I really learned a lot. I don’t have a suggestion for a better temperament testing system, but I do want to implore rescues to take in dogs that are deemed “aggressive.” So often it is situational.

  15. C Hipke says:

    Animal Rescues of Michigan would love to help in anyway that we can.

  16. Thanks for writing! We welcome your input. Please feel free to go through all the posts subsequent to this one about the Best Practices Manual and share your comments.

  17. Karen Meader says:

    I am the National Adoption Program Manager for Petco and I hope you will include a suggestion that the rescue organizations consider holding regular adoption events at Petco stores as we promote adoption opportunities to our customers daily through the promotion of adoption cats and rabbits from partnering rescues that are housed in our stores daily, adoption events on the weekends attended by local rescues, National Adoption Weekends every month in which we promote adoption opportunities at our stores through print, social media and in-store promotional material along with pet vendor support, Think Adoption First kiosks in every Petco store with an up to date listing of animals for adoption on, donation of cat and rabbit adoption habitats, food, supply and money from the Petco Foundation and from Petco stores. We have also partner with to promote the volunteer needs of adoption organizations in our community on our websites, in our stores and to our associates.

    Many rescues do not know that Petco has so much to offer and that we can be used as a venue to showcase not only their pets, but the need for volunteers to our animal loving customers.

    I would also like to have a copy of the book when it is finished. How can I order one?

    Thank you,

  18. Hi Karen, thanks for the info about Petco! The first edition of the Best Practices Manual is now available for free download or purchase ($29.95 – comes with invaluable editable documents that will save any rescuer tons of time) at . I hope you’ll check out a copy. As we revise the book for the second edition, we’ll double check our marketing section and see if we need to add anything. In the meantime, I hope rescuers find this great information here and get in contact with their local stores.

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