Best Practices Manual

BestPractices-3The 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 that are operated out of people’s homes, with a network of transport and foster volunteers who support the immense number of animals these rescues save 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 use as a reference.*

To create Road to Rescue, Up For Pups collaborated with numerous experienced, diverse private rescue organizations and animal welfare societies. After developing the project outline, each rescue wrote about two or three topics, which were subsequently posted on the Up For Pups blog for public discussion. The beginning of the discussion can be found at The entire data-collection and editing period spanned six months, and Up For Pups continues to monitor comments on these blog posts for information to add to this manual.

The purpose of this manual is to

  • Help new rescues “do it right” from the beginning.
  • Give existing rescues a “measuring stick” and guide for maximum effectiveness.
  • Present a foundation for evaluating rescue effectiveness for those interested in donating and providing grants.

Read The National Pet Advocacy Examiner’s review

Careful observation of the practices outlined in this manual will help rescues save the most lives, spend the least money, and ensure a good experience for both volunteers and rescued animals. Up For Pups recognizes that dog rescue is not a one-size-fits-all effort and that some upstanding rescues may have policies that differ from those listed herein, but regardless of size or breed, some practices are better than others, which is what we’ve set out to highlight.

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

Road to Rescue: Best Practices Manual includes the following chapters:

  • Introduction and Definitions
  • Chapter 1: A Brief History of Dog Rescue Organizations
  • Chapter 2: Rescues and Shelters
  • Chapter 3: Starting a Rescue
  • Chapter 4: Homeless Dogs Needing Help
  • Chapter 5: Legal Concerns
  • Chapter 6: Veterinary Care
  • Chapter 7: Fundraising and Donations
  • Chapter 8: Managing Costs and Time
  • Chapter 9: Marketing
  • Chapter 10: Volunteers
  • Chapter 11: Foster Home Management
  • Chapter 12: Adoption Process
  • Chapter 13: Transporting Animals
  • Chapter 14: Humane Education
  • Chapter 15: Special Situations
  • Appendix A: Document Examples and Resources (separate file)
  • Appendix B: Generic Documents (separate file; only available with paperback version)


The paperback version and Kindle/Nook eBook versions includes the book, over 100 pages of document examples, and access to the following documents in .doc format for your use:

  • Articles of Organization for a 501(c)3
  • Bylaws
  • Conflict of Interest policy
  • Surrender contract/form
  • Intake/evaluation form (should only be used after a dog is evaluated using your rescue’s evaluation procedure)
  • Volunteer/foster application
  • Foster contract
  • Foster welcome kit template
  • Adoption application
  • Adoption contract

At $29.95, the paperback version is a deal. Payment for the paperback version of this book is processed by Happy Tails Books via Paypal, Amazon Checkout, or credit card.

Download Free eBook

The eBook version of Road to Rescue is free. It gives you access to everything included in the paperback version except the generic documents for your use.

Please fill out the following fields to receive download instructions for this best practices manual:

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18 Responses to Best Practices Manual

  1. Pingback: Best Practices Manual: It’s here! |

  2. Mary Evans says:

    This book is exactly what we’ve been looking for… We are an established rescue who needs to set up procedures to help our volunteers have a smooth process in what we do.

    Thank you so much for the Free Download!

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  4. Donna says:

    Wonderful information that I wish I had my hands on back in 1997 when Clay County Boxer Rescue, aka South Dakota Boxer Rescue, now and forever – Northern Plains Boxer Rescue organized. This is a MUST have for any person/group considering starting a rescue organization. It is also very informative for us who have been in the trenches over the years.
    Kudos to all of you who put the time, energy and effort into this manual.

  5. Great manual for those who don’t even know where to begin! Thanks so much!

  6. Thanks, Mary! I hope this book helps you with those procedures. Please let me know how it goes for you.

  7. Donna, thanks for your comment. I’m glad this manual is helpful for established rescuers, too. I think we gathered a lot of useful information from the diverse rescues that participated in the creation of the manual. I’m grateful they were willing to share.

  8. Thanks, Lorry. Are you interested in starting a rescue? Best of luck to you. I hope the manual helps guide your decision-making.

  9. I am so excited to get my paperback copy of the manual! I had a really great time being part of this project, learned so much and can’t wait to share that new knowledge with everyone I know! Everyone interested in rescue, whether starting a new rescue or looking for ideas to improve an existing rescue, should read this book!

  10. I’m excited for you to receive it! Unfortunately we were slightly delayed in our layout department, but the manuals have all shipped earlier this week. Of course, they’ll continue to be available for free download or purchase at . Thanks a ton for helping us with it, Shereen! Oh, and thanks, too, for late night parvo puppy “tech support.” 🙂

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  12. Jackie Roach says:

    I recently purchased the Dog Rescue Best Practice Manual book and love it. I wish I’d have known about it when we started building our organization – but we’re still really new and soaking in the information for the good. We are implementing many of the things I learned in the book and rewriting some of our pllicies becasue of it. I carry your manual with me everywhere and refer to it often. Thank you for putting it together for those of us who want to do things the right way.

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  15. Lynda says:

    I volunteer at a shelter that is making substantive changes, implementing a volunteer program, writing new policies and procedures, etc. Would this book be helpful for me/us?
    Thank you.

  16. Absolutely! The manual includes indispensable information about volunteer and foster home management, including how to find volunteers and keep them happy. Additionally, the marketing section will help any organization move needy animals along more quickly while still maintaining a high standard of adopter quality. The book version includes many editable documents, including foster welcome kit pages, but you could definitely check out the free download before deciding on whether you need to shell out the cash for the paperback book.

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