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What you Need to Know about Rescues and Shelters

By 04/20/2014December 16th, 2022Adopt a Lab

Posted by: Team by Andy Wollen

At, we urge folks seeking to add a Lab to their life to first explore adopting a pet through a shelter or rescue group. The Humane Society estimates that an animal in a shelter is euthanized every 8 seconds. That means in the time it takes to read this first paragraph, an animal has been put to sleep.

According to American Animal Welfare The Top Ten Reasons dogs are relinquished to shelters are:

  1. Moving
  2. Landlord not allowing pet
  3. Too many animals in household
  4. Cost of pet maintenance
  5. Owner having personal problems
  6. Inadequate facilities
  7. No homes available for litter mates
  8. Having no time for pet
  9. Pet Illness(es)
  10. Biting

Don’t assume a dog is “bad” just because it’s been taken in by a rescue group or shelter. Odds are the human owner had challenges he just couldn’t overcome!

What’s the difference between a Rescue Group and a Shelter?

Rescue Groups have a mission of “rescuing” dogs, often a specific breed, from a number of sources. Volunteers from these groups may visit shelters and bring home dogs they believe are the most adoptable or at risk for being euthanized. Owners who can no longer care for their dog may also initiate contact, preferring to surrender the dog to a rescue group rather than a shelter. Volunteers may also be involved in rescuing dogs from high-risk, abusive environments.

Once in the custody of the rescue group, dogs move into foster homes where they get lots of love and attention until a forever home is found. Spending this kind of quality time with the rescued dog really allows volunteers to develop insight into the dog’s temperament, quirks, health issues, and needs. This is incredibly helpful when it comes time to match a dog with the right family.

Many rescue groups require the dog be returned directly to them and not to a shelter if the match is not right for the pooch or the family.

Shelters are facilities that may be run by a municipality or a private group. Dogs in shelters have been given up by their owners or picked-up as strays.

There are two categories of shelters: kill, and no-kill. Those labels pretty much sum up how they operate. Kill facilities will put a dog to sleep if they’re not adopted within a set period of time. No Kill facilities will care for dogs until they’re adopted or reach the end of their natural lives.

Sometimes dogs who haven’t been adopted may be shuffled to other shelters in hope a match will be found. When looking for a dog, it’s important to know if you’re working with a kill or no-kill shelter. The clock may be ticking on a wonderful dog you were meant to have!

Whether you’re seeking to adopt from a rescue group or a shelter there are lots of steps involved, but the first step is educating yourself. Most groups like to send dogs home with a local family so start by researching shelters or rescue groups near you. A lot of the initial legwork can be done from your computer.

Most organizations now have a website so take a look at the following:

  • Individual adoption policies. Each organization has their own rules.
  • Application. This will give you a good idea of what the shelter or group are looking for in an adoptive family. The application may be long, but it is necessary.
  • Adoption fee. If you consider the adoption fee to be high, consider the cost of owning a dog and make sure a Lab won’t be a budget buster. Fees help pay for the costs of caring for the dog, medical treatment, and ensuring a healthy environment prior to adoption.
  • Rules about spaying/neutering, microchipping. Some organizations require adopted pets to be spayed or neutered. Microchipping for identification may also be required. Special discounts may be available for new pet families.

The Process
The most important part of adopting a dog may be patience. You may be eager to start dishing out the treats to a sweet Lab, but shelters and rescue groups are dedicated to finding dogs Furever Homes, not just any homes, so they want to get it right.

The adoption process may involve the following:

  • Home visit. Meant to ensure you can provide a safe environment with enough room for your pup.
  • Reference check. Just like any position of responsibility, your character counts!
  • Dog Meetups. Having any dog you may already own meet the potential adopted dog to check for compatibility.
  • Family visit. See how your future pooch gets along with the family they’ll be living with.scapbook - puppy needs home

Most rescue groups are run by volunteers with responsibilities outside of dog rescue work so it may take some time to get through all the steps. Also, adoption isn’t on a first come first serve basis, it’s on a best match basis. There may be a waiting list of folks who want a Lab but the person and situation determined to be the best fit will get the nod. Hey, nothing personal; it’s all about what’s best for a particular dog.

When it’s your time to bring your new dog home, you’ll know it was worth the paperwork and the wait.

Join The Fight To End Puppy Mills
At, one of our goals is to eliminate puppy mills. Adopting a dog through a rescue group or shelter means you’ve joined the fight. Puppy mills are inhumane operations that exist only to make money with no thought to the well-being of the dogs. Dogs often live in horrible conditions and are forced to produce far too many litters. According to, retail pets stores in the United States sell 500,000 puppies each year. These sales keep puppy mills in business. That’s why we once again urge you to adopt a dog from a shelter or rescue group.

The Result
Hopefully, your patience and diligence will pay off with the addition of a Lab to your family. Be prepared for lots of kisses, puddle jumping, wags, walks, and quite possibly snoring. We know the folks who work so hard to find the right homes for dogs are doing their best and we salute their commitment. At we’ll continue our work with the goal that every dog that needs a home gets a great one filled with enough love to last their lifetime.