About Rescues and Shelters

PupQuest wants you to make ADOPTION your first OPTION!

Things to Consider When Adopting

Open Admission and No-Kill SheltersWith over 30 years of experience with animal shelters, the professionals at PupQuest have developed a point of view. We hope you will find the following information helpful. In the end, your adoption decision is up to you.

Shelters vs. Rescues: What’s the Difference?


Actual places you can visit. Most animals for adoption are in the building, though some may be in foster homes. The telephone number for the organization is listed.


Dogs are often in foster homes, there usually isn’t a centrally located building. They often focus on a specific breed or importing pups from far away places. If phone numbers are available, they are generally for individuals as opposed to the organization.

These distinctions are general and quite variable. Don’t get hung up on them, the important stuff is below!

Adopt A Dog

Please Consider Adopting an Adult

We know you are on a “pup” quest, but have you considered getting an adolescent or adult dog? Adults make up the majority of dogs in shelters and they come with a lot of perks! So many, we can’t even list them. Check out…

Reasons to Adopt an Adult Dog

Open Admission and No-Kill Shelters

Rescue Dogs
We will not spend a lot of time debating this very controversial subject. The words “no kill” are powerful, and it’s not very often that people talk about the impact of this noble goal on the less-than-perfect homeless dogs and the open shelters committed to rescuing them. Let us give you some facts and you can decide what works for you.

Open admission animal shelters:

These shelters help all dogs and families in their region. They believe that an animal “shelter” is for all animals in need. This open-door philosophy comes with a down side: not ALL dogs are adoptable. Some are too sick and some have behavioral problems that would make them dangerous to place in the average household. In an effort to be responsible not only to dogs, but also to society in general, open admission shelters may perform humane euthanasia.

Nothing is more heartbreaking than a family in crisis with a dog they can’t get into a shelter because all the surrounding shelters are “No Kill” and it doesn’t fit their criteria. Where are they supposed to go?

Limited admission (AKA”no-kill”) animal shelters:.

These shelters generally take in and help only adoptable dogs/pups and stop taking in any animals when they are full. They turn away many families needing help by referring them to “open shelters”. This greatly shifts the burden of homeless animals to the open shelters.

People are usually well aware that there are both good and bad breeders, but did you know shelters and rescues are of varying quality, too?

PupQuest can help you learn how reputable shelters and rescues should operate and how to identify the ones to avoid. Yes, we hate to say it, but there are shelters and rescues you should avoid.

If you find a dog you are interested in adopting online, contact the shelter/rescue/foster home and visit the pup in person!

Petfinder can be a great resource, but they can’t possibly screen or monitor every organization listed on their site. This is why it’s still important to visit the shelter.

41% of people who adopted their dogs from shelters, rescues, or friends did no research before getting a dog. If you’re on PupQuest, you’re already on your way to bettering that statistic!

Tips to help you distinguish between great shelters and those you’re better off avoiding:

Magnifying GlassWhat Reputable Shelters and Rescues Do

  • Encourage and require you to meet the puppy/dog in person before committing to adoption.
  • Conduct Behavior Evaluations
    Evaluating a dog’s personality to see if it will be a good fit with your family is important. Some shelters may perform traditional temperament tests, but these should not be the only criteria used. Inquire why they feel a particular dog would be a good match for your family…or not. These folks know what they are doing, listen to them!!

  • Take a dog back at any point in his life.

    Return Policy

    Reputable shelters and rescues will take a dog back for any reason at any time, and this should be stated in their adoption contract. Watch out for organizations that won’t take a dog back after a certain period of time or under certain conditions or have “first refusal”. “First refusal” means you are obligated to tell them if you are giving up the pet but they are not obligated to take it back! Some shelters insist you pay very high return fees.

  • Spay and neuter all dogs before sending them home or take a large deposit to be returned when the surgery is done within a designated time frame. Reputable shelters follow up to be sure the surgeries have been done.
  • Keep animals up-to-date on vaccinations and dewormings.
  • Have potential adopters fill out an adoption application.
  • Charge justifiable adoption fees.

    Adoption Fees

    Adoption fees vary. Shelters and rescues use their adoption fees to cover the cost of caring for the dogs, including spay/neuter. In fact, most shelters lose money on adoptions because the adoption fee only covers part of the cost of the animals’ care. Disreputable organizations may have very high adoption fees. It’s good to be on the alert: if you think a fee is too much, find out from the staff what their fee covers. Isn’t it cheaper to get a “free puppy”? Sure, if you never intend to take care of it!! Since you have taken the time to do research on PupQuest we know you are trying to do the right thing. Puppies need a series of veterinary visits that include vaccines, deworming, spay/neuter, etc. Vet bills for multiple puppy visits add up. Reputable shelters have relationships with local veterinarians or have vets on staff who provide these services at discounted rates and these savings are passed onto you. Depending upon where you live you will likely save 50% or more on this initial veterinary care!

  • Have clean facilities.
Magnifying GlassWhat Disreputable Shelters and Rescues Do

  • Won’t allow you to visit the pup/dog you’re interested in before you must commit to adoption.
  • Don’t do any sort of true temperament test.
  • Won’t take an animal back under certain conditions or at all.
  • Don’t spay/neuter their animals before sending them home. Or aren’t taking refundable deposits.
  • Don’t keep their animals up to date on vaccinations and dewormings.
  • Have no adoption application.
  • Charge excessive “Transport fees”.

    Excessive “Transport Fees”

    Some shelters and rescues will ask for money to cover travel expenses so a dog can be shipped to you. Be wary of requests like these, some people who consider themselves rescuers have been known to charge much more than would be fair.

  • Keep dogs in unsanitary facilities.
  • Conduct adoptions in parking lots! Some reputable shelters have easily identified mobile adoption vans. Beware of unmarked vehicles.

A Word on Adoption Applications

The shelter/rescue should have you fill out an application and provide information such as where you live, if your landlord allows pets (if you rent), where the dog will be when you leave him alone, etc. When you’re losing patience filling out this detailed form, please try to remember reputable shelters are trying to protect their dogs from the fear, confusion and heartbreak of being given up again. Careful matchmaking benefits both you and the dog!