How To Start A Dog Rescue Shelter And Make A REAL Lasting Change In The Rescues’ Lives


Starting your own dog rescue shelter and nonprofit organization is a worthy endeavor. With all of the excitement of the opportunity to make a difference, you must refrain from rushing into it. This is an enormous undertaking that requires lots of research, planning, and dedication.

Research Now Means Fewer Missteps Later

The first thing you must do is research. This should include volunteering at a local shelter. This will provide a true insight into the business operations of running a shelter. You must also understand that this is a business and with that, you must decide what need are you planning to address.

That all important question can be answered by researching the needs of your community. There must be a clear understanding of what your community needs. There should also be a clear understanding of what is the underlying cause of the animal overpopulation. Since you have already addressed which type of animals you plan to rescue, you should narrow your focus. The involvement of your community is also essential to your success as an organization. Community involvement is crucial to your business and this relationship should be cultivated prior to actually starting your nonprofit.

Collaboration is a word you should become very comfortable with. It is the cornerstone of shelters and other nonprofits. These types of organizations frequently work together in an effort to stretch their limited resources. There is always a common goal at the center of their efforts.

Working Together for the Common Good of Animals

If you do not have a background in business, then you should read up on managing a nonprofit to at least get the basics. However, your research should not stop there. You will need to continue your self-education throughout this endeavor. The organization you are creating may be nonprofit, but you will still need funds and a financial structure.

Another equally important item that should be on your agenda is location. This is very critical to whether or not this dream of yours can come to fruition.  This as you might have guessed, requires strategic planning. You must address the number of dogs you are going to be able to house at any one time. This number must be carefully considered and accurate.

Having a clear picture of the scope of assistance your organization will provide will give you the answer to the question of possible locations. There is research into your local zoning laws that are also required. You must assess the proposed property and determine if existing structures can be refitted for your needs or if new construction is required. Finding the answer to these questions will lead to a better understanding of the initial resources required to officially open your new dog rescue shelter.

Never Let the Business of Rescuing Overshadow Why You are Doing it

dogs love to chase yellow balls on green grass under a blue sky

There is a lot of work and planning that goes into opening any business. A rescue shelter for dogs is no different. The two things to remember is one, never forget why you are doing this and two, the volunteers are your most valuable resource.

One last and important point, stay informed. No business lasts for very long that isn’t in the know of their customers. A rescue shelter is no different. You should consider attending conferences held by other humane organizations and put an emphasis on participation. Interact with these fellow organizations and share what you have learned. Knowledge truly is power and it will provide you with an invaluable tool for success.

To recap and provide a more detailed list, here is an outline:

  1. Research and extensive planning
  2. Draft a mission statement
  3. Set clear and precise goals
  4. Form a board of directors
  5. File all appropriate legal documentation
  6. Properly manage finances
  7. Clearly outline policies and procedures
  8. Cultivate support in the community
  9. Inject your business with qualified people (volunteers)
  10. Be humane
  11. Continuously self-assess the business
  12. Always be ready and willing to make necessary changes