Just about any animal lover finds a reason to protect and save or rescue stray animals like dogs and cats. If you are one of these people you may think about beginning a shelter for animals. You can go for two or ten pets or more depending on your budget and funds. With the extensive internet and social networking sites it is easy to put the word out and find good permanent home for these animals. Here is the way to achieve this goal.
1) When you start a rescue for animals you should first make a decision what type of animal you want to have. You can choose from horses, pigs, cats, dogs or even rabbits or a combination of them like big and little animals. You should choose one you know about or really like a lot. As they all have different breeds you should also decide if you want to be breed specific.
2) Make an initial budget which includes your funding, personnel-paid or volunteer, housing and location to figure how many animals you can take in. Expansion is always an option in the future.
3) You can operate this shelter as a private enterprise or do a not for profit type of operation which requires incorporation called 501c3. Incorporating as a not for profit animal rescue will have a higher front end cost because it costs money to actually incorporate properly but it can garner benefits in the long run. You can get tax deductible donations plus get a corporate sponsor or more. Other organizations or individuals don’t like to donate money if they can’t deduct it somehow which means a tax write off. If these donations are under twenty five thousand dollars there are no tax forms to file.
4) Just as with any other new venture you have to research what your are about to begin so you don’t break any laws. Also you need to have the paperwork correct to avoid any problems with the IRS and the local and state authorities. You may need to get certain approvals and licenses to operate legally. For any corporation you have to list corporate officers and start a checking account. There are some online resources that are good such as Guidestar and Legalzoom. Researching on these is free then you just pay to create the organization legally. You can list your organization information and updates on these and refer your donors to them to read about your organization which may generate some good donations.
5) You can incorporate on your own by using a website like Attorney/Alternative which helps you through the incorporation process. Or you can pay for an attorney who specializes in this type of organization. Which ever you use you will need corporate bylaws, a Federal and state tax ID and articles of incorporation.
6) Then you need to have a plan to get animals into your shelter. And you generally can’t do it all by yourself. Shelters have euthanasia guidelines so get to know which shelters do that after so many days then visit them just before that date and take them into your shelter. You can go after strays or puppy mills or abandoned animals or even run an ad stating you are open to take in these animals.
7) You then need a housing and sleeping plan. Are you going to crate them or will they have individual runs? Do you need a kennel structure? Foster homes are a housing option but that method requires some form of predetermined payment for the service.
8) Then you need to have these animals adopted and how will you screen prospective adopters? Certainly you should get together a questionnaire asking about small children in the prospective home and other pets. Also ask where the animal live and sleep. Animals have different personalities and requirements and they need to be matched to the prospective home. Visiting the potential home may be an option.
9) Have a legal enforceable contract that the adoptee must sign. Include neuter or spay clause, a reclaim the pet clause if there is abuse or no care, housing and feed provisions or any restrictions you might like to see. Just remember if you have a contract you must be able to determine if the adoptee meets the clauses so plan a follow up visit schedule.
10) Determine the fee to adopt. Will it be sliding or set or by age and income?
11) Adoption fees won’t pay all of the bills so plan on some forms of fundraising. Senior dogs and those that require veterinarian care cost money to maintain. You can host benefit dinners or host a walk-a-thon. Or have a dog day and get lots of donations from corporate donors that can put their name on the booth or at the entry. Corporations like tax deductible type of donations or sponsor type programs for non-profits. Chipin.com is a resource that allows a person to register to raise some funding for certain animals requiring emergency care. You can get an easy click icon where visitors to your website can do directly to a donation page. This website records funds received and the total goal still to be reached.
12) Use one of the social networking sites as a resource to advertise your animal rescue. This includes MySpace or facebook. They attract a lot of traffic and may get you some good donations or some adoptions or even some pets for the shelter. Keep adding animal related organizations and individuals as your friends. Keep it current with new pictures of your animals or specific requirements of your animals. Cross post bulletins with other websites and social networking sites.
13) There are some well visited websites where you can put your animals up to be adopted like Adopt a Pet.com has animals from the US and Canada, Pets 991 is for the US and Petfinder.com. covers all of North America. These are triggered by zip code so your shelter will pop up when a nearby zip code is input.