It takes a village…
Rescue work requires a lot of people and has many moving parts in order to save dogs in need. Many people ask the rescue, “how can I get involved?“ or “how can I help?“ Which I usually reply with, “How do you want to help?”
Many people are often surprised that there are more ways to help than just fostering a dog. Sure, fostering is the largest component of getting dogs off the streets or out of bed situations; however, there are many other key roles a person can play to help animals.
In my experience…
I originally started helping with rescue pups as a social media coordinator back in 2020 when OC Pom Rescue started. I drove to fosters’ homes, captured photos, and wrote up bios for potential adopters to learn more about their prospective pet. As OC Pom Rescue grew, my role began to change and expand: they needed a website and blog, so that was my next project! Creating all of this was definitely eye-opening, because rescue dogs were being put on display in a different way than what I was used to. Dogs were bought at stores, right? That was what I had thought growing up, so as a team, we wanted to change that conception on dog adoption and be a resource for both experienced and new dog owners.
And how does a rescue do that? THEY USE THE TALENTS OF PASSIONATE INDIVIDUALS.
Sure, experienced dog rescuers know the lay of the land and how to adopt dogs out. However, it comes to a point where someone is in the community for so long that they don’t quite understand the perspective of those who just want to get started helping dogs, who just want to adopt a dog, or who are trying to learn more. It is easy to have an idea of who the "ideal" home is for dogs in general and only use those people to foster or volunteer with. But that doesn’t match the unique, reliable people that make up a community. And if you cannot identify with your community, how can you help others adopt or learn more about the growing need for support for homeless animals?
That is why it is so important that advocate groups welcome ideas and change. Isn’t the point of rescuing animals that we change how people view animal ownership and make rescue resources accessible? To do that, you need skilled, passionate individuals who have ideas on how to make resources available.
With that said, how can YOU help a rescue?
Volunteer! Contact your desired rescue group, either dm or email, and feel them out. How do they respond to you? What do they need? What is their volunteer community like? How long do volunteers typically last in the rescue? If you have ideas, share them and ask how you can get started. Some rescues, like OC Pom, work virtually so their application and communication may all be online. Make sure to check out their websites to get a feel of what their mission is and where they allocate resources.
Transport! Short on time, but want to help in a physical way? Help transport dogs from shelters, foster homes, vetting appointments, and adoption events. Some fosters have tight schedules and are just a home for the dog to decompress and feel love, so rescues often need people to drive dogs to their appointments.
Donate! All rescues rely on regular donations to continually fund vetting, transport, and living expenses. Dogs need food, beds, blankets, toys, a harness and leash, and training instruments. These dogs are going through a major transition period and having access to living necessities makes their decompression smoother.
Get the word out! Rescues like OC Pom Rescue greatly benefit from reposts or shares to make their dogs get more exposure. It takes one adopter to give an animal a forever home, and they may not know they exist until one day it pops up on their timeline.
Adopt, Don’t Shop! Adoption saves a dog from homelessness, neglect, and abuse. A common myth is that rescues are overcrowded with senior dogs or ones with major behavioral issues, but that could not be farther from the truth! Whatever you are looking for in a forever companion is out there somewhere. Sometimes you’ll find that perfect fit right away, and other times it may take a minute to find the perfect match. Either way, adoption gives an animal a chance to be genuinely loved and know the security of a home that will remain with them for the rest of their life.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions and get involved. Look for a community that aligns with your values and is willing to support your advocacy journey. It can be emotional seeing the dogs absolutely transform, so finding that right group to become part of and make a difference means allowing yourself to choose the people who you surround yourself with. You should also be in a space that is utilizing your strengths, because rescues really exist for the benefit of animals in need.