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Dog Rescue 101

If you’ve ever wondered about dog rescue or have a passion to help dogs in need, here’s an overview of how things work with our local rescue and some ways you can help.

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Animal welfare groups have been in existence in the US since the mid 1800’s. Over the years, Americans have become much more aware of animal welfare issues as they have become part of our public consciousness. According to the Humane Society, the number of cats and dogs in our households has more than doubled in the past four decades, while animal shelter euthanasia rates have dropped by more than 60%. That's progress, but the US still has a large animal overpopulation problem, and sadly there are between 7 and 11 million unwanted animals euthanized every year.

 Mutts Matter Rescue is a 100%-volunteer non-profit dog rescue. We are run by volunteers who love animals and want to make a difference by helping these forgotten and discarded dogs find wonderful new families. Our ultimate goal is to save the lives of dogs and educate our community about the virtues and need for dog rescue.

Below is a brief overview on how rescue works and the process for adopting one of our pups in need.



Dogs find their way into rescue through several different paths. Mutts Matter works in conjunction with animal shelters, other organizations, and good Samaritans to help save dogs on death row, strays on the street, and dogs living in unsafe conditions.

Dogs of all ages, sizes, and breeds come into rescue, from mutts to purebreds. Most, through no fault of their own, end up confused and alone in a shelter. Why? An owner dies or moves somewhere that doesn't allow dogs, an owner adopts a cute puppy on impulse but is not ready for the amount of work and cost involved with caring for a dog for 10 to 15 years, or a new baby enters the family and they decide they no longer have time for their four-legged companion. Too often, owners surrender their dogs because it was just not convenient for them. It's an unfortunate predicament. 

One of the biggest misconceptions some people have about rescued dogs is that they are somehow broken or more challenging, but the reality is that dogs are very resilient, and they quickly adapt to a new environment and respond to a loving home. Rescue dogs from all sorts of circumstances can transition into a well-adjusted, loving member of your family. These are healthy, adoptable dogs whose only fault is that they don't have a place to call home.



Dogs coming into the rescue are taken immediately to one of our veterinary clinic partners to have a full health evaluation. They are spayed or neutered, brought up to date on vaccines, and microchipped before being placed with a new family.

 Mutts Matter requires that ALL of our dogs be spayed or neutered to address the overpopulation issue we are trying to combat, and to ensure that none can be used for breeding in the future. A spayed or neutered dog is often healthier and usually will live a longer life too, so it’s a win-win. Mutts Matter dogs are also evaluated for temperament and personality. This helps us to place them in homes that are well-suited to their needs, and the needs of their future owners. 



Rescue dogs taken in by Mutts Matter are placed in one of our volunteer foster homes, where they are given temporary shelter, care, and an enormous amount of love until Mutts Matter can find them a good home.

Fostering is the backbone of rescue. We can only save as many dogs as we have foster families - regular people with a little extra time and space - available to welcome dogs in need into their homes. Our foster homes serve as a transition from a bad situation to a new hopeful life. As the dog begins to realize they are safe and loved, they begin to trust and open up, and we can get a better sense of their personality, level of socialization, and understand the type of home and family that will best suit them.

 Everyone benefits in the foster process. The foster family enjoys a rewarding experience and is able to see real, tangible results from the time and love they invest. The foster dog gets a break from a stressful life in a shelter or other unfortunate circumstances, and starts to learn how to be part of a family. The new adopters get a dog that’s better socialized and adapted to home life, and receives first-hand insight and guidance from the foster family who has lived with and often rehabilitated their dog.



The first step is to complete an Adoption Application online. You can apply for a specific dog, or apply to be approved as a Mutts Matter adoptive family and work with us to find the right pup for you.

Once your application is completed, your references are checked, and then a Mutts Matter volunteer will schedule a phone interview to discuss your application. This process helps us get a better feel for the type of dog that will best fit your family and lifestyle. 

The final step is a Home Visit. A Mutts Matter volunteer will visit your home in person to meet you and get a sense of the living arrangements. This is to verify your home is a good, safe environment for one of our pups and also gives us an opportunity to answer any final questions you may have.

Once the home visit is complete and you are approved, we connect you with the foster family and have you meet your pup of interest to see if it’s a match.



Operating a rescue can be a very expensive undertaking. Adoption fees help cover only a fraction of our costs, which include routine veterinary checkups, microchipping, shelter fees, fuel for transporting new rescues, food and supplies for all of our dogs in foster care, temporary boarding facilities, behavioral training when needed, and supplemental or emergency medical treatment, which can sometimes run into the thousands. We also have basic administrative costs that include liability insurance, adoption marketing materials, and website hosting.

As Mutts Matter is a non-profit and an all-volunteer organization, we rely on donations and support from our community to continue our work on behalf of the animals. Dedicated volunteers are the lifeblood of our rescue. Whether helping with transports, application interviews, home visits, fostering, or fund-raising events, there are many ways to get involved and help save dogs in need.


If you would like to learn more or get involved with dog rescue, you can fill out our  Volunteer Application or contact Suzanne at  suzanne@muttsmatterrescue.com

The dogs featured in this article’s photos are all in need of loving homes. To learn more about Pumpkin, Comet, Elmer, Bo, Toby or any of our pups, check out Mutts Matter’s  Available Dogs page.

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