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New Resources Help Empower Pet Adopters and Expose Risky Rescue Practices

Vancouver, BC: Paws for Hope Animal Foundation and HugaBull Advocacy & Rescue Society caution against “flipper” rescues, mass adoption events, and unethical rescue practices.

BC animal charities are urging the public to use a new ‘responsible rescue checklist’ when adopting a rescue pet.

The new checklist helps potential adopters to ask the right questions, look for screening procedures, and avoid rescues that try to rush them into a decision or use emotional appeals to drive adoptions.

The checklist is the result of a partnership between Paws for Hope Animal Foundation and HugaBull Advocacy & Rescue Society ( By offering this resource, the charities hope that members of the public will experience successful animal adoptions and avoid some of the risky activities that are unfortunately common in an unregulated environment.

Kathy Powelson, Executive Director of Paws for Hope Animal Foundation, explains: “We know that many rescue organisations mean well, but they sometimes cut corners in a bid to adopt as many animals as possible. Sadly not all rescue organisations are the same. By creating a checklist, we want to help people to make the right choice and steer them towards ethical organizations.”

Each year, thousands of BC families choose to adopt a pet. With this popularity, dozens of rescues pop up every year, many of which are bringing in large numbers of dogs from other countries.

April Fahr, President of HugaBull Advocacy & Rescue Society, adds: “We regularly hear from people who simply wanted to help a homeless dog, and were cheated by an unethical rescue. They end up managing significant issues they did not sign up for – dogs that are sick, aggressive, or have major behavioural issues. We find that the rescue did not adequately screen the dogs or adopter prior to placement, and they provide no support after the adoption is finalized.”

If a rescue won’t take the dog back, a family is left with very few resources. Local shelters do not have a mandate to accept a dog if they are full or don’t consider it adoptable.

“That means you can end up with a really big responsibility on your hands. Some behavioural and medical problems are very emotionally draining, very expensive, and can turn your life upside down,” says Fahr.

In addition to creating the checklist, both charities are warning against mass adoption events at pet stores or “adoption parties” – which can be very stressful for dogs that have already been through a lot.

Powelson says: “Adoption is a commitment of up to 15-20 years. It is a decision that deserves deep consideration and time. By taking the time to use the checklist, you can make sure that your adoption brings happiness – for you and your rescue animal.”

Paws for Hope Animal Foundation’s mission is to shift the culture of companion animal welfare in British Columbia by creating new models of practice and remediating the underlying causes of harm through cross sector collaboration, education and advocacy

HugABull is one of BC’s most established rescue, in operation since 2003. In addition to foster and adoption placement they have a mandate to educate the public around responsible pet ownership, ethical rescue, and breed-neutral, evidence-based pet legislation.

Contact info

Kathy Powelson
[email protected]

April Fahr
[email protected]

Responsible rescue checklist
Mass adoptions
Dogs at adoption events
Good intentions, bad results

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