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Faux Rescues

New Jersey is home to hundreds of wonderful legitimate and reputable rescue groups and organizations (many of which are breed-specific), whose priorities are the health and welfare of unwanted or homeless animals and finding them permanent, loving homes. There are also a growing number of unscrupulous groups and individuals posing as rescuers. These fly-by-night groups dupe unsuspecting adopters by selling shelter pets (or animals they obtain for free in online or classified ads) for profit.

The Good

Operating 'by the book', reputable rescues ensure that animals in their care are healthy, temperament tested, and spayed and neutered prior to adoption. Good rescues also properly screen adopters and charge reasonable adoption fees that do not rival pet store prices!

The Bad
We are aware of several individuals who are known to frequent puppy mills, mostly in Pennsylvania, buying what they then unabashedly advertise as "puppy mill rescues", as well as some who buy slightly older, unsold puppies from pet shops for resale, billed as "rescued puppies." This is certainly not rescue, it's dog brokering, plain and simple!

The Ugly
Fake or shady rescuers who sell shelter pets for profit are adversely affecting both animals and adopters and betray the trust of an unsuspecting public. Many brokers and unscrupulous rescuers hide behind PetFinder and to sell dogs. Unfortunately because of the volume of groups posting on these sites, it impossible for them all to be fully vetted.

If you visit a page with only pure breed or hybrid ("designer") small dogs & puppies, you have likely found one of these fraudulent rescues. They buy from puppy millers or backyard breeders to resell to the unsuspecting public for exorbitant adoption fees. The puppy mills will continue to thrive as long as anyone, including rescuers, buys from them. Furthermore, these so-called rescuers offer little or no guarantee for the health of the puppies they sell under the guise of adoption. With no money trail and improper health records, the adopters wind up being similarly defrauded as many pet shop consumers. The tragic consequence is that many adopters end up with sick or dying dogs and are left to foot hefty vet bills, with no recourse from the "rescuer".

Individuals and groups who advertise as a "no-kill" rescue or shelter are becoming increasingly common to garner more sympathy, interest and support. Ironically, their "no-kill" mission fails when it's discovered that dogs have died of Parvo or distemper while caged long-term in someone's basement. Non-profit or a federally approved 501(c)3 doesn't necessarily mean legitimate or reputable. Neither does the presence of a group holding adoption events at popular retail pet supply stores where they mutually benefit.

Anyone can call herself a rescuer or a non-profit and from the looks of many online rescue sites, this is a common practice! Do your homework first - check the IRS Charities Search site to see if the rescue in question is indeed a federally approved non-profit: click here to begin your search.


Finally, there should be more transparency from rescue groups. Many don't provide phone numbers and are not registered charities, and don't provide health certificates for their adopted animals. They should do better than the pet stores.

Friend or Faux?

Do you know who your rescuer is?

Groups conducting business in NJ and collecting cash should be registered (or reported) to the NJ Dept of Treasury, Division of Revenue. If a group claims to be a "non-profit" or a 501c3 when there is evidence of neither, contact:

NJ Charitable Registration Hotline at 973-504-6215
The NJ Charitable Registration & Investigation Section administers and enforces the provisions of the Charitable Registration & Investigation Act (CRI Act).
NJ Charitable Registration and Investigation Act
NJ Charities Regulations
NJ Department of the Treasury, Division of Revenue
IRS Charities Search
Guide - for 501c3 non-profit reports and 990s