Under Our Wing

So, you have rescued a cat or dog and need to find it a loving home. Now what do you do? The first step is to look for a possible owner. Please visit our FOUND A LOST OR STRAY page to make sure you’ve done everything possible.

Like every other no-kill rescue in Los Angeles, we get more requests to take in animals than we have capacity for. So, if you are asking us if we can take a cat or dog into our rescue, it is very unlikely that we will have room. However, we do have two decades of experience in rescuing and rehoming pets, and we can teach you how to find a good home for a pet you have rescued.

Get to Know Your Rescued Pet

Take your rescue to a veterinarian, and ask these important questions that you can share with potential adopters:

  • Confirm that the animal is not microchipped to a possible owner.
  • How old is this animal?
  • What breed/or breeds does the vet think the animal could be?
  • Is the animal spayed or neutered?
  • If it’s a puppy/kitten, how many pounds does the vet think the animal will weigh when full grown?
  • Are there any health issues that are a concern?

On The Rescue Train we like to make sure our animals are in good health and ready to go home before we make them available for adoption. We are also careful that an animal doesn't have any contagious illnesses that could infect an adopter’s other pets. Here is the minimum vetting we recommend for a healthy cat or dog prior to adoption.

  • Overall examination
  • SPAY OR NEUTER THE ANIMAL. The reason you are dealing with a rescue is because of pet overpopulation. Be responsible: never adopt out an unaltered animal!
  • Vaccinations
  • Deworm
  • Deflea
  • CATS ONLY: FIV/FELV test. * This is a must!
  • Microchip

For pets over the age of seven, we recommend senior blood and urine panels.

To Do List

1. Decide whether you are going to foster or board your rescued pet. Fostering this animal is a great way to learn about its behavior in a home. If fostering is not an option, consider keeping him or her at a local boarding facility. Check with your vet's office to see if they offer short-term boarding.

2. Get to know the pet. Does your dog/cat get along with other animals? Children? Is he/she housebroken? An escape artist? Potential adopters are going to want to know the answers to these questions.

3. Get a dog evaluated by a certified professional dog trainer. An obedience-trained dog is very attractive to potential adopters. Additionally, dog training will give you an opportunity to learn more about the dog under the guidance of a professional dog trainer. Ask the trainer what he/she thinks would be the ideal home for this dog.

4. Get great photos and videos! These are the best tools you have to draw attention to your rescued pet on

  • Try to get the animal to look into the camera and connect. No profile shots. A treat or squeaky toy can often get an animal to look toward camera.
  • Don’t use the flash setting on your camera. Try to use flattering natural light. Eyes are the window to the soul.
  • Browse the “Adopt” section of our website and look at the listings of our available cats and dogs to see how we do it.

5. Network your rescued pet. Now that you have your adorable photos and video and have learned important information about the pet, you are ready to post. Social media and neighborhood apps are excellent ways to get him/her seen. Ask your family and friends to help spread the word! Adopt-A-Pet has a rehoming service you use too.

6. Fundraising for the Pet’s Expenses. It can be expensive to save an animal from the streets. When you do something good like rescue an animal, others want to join in and help. Often friends, family, coworkers and the community where you rescued a pet will help with donations. Share your rescue via email and social media with a cute photo and the animal’s story. You can ask people to make out checks to vet offices or boarding facilities, so they know their money is going directly to the animal’s care. Start a campaign on www.gofundme.com for your rescue.

7. Screen potential adopters. We strongly recommend that you have a potential adopter fill out an adoption application. The application is the best tool to see if the person is a responsible pet owner.

8. Meet and greet your potential adopters to see how you like them in person. Don’t be in a rush to place the pet. Why go through all this effort and put your heart into this animal if the placement is not right? Do your homework and take the time to screen the home.

9. Be a responsible rescuer. Be honest and transparent about the pet’s health and behavior to help set up a safe and successful adoption.

  • Protect small children. If you don't know the history of your pet and aren’t 100% sure that it gets along with kids, don’t take risks.
  • Protect existing pets in adopter’s homes. We love large dogs but sometimes they aren’t good with small dogs and cats. Get the help of a dog trainer, or simply don’t place them in a home with smaller animals.
  • Introduce dogs correctly. The best way to introduce dogs is to have them go for a walk, on leash, in neutral territory. If that goes well, you can let the dogs go into a yard with leashes left on and see how they get along. The reason you leave the leashes on is so that you can quickly and easily pull the dogs apart if there is an altercation. You never want to bring your rescued dog directly into another dog’s home.
  • Introduce cats correctly. Bring your rescued cat in its carrier and put it on the floor of the new home. Let the other cat smell the cat through the carrier and observe. Remember, hissing is not aggression. Hissing means “Don’t get too close; I’m scared.” Growling or screaming is a problem. Exchanging scents with a towel is helpful. Take it slow.

10. Do a home check prior to adoption. A home check is not meant to be an invasion of privacy but to make sure your animal is entering a safe and loving home. After you have spent so much time and energy saving a pet, don’t you want to see where it is going to spend the rest of its life? A good home will have nothing to hide. Things to look for at your home check:


  • the fence high enough? Large dogs need a fence at least six feet high. Is the fence secure? Walk the perimeter and check for holes or weak areas. Don’t be afraid to ask the potential adopters to make the environment secure before their new pet comes home. If they are not willing to, then they don’t take the dog’s safety seriously.
  • If there is a pool, is there a fence around it? Dogs are like kids--especially puppies and senior dogs. A puppy can drown if you turn your back for even a moment. Even senior dogs that once could swim can lose their balance or become disoriented in their golden years. If it is a healthy adult dog that enjoys swimming, please teach the dog where the steps are.
  • Who has access to their yard? Gardeners? Workmen? Small children? Gates should be locked. Dogs must be kept inside while workers are present. Children must be reminded about closing doors and gates for their new pet. Many dogs are lost as the result of a gate being left open.


  • Are there secure screens on windows?
  • Are there any unsafe areas in the home where a cat could hide or get stuck? For example, a fireplace, holes in walls, etc.
  • Do they live in coyote country?
  • Will they keep the cat indoors? If so, children must be reminded about closing doors so a cat can’t escape.

11. Adoption Contract. So you've found a great home? Congratulations for getting this far! We strongly recommend that you use an adoption contract that releases you from liability and binds the adopter to keep their promises about caring for the pet and providing a good home.

12. Ask for a Donation. People don’t put any value on things they get for free. Also, you want to be confident that your adopter has the financial ability to care for a pet. If they can’t afford a donation, they can’t afford 10-plus years of vet bills and good pet food. What amount is appropriate? That is up to you. Ask to be reimbursed for the cost of your spaying/neutering and vaccines or have the adopters make a donation to a local animal rescue in honor of the work you did.

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