When the Humane Society of the United States pulls up to the Loudoun County Animal Shelter with its load of rescued pups, it's a cause for celebration.

As one of the HSUS's Shelter and Rescue Partners (formerly known as Emergency Placement Partners), the Northern Virginia shelter not only reaps the rewards of being able to give downtrodden dogs a second chance, but they score a bevy of other benefits, too.

"We'd all get so excited whenever we got a call to take in rescued dogs," recalls Loudoun County Animal Shelter's former deputy chief Janette Reever. "With any big rescue case, all the media coverage really grabs the public's attention and tugs at their hearts. People who had never visited our shelter before would drive down, wanting to do their part to help the animals."

"Half of those people who showed up for the dogs they saw on the news would end up spotting and adopting another wonderful dog or cat who'd been waiting at the shelter for months. Our overall adoption rates would skyrocket with every rescue."

Breathing new life into a shelter's adoption program, as well as piquing (and maintaining) the public's interest is every shelter manager's dream. Joining the Shelter and Rescue Partners network, on a nationwide mission to stop animal abuse, provides the perfect vehicle to do just that.

Who are the Shelter and Rescue Partners?

Shelter and Rescue Partners are part of a national mission to save animals from abuse. They are animal shelters, rescue groups and other humane organizations who choose to join our national network targeting large-scale animal-abuse cases—from hoarding situations to animal fighting or puppy mill operations. Partners must qualify as one of the following:

  • A registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit humane organization
  • A organization affiliated with a national or regional breed rescue association
  • A public animal care and control agency

What do Shelter and Rescue Partners do?

Shelter and Rescue Partners are perhaps the most crucial element in our national mission to rescue abused animals. After the Humane Society of the United States removes animals from abusive situations, we work with our partners to care for and place the animals. As local groups with access to local resources, partners provide the animals with veterinary care, rehabilitation and ultimately, placement in lifelong homes.

What kinds of situations do the animals come from?

Shelter and Rescue Partners take in animals from all kinds of large-scale abuse cases across the country, including:

  • Natural disasters
  • Puppy mills
  • Cockfighting operations
  • Hoarding cases
  • Extreme neglect cases

Companion animals may also be left homeless during natural disasters like flooding, hurricanes, fires and earthquakes.

While some animals are well-socialized family pets, others may be traumatized and need rehabilitation and extensive care before being rehomed.

Can the Humane Society of the United States assist partners financially with the cost of caring for these displaced animals?

With the addition of our Emergency Animal Rescue Fund, there are now even more financial assistance opportunities for Shelter and Rescue Partners to help recover resources spent on rescued animals. The media attention on large-scale rescues also tends to inspire financial donations from the public for the local rescue groups involved.

What are the benefits of becoming a Shelter and Rescue Partner?

For people in the animal rescue field, helping abused animals find their forever homes is an incomparable joy that cultivates an enduring commitment to fighting against animal cruelty. And while the goodwill generated from within the community is one benefit, the goodwill generated among fellow rescue groups is another.

"During our partner rescues, the chance to network and develop relationships with other rescue groups was really invaluable," says Loudoun County's Reever. "It was a huge reassurance to know that just as we had their backs, they'd have ours if we really needed them."

How can my organization become a Shelter and Rescue Partner?

We invite all eligible organizations to apply. After viewing the program policies [PDF], submit a completed application [PDF] to the HSUS.

What's the next step?

After we review your application, a Shelter and Rescue Partners manager will contact you in two to four weeks. If your organization is accepted into the program, you will be asked to sign and return the Policies and Agreement [PDF] document.

Once you're accepted as a Shelter and Rescue Partner, you're entered into our national database and we may call on you for help as the need arises. We'll work closely with you to ensure an optimal experience for both your organization and the animals you take in.

Have more questions about the Shelter and Rescue Partner program? Email us.