If you are thinking about starting a new rescue group, define your mission and vision before you do any other planning. Where is the greatest need in your community? What do you hope to accomplish and why? Conducting a community assessment can assist you in determining the type of help the animals in your community need. Typically, forming a rescue group consists of creating an organization that takes in animals that have been transferred from a shelter, relinquished by their owner or found as a stray; fosters them in a home environment; and adopts them out. Although these foster-based organizations are crucial to lifesaving efforts, generally their mission is not to stop the problem of pets becoming homeless in the first place.
There are other ways to help. Consider the needs in your community before deciding what type of rescue group you want to start. Nearly every community could use more foster-based organizations, but if the market is already saturated with those, you may want to think about creating a prevention-based organization that keeps pets in their homes and stops them from entering the shelter and rescue system in the first place. Your organization can be at the bottom of a broken dam with buckets to lessen the deluge of rushing water or you can start from the top and plug the holes to prevent the water from leaking. Prevention-based organizations might focus on low-cost spay/ neuter, lost-and-found, behavior assistance, legal assistance, pet food pantry operation or other valuable programs.