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What is the difference between an animal shelter and rescue?

They’re both great organizations that rescue pets who need a safe place for cats, dogs, and other animals to be taken care of while they find their new home. While people use the term “rescue” and “shelter” interchangeably, there are many differences when it comes to the terms.

Animal Shelters

  • Shelters (animal control) are typically funded at the town, city, or state level.

  • Pups are housed in a kennel, minimal comforts, lots of noise and barking.

  • Staff consists of paid workers and volunteers to provide care for the animals

  • Sadly, many shelters may euthanize animals due to shelter over-capacity

  • Medical treatment and caring of the animals initially will need to be done by the adopter which can pose a great challenge without knowing the animal’s health and medical history.

Animal rescues, like Cavalier Rescue of Florida, are similar to animal shelters in that they protect unhoused animals.

  • Rescues are volunteer-run, non-profit 501(c)(3) with no government funding or grants.

  • Rescues run out of private volunteer homes, no public buildings with kennels.

  • These pups are rehabilitated and socialized in “the big bed” for bedtime, on cozy couches, with lots of toys, freedom to run around, cuddle time and with all the comforts of a home.

  • Rescue organizations don’t typically have paid positions and funded solely by the person or the organization’s own money as well as any public donations.


The benefits of rescue are plentiful! For animal shelters and rescues, the top benefit of adopting an animal is that you’re saving the animal—providing a second chance at life. Cavalier Rescue of Florida takes great care of our rescue Cavies with full medical vetting, treatment, care, socialization, and lots of love. We love this breed, so we are very careful with the adoption process and finding forever homes.

  • Rescues like CRF, bond with their animals, so they’re more selective when it comes to the people who are adopting them.

  • Most rescues do not have over-populated facilities and are able to care for each animal on a personal, “at home” basis. Importantly, this also means all health and any medically related problems are addressed and treated before they go to their new loving home for their second chance at happiness.

  • Rescue organizations, like CRF, are careful about their pups’ needs, so the adoption application / process may take longer than an animal shelter.

  • Many rescue organizations do not have a public location but by-appointment-only after the adopter(s) is approved for adoption.

  • Rescue organizations like CRF will make sure our Blenheim, Black and Tan, Ruby and Tri-color cavaliers are pampered by their foster families and 100% clear to go home to their “fur-ever families.”

  • Many rescues, like CRF, are breed specific, providing superb knowledge and details about the breed personality, characteristics and well-being. Purebred pups are readily available through this option and there are Rubies, Blenheims, Tri-Color, and rare, Black and Tan. Plus, once-in-awhile, a puppy, many seniors, bonded pairs and every age in-between.

  • You also have the advantage of being able to consult Cavalier Rescue during and after the adoption. Often times, our adopters will keep in touch with new photos, and anything they want to sure which we absolutely love!

Love, the Cavies! Xo


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