Frequently Asked Questions


  • When did The Safe & Sound Rescue Project start?

The S&SP was created in 2004, operating out of Animal Hospital of Cambridge.  We set out with the goal to offer an alternative for people who needed to re-home sick or injured pets. Although there are many rescues, we felt that there was a lack of resources available within non-veterinary rescues to facilitate the treatment of medical surrenders.. The creation of the S&SP allowed us to help both private owners and existing rescues to treat, rehabilitate and re-home animals that may not have otherwise had a second chance.
The Animal Hospital of Cambridge has always had a very strong Emergency focus and ethics of care. It is through these difficult, and sometimes trying, cases that we have found ourselves faced with the task to make very emotionally grueling decisions.  We also quickly implemented interest free financing and payment plans, insurance – everything we could think of to try to always encourage people to keep their pets. We quickly tried to implemented interest free financing and payment plans, as well as free insurance trials for new pet owners to try to do everything we could to keep pets with their families. When these options simply weren’t viable, we then began to offer surrender as an alternative to humane euthanasia.  As word spread that we were willing to take in medical surrenders, we became a magnet for other hospitals in the area,  as well as individual pet owners  to reach out to us, often daily, with animals they wished to surrender. To date we estimate we have saved almost 5000 animals through this program in addition to helping several other hospitals begin to implement rescue programs based on our model!

  • What should I do to prepare for adopting a rescue?

There are so many wonderful resources available for people looking to adopt, and we encourage you to do your homework!  Call your local OSPCA and affiliates to find out as much as you can about the application and adoption process .  The OSPCA website has so many great resources that you can peruse at home and write down any additional questions or concerns you may have. We encourage you to talk to resources you already have strong relationships with like  your veterinarian, groomer, trainers.Often times they have lists of rescues they work with  and can help guide you through the process.  It can be very tempting to see a cute puppy or dog online and make a rash decision.  Most rescues, including ours, have  questionnaires designed to help you make an informed choice based on breed, age, lifestyle, medical conditions or predispositions.  Adopting a rescue can be such a rewarding, wonderful experience, but adopting a rescue should never be a rushed or pressured decision.  Our recommendation is to find someone you trust and TAKE YOUR TIME.

A new pet means new addition to your family that is a lifelong commitment to both their physical and emotional needs. By being prepared and making an informed decision you can minimize stress for both you and your prospective new family member.

  • Can I just come in and view the dogs you have available?

It is always better to book an appointment with one of our adoption coordinators.  This ensures that  we can spend the time we need to find out what you are looking for, and give you helpful advice. We also like to try to coordinate adoption viewings in a way that will minimize stress on our available animals, and make the process as positive as possible for them.

  • Isn’t it easier to adopt an adult dog?

Sometimes yes it is – we often take in adult dogs who are fully housetrained, have been to obedience classes etc.   However, we also take in adult dogs from: breeding situations, homes that perhaps were not able to train them properly etc.  So the answer to this question is – it very much depends on the individual  dog.  We will always do our best to provide you with as much information as possible about the unique and individual animal that you are interested in adopting so that we can try to make our adoptions as successful and long lasting as we can..

  • Why do I need to fill out an application beforehand?

We really want to ensure we have a good outcome for the animals that have been entrusted to our care! We want to try to create a situation in which both the pet and the new pet parent are happy and fulfilled from their new living environment. Gathering as much information as we can allows  us to cultivate and build successful matches.

  • Why is your process so long and intense?

We put our hearts into what we do.  For all the successful stories, we have had our share of sad ones too.  It is critically important for us to do our due diligence and ensure we have a great match.  The process takes time; but we are proud to say most times we get it right.  Having said that,we never  want someone to feel stuck or overwhelmed.  If we approve an adoption and things are not as expected, we want to know right away so that we can step in and help in whatever way we can. .  Sometimes these dogs have never been in a home environment so we know that both the experienced and first time dog owner will need resources and guidance through the process of rehabilitating their new family member. .

  • Should I spay or neuter my dog?

Breeding dogs can be a very rewarding, and wonderful experience.  It can also be extremely stressful and expensive when things go wrong.   Unless you are truly interested in  taking it on and investing time, money and knowledge, our advice is leave it to the professionals..  Last year alone 770k dogs were euthanized in shelters across the country.  We work very hard to ensure we are not contributing to the inflation of that number.  All adult dogs will be spayed or neutered before they leave our rescue.  We do everything we can to ensure puppies are also sterilized so that we can minimize the dog population.

Having said all that – if you are interested in breeding – please talk to us.  We have an amazing program for breeders at our hospital and can send you some resources to get your research started.  We would like to work with you and share our experience and training.  . We have an invested emotional and ethical interest in educating and supporting those who would like to learn about safe and responsible breeding practices.

  • What kind of dog should I adopt?

There are so many great breeds out there its tempting to have an entire wolf pack!.  The reality is creation of purebred dogs by humans has specialized and  streamlined personality traits and working drives.  We can help guide you to some excellent websites and resources so that you can make an educated decision as to which breed may be the best match for you.  We can also offer a wealth of personal experience surrounding specific breeds and temperaments, along with some great stories! We can help align you with great breeders or perhaps breed specific rescues in the area that would best facilitate your needs.

  • Where do your rescues come from?

We take in dogs and puppies from a variety of sources.  Sometimes other vet hospitals or emergency clinics will call us and ask us to help, or they will refer in a client who simply doesn’t want to keep their dog.  We also offer to help to breeders when they are retiring dogs or if they have puppies born with health problems.  We will openly offer to help any dog breeders or ‘puppy mills’ who choose to stop breeding and dissolve their colonies.

  • What can I do to help? I love what you do!!

We are ALWAYS interested in hearing from you – what can we do better?  How can we increase awareness and offer people solutions.  We feel there are already many animals in our own area and our happiest day would be one when rescues were obsolete and supply equaled demand.  A day when all animals were in loving homes who valued them and all breeders did a great job and had the support they needed to do a great job.

Donate if you can to your local OSPCA – they do great work and have wonderful people who care and are awesome at what they do.  We need to support them and continue to advocate for these organizations.  If you see something you think might be wrong – report it.  We all need to be voices for these animals and eyes and ears for them too.

If you have a pet you need to surrender or are a breeder looking for help – we encourage you to reach out to these guys first.  Gone are the days when dogs and puppies were abundant and euthanized readily.  Most of these shelters are very low kill and will help you.

  • Do you do home visits?

Unfortunately, at this time we are not staffed to enable home visits.  We LOVE references and testimonies from your vet, breeder, trainer etc.  Again, we are entering into a trust relationship with our adopters and we really want to make sure everyone is successful on both sides.

  • What can I expect in a phone interview and during the first viewing?

We have a list of questions we will ask you and try to help you uncover any things you may not have thought of.  What will you do for vacations, do you have any other pets and how will a new dog impact your kitty etc.

First viewings are so fun and we really want to make sure by that time we have helped you sort of figure out what kind of dog or puppy you are looking for.  We really have a ‘hit or miss’ bunch of rescues and they seem to come in frequently.  So we dont want anyone to rush their decision.  We may end up helping you find another source while you are here and that’s a win win too.

  • How long does it take for you to make decisions? When can I expect to hear back from someone by?

We really do our best to try to get the animals placed into homes as soon as we can.  Having said that, sometimes we will keep a kitty or dog for weeks or months at a time because the right home simply has not come along.  Every week our adoption team gets together and reviews applicants to try and make the most informed choices they can .

  • How do you decide on the best home for these rescues? Is it a lottery system or first-come-first-serve?

Sometimes lottery feels like the fairest way.  When we were visible on social media and posted something – often we would receive hundreds of emails on a dog or puppy.  It is a huge amount of work to filter through all of those emails and applications. In the instance that there are many great applications for one animal, we will pool them end employ the lottery system. Whether you are the first, or last application, you have the same opportunity and chance at being the successful applicant. Our applications are content based rather than time sensitive.

  • What if I have filled out an application and no one has gotten back to me?

Please feel free to call in anytime to check the status of your application! Sometimes we get multiple applications, or the process stays open for a while longer than we originally anticipated. This does not mean you have necessarily been declined, I would always recommend calling and checking with us.

  • Do you socialize your dogs?

We do as much work as we can with the dogs when we get them.  Sometimes that means we have weeks to get to know them, to expose them to other dogs and people and really make close connections with them.  Sometimes we are asked to take entire colonies of dogs and it is very difficult to spend one on one time getting to know each dog individually.  We work hard to never adopt out aggressive or unmanageable dogs and do our best to expose them to as much as we can without overwhelming them.  This can be pretty tricky – we also have amazing volunteers and foster homes we frequently call on to help guide us and give each individual animal their best chance.

  • Can you guarantee a dog can be hypoallergenic, good with kids, house-trained, good with other dogs, cat tested?

Absolutely not – we will always provide you with as much history and information as we can.  But often we don’t have complete records or data on these dogs so we can only make educated guesses as to how the will act or react, but certainly no guarantees. ..

  • Can we bring our dog, and/or our kids, to the first viewing appointment?

It depends on the rescue you are looking to apply for! We always recommend when coming to meet an adult dog, especially, that you should bring your children and/or dog in for a SECOND viewing. The first viewing is a good time for you to meet the rescues we have and get a feel of who you connect with and then proceed with a second viewing as needed. The adoption coordinators will let you know if it would be a good idea to bring them to the first viewing! But we definitely love seeing your family members coming in to meet our rescues!

  • What if I don’t get approved for my first choice?

Please don’t despair – sometimes it is very hard on us too – we have multiple applicants and try to put a great match together.  Sometimes that means we disappoint another person or family.  We will continue to work with you until we get it right.

  • Can I just fill out an application in person?

We always love to meet dog lovers and kindred spirits – please come in for a tour and we will show you what we are doing – its pretty exciting.

  • I’ve had dogs all of my life, can I be approved on the spot?

We LOVE that about you and are so excited to work with you.  We still really want to ensure we have a great outcome so we want to follow our tried and true process. This means that even if you seem like a great candidate, we will follow through the proper channels to try to ensure the best possible outcome.

  • Do you do any fundraising? Where do your funds come from?

We are a not for profit organization (not a registered charitable foundation) and we do not officially fund raise.  Our adoption fees help off set our costs.  Each case is different and sometimes we invest thousands of dollars into a particular case – while others are less expensive for us.  We have two Veterinarians and a surgeon who generously donate their time and professional services and facility.  When there are financial short falls they typically cover the costs.  Some cases – particularly fractures, parvo and PDA (heart problems) can really drain our resources.  We are looking into some fund raising ideas but we would prefer to completely separate the rescue from the hospital before we do that so there is complete confidence and transparency in place.

  • Why do you charge an adoption fees?

Our adoption fees help us offset the costs of helping these animals.  Without them this program would not be sustainable. We also want people to make a fully informed decision before they adopt a pet.  Veterinary fees and pet ownership can be very expensive (https://www.ovma.org/assets/1/20/Cost_of_Care_Infographic_-_Dogs.pdf) so we really try to encourage people to ensure they can afford a dog before they take one on.  The most recent survey done by OVMA (Ontario Veterinary Medical Association) estimated about 2600 dollars per year to own a dog uncomplicated.  We also really try to encourage everyone who adopts a dog from us or elsewhere to consider pet insurance.  There are lots of great products out there and insurance can mean the difference between being able to help in a crisis or having to choose a sadder alternative.

  • What is the difference between a breeder and a puppy mill? Aren’t they the same thing?

Here are some current definitions of these terms taken from the OSPCA website:

Backyard breeder: An owner whose pet may have an unplanned litter by accident, or who breeds on purpose. Common reasons cited include: making extra money, mistakenly believing every dog should have a litter, letting the children witness “the miracle of birth,” or because they think their dog would make cute puppies. The animals involved are generally not tested for health or genetic problems, and typically there is no thought to where the puppies will go. They are the single greatest cause of pet overpopulation. Many are sold locally through newspaper ads.

Puppy mill: The National Companion Animal Coalition defines puppy mills as a high-volume, sub-standard dog breeding operation, which sells purebred or mixed-breed dogs, to unsuspecting buyers. Characteristics common to puppy mills include: sub-standard health and/or environment issues; sub-standard animal care, treatment and/or socialization; sub-standard breeding practices which lead to genetic defects or hereditary disorders; and erroneous or falsified certificates of registration, pedigree, and/or genetic background. Note: These conditions may also exist in small volume or single-breed establishments.

It can be very difficult to tell where your puppy is coming from – our advice is ALWAYS go onsite and see the mom AND the dad.  A great breeder should be proud of their facility,their dogs and what they stand for.  Ask them if you can speak with their vet for a reference and pay close attention to the information the veterinarian offers you.

  • What is “responsible breeding”?

Responsible breeding, in our opinion, is breeding dog with the intent to produce healthy puppies.This means ensuring the parents are well kept and selected carefully with the ultimate goal of healthy progeny in mind.  This terminology is extremely subjective and also is dependent on whether the breeder is creating purebred CKC registered dogs (see https://www.ckc.ca/en/Breeding-Dogs/Code-of-Practice-for-CKC-Member-Breeders) or whether they are producing pet quality mixed breed puppies.

We really want to encourage everyone to do a great job and understand the responsibility and financial commitment they have taken on before they consider breeding their dogs.

  • I have allergies, can I still adopt from you?

We always suggest a conversation with your human health care provider if allergies are an issue.  Every situation is different and all animals pose a different antigenic challenge – having said that there are certainly breeds or breed combinations that historically seem to be less reactive to people.

  • Do the breeders make any money from you when they surrender to your rescue?

We will not pay for dogs or puppies.  If someone asks us to take in an animal we explain the costs we incur.  We also have opened our doors to any dog producers interested in dissolving their operations.  With recent changes to municipal bylaws – it is not often prohibited to sell puppies in pet stores.  This has complicated things for some breeders and they would rather ensure their breeding dogs are spayed and placed in nice homes.

  • Where does the money go from the adoption fee?

If an animals adoption fee is in excess of costs incurred to date – the excess funds are held in reserve for a more complicated cases.  Sometimes we have to call in board certified specialists or send our rescues in for advanced diagnostics.  It is our goal to never have to turn an animal away because of costs.  We also aggressively promote Wellness Plans and Insurance – our goal is to ensure these dogs and puppies end up in permanent homes.

  • Why are you guys not on Facebook anymore? We used to love to follow you.

We really have become pretty well known for the work we do.  We thought long and hard about our decision to come off social media.  It was an excellent way to promote our rescues and showcase the work we do.  It also inspired some very thought provoking questions and i think also helped raise some awareness.

Our interest is in inspiring others to do a great job and to HELP people and animals.  We now have a separate facility, we have been able to hire a few more people to help us and we felt moving to a Website focused forum might work better for us and enable us to share more information and links to other great sites and resources.  Time will tell.