Minnesota cat, dog rescues desperately need foster, adoptive families

For anyone who’s ever considered adopting or fostering a pet, there’s no time like the present. Rescue organizations all over Minnesota desperately need help. They have more cats and dogs coming in than they can handle, and not enough families are willing to bring these animals into their homes.

On Sunday, the rescue No Dog Left Behind, took in a transport of four dogs who traveled a long way to Maple Grove. They left Kentucky amid deadly flooding. However, it's not just natural disasters leading to huge demand at the rescue.

"We keep taking in more dogs. We took in like 69 two weeks ago," said volunteer Leeann Brown.

The demand started growing during the beginning of the pandemic and never let up.

"Previous to COVID, (the rescue) took in and placed about 400 dogs a year. The first couple years after COVID-19, it went up to 4,000 dogs a year, and it's just been getting more and more and more," Brown said.

Food and supply costs are also increasing for rescues, and some are facing staff shortages, as well. The demand affects rescues more than larger pet organizations because they don’t have spaces as large and are typically volunteer-based. At No Dog Left Behind, for example, the animals are not able to stay overnight so they have to be brought to homes to foster.

The problem, however, isn't just that there are more animals needing help. It's also that far fewer families are willing to foster or adopt than what rescue organizations saw at the height of the pandemic.

Azure Davis, executive director and founder of Ruff Start Rescue in Princeton, said she and her colleagues have been scratching their heads trying to figure out why not as many people are stepping up to adopt.

"Is it a combination of everyone got a pet during the last couple of years? Is everyone just full? Inflation, gas prices? Who knows for sure. Going back to work – I know that's a factor a lot of people have brought up that they can't take a pet right now," Davis said.

During the month of August, Ruff Start Rescue is lowering adoption fees for adult cats from $200 to $99 to bring in more adoptive families. However, that's a loss of $10,000 to $12,000, while their costs are all going up.

They currently have 300 animals available, so they aren't able to take in any more cats.

"It just kills us when we have to do that, but we had too many in the rescue that weren't getting homes quickly enough and we were at capacity," Davis said.

It's a similar story with Bitty Kitty Brigade, a rescue that focuses on the tiniest kittens known as "neonatal" kittens. They are up to 5 weeks old and not yet able to eat on their own. The rescue temporarily paused intake to keep up with the demand.

"In 2022, we've taken in over 560 cats and kittens, and in the month of July, we've taken in 39, so we've had to slow down our intake because we're waiting for those older kittens to get adopted," said volunteer Jen Friesen. "Getting our older kittens adopted is essential so we have space to take in more kittens."

Anyone who is unable to adopt or foster should consider volunteering at or donating to their local rescue. They likely need not just money to keep up with this high demand but also food and supplies.