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Claudia Black-Kalinsky
CPDT-Ka / Owner
Train This Dog
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Lisa Scarbrough
Coastal Pet Rescue
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David Adams
Department of Health Sciences, AASU


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Glossary of Terms Used in Animal Rescue


A process in which a rescued pet is placed into a permanent home.

Animal Control

A (usually) local government agency that responds to citizen calls regarding stray and/or dangerous animals and impounds them. Normally, not an animal welfare agency, as they exist to protect the public from animals.

Backyard Breeder

A person who chooses to breed their family pet for whatever reason suits them, not always profit. These breeders to not have a license and do not always have registration papers on their dogs or proof of bloodlines.


A person overseeing and providing food and veterinary care for a feral cat colony.


A person who acquires and hoards many pets without providing proper care. Also called hoarders, these people do not comprehend the devastating situation they cause, and usually do this as a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Commercial Breeder

Licensed breeders that breed multiple breeds for profit. Commercial breeders usually provide more vet care and socialization to their puppies than puppymills, but are not choosy about their new homes.


Physical harm or injury inflicted upon an animal by an individual or group of individuals.


An animal, which has adapted to humans over many generations. Also called companion animals.

Ethical Breeder

A breeder that breeds to improve the breed, not for profit. These breeders have had all possible health clearances for genetic defects done on their female before breeding her. The breeder has also studied the pedigrees of the dogs for compatibility. They ensure great attention and care to the puppies, and carefully screen those wishing to purchase a puppy. Ethical breeders do not make money in their breeding and usually remain as an extended family member in the puppy's life.


Ending the life of a pet.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

A retrovirus specific to cats that is usually transmitted through bite wounds, grooming or sharing food. FIV is less common than FeLV, and FIV+ cats often live long lives symptom-free.

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)

A retrovirus specific to cats, FeLV causes an immune system breakdown, making the cat susceptible to diseases that it might otherwise be able to fight. FeLV is highly contagious and spreads quickly.

Feral Cat

A cat that was previously domestic but became lost or abandoned and reverted to a wild state, or a cat that was born to a feral mother and has had little or no human interaction. Also called a wild cat.

Feral Cat Colony

A group of feral cats living together in a geographical area.


Politically correct term for a pet's owner, used to demonstrate that pets are no longer property but codependent members of a family.

Heartworm Disease

A potentially fatal disease in dogs in which heartworms are found in the heart and large adjacent vessels. Heartworm disease is transmitted through 30 species of mosquitoes and can be prevented through regular use of preventative as prescribed by your vet.


A facility that euthanizes animals on a regular basis, usually animal control shelters.


Depriving a pet (or pets) of the most basic necessities of food, water, shelter and veterinary care.


The surgical removal of a male pet's testicles to prevent reproduction. Also referred to as "fixing," "sterilizing," and "altering." Sometimes used as a gender-free term. Un-neutered animals are referred to as unaltered.


A shelter or rescue's policy that any healthy or treatable animals will be given the opportunity and resources to live until adopted.


Too many dogs and cats being born and not enough homes for them all.


The family tree of a pet. It will tell which pets have completed championship requirements and placements in shows.


Commercial breeding establishments, usually unlicensed, that sell puppies to pet stores, at flea markets or through newspaper ads. Puppymills provide less-than-adequate care and socialization for their puppies. These breeders breed only for profit, have multiple breeds available, and will give a puppy to anyone with cash.

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A virus that affects the central nervous system of mammals, ultimately resulting in death. Rabies can be transmitted from one animal to another, and from animals to humans.

Registration Papers

Proof that your dog is a purebred, that its parents are registered with the kennel club of the country of birth, and that it is eligible to compete in AKC/CKC sanctioned events.


A program or organization that takes in homeless, stray, surrendered, neglected and/or abused pets, provides the necessary care and works to find them permanent homes.

Rescue Transport

A coordinated rescue activity (usually interstate) in which volunteers from various rescue organizations drive several hundred miles to get adoptable pets pulled from kill-shelters and taken to a rescue for adoption or get adopted pets from a rescue to their new home.


A facility that houses stray and/or surrendered pets for adoption.


The surgical removal of a female pet's uterus and ovaries to prevent reproduction.

Special-needs Pet

A pet with a disability or medical condition that requires special care.


A tame or once domestic pet with no home or guardian. Also referred to as "unowned."


Giving up a pet for adoption to a rescue or shelter.


A pet that was born wild but is now trusting of human interaction.

Tom Cat

An un-neutered male cat.

Trap-Neuter-Return (aka Trap-Neuter-Release) (TNR)

A comprehensive, ongoing program in which feral cats are trapped humanely, vaccinated and altered, and then returned to their place of capture without fear of reproducing. Young kittens and tame cats are usually placed for adoption.