Do you want to start an animal rescue business? If YES, here is a detailed guide on how to start an animal rescue business with no money and no experience. The law of the United States of America frowns at pets roaming the streets. Studies show that each year 8 to 12 million dogs, cats, puppies and kittens are euthanized because there are simply not enough homes for them.
This is why an animal rescue business would always come in handy. Their major aim is to rescue stray pets from the street and try as much as possible to reunite the pets with their owners and also find new homes for pets that can’t be reunited with their owners.
Depending on the area and jurisdiction, those who engage in animal rescue might need a license, insurance, and also might have to be trained in animal first aid. However, you don’t necessarily require an education or a certification before you can launch this type of business.
It is very important that you analyze the existing animal rescue businesses in and outside your area. Know how many there are. Also, you would be required to check the existing competition, as well as know their strengths and weaknesses.
Knowing the weaknesses of the existing animal rescue businesses around you would enable you learn from their mistakes and in turn come up with a better and more preferred animal rescue service devoid of the mistakes and weaknesses of others.
20 Steps to Starting an Animal Rescue Business With No Money
Table of Content
- 2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- 3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
- 4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
- 5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
- 9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
- 10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
- 11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
- 12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
- 13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
- 14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
- 15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
- 16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
- 17. Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services & Products
- 18. Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win
- 19. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers
- 20. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
1. Understand the Industry
The Animal Rescue Shelters industry comprises of businesses that rescue and provide a temporary home for stray and homeless pets while seeking permanent homes for them.
A recent report published by IBISWorld shows that over the past five years to 2019, animal rescue shelters have continued to grow as consumers adopt pets, benefiting the Animal Rescue Shelters industry. In response to the high volume of animal rescue each year, many animal welfare advocacy outreach programs have managed to secure funding for many nonprofit shelters, further benefiting the industry.
While the number of pets in the united states has increased, animal overpopulation in shelters have been an issue for the industry. However, industry revenue is expected to grow due to rising consumer awareness about animal shelter overpopulation, which has stimulated demand for adopting rescue animals rather than purchasing animals from breeders or puppy mills.
Over the next five years to 2024, consumers will be wary of how animal breeders and the lack of pet sterilization can further exacerbate overpopulation. As a result, more individuals will adopt their pet from animal shelters, which will provide a boon to the industry.
Statistics has it that in the United States of America alone, there are about 10,004 registered and licensed animal shelters cum rescue companies responsible for employing about 44,805 and the industry rakes in a whooping sum of $3 billion annually. The industry was projected to enjoy 1.8 percent annual growth between 2014 and 2019.
The Animal Rescue Shelters industry will continue to blossom because they are positioned to benefit from many municipalities, animal welfare organizations and other companies providing funding. During the period, many animal rescue shelters will expand their portfolio of services, particularly to provide microchips in rescued animals, to lower the risk of adopted animals becoming lost.
Furthermore, many animal rescue shelters will have Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to track a pet’s microchip with an RFID scanner, which will be increasingly used to unite stray pets with their owners. Some of the factors that encourage entrepreneurs to start their own animal rescue business could be that the business is thriving and easy to set up and manage with minimal startup capital and manpower.
Animal Rescue businesses all over the world are still enjoying good patronage particularly if they are well positioned and if they know how to network with stakeholders and reach out to their target market (those are willing to adopt pets). Besides, more individuals will prefer to adopt their pet from animal shelters, boosting industry revenue.
2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
The demographic and psychographic composition of those who adopt pets cut across businesses and households hence the demographic composition for an animal rescue business is all encompassing.
So, if you are thinking of starting an animal rescue business then you should make your target demographics all encompassing. It should include the public sector, households, security companies, military, police and every organization that own dogs and other pets or are looking towards owning pets.
3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
There is no niche area when it comes to animal rescue; all players in the industry basically rescue and find a temporary home for stray and homeless pets while seeking permanent homes for them. But on the other hand, some animal rescue businesses may decide to major in some key or niche areas such as;
- Providing animal euthanasia
- Spraying and neutering animal rescues
- Administering pet care services
- Giving vaccinations and medications
- Arranging pet adoption services
- Educational and behavioral programs for rescued animals
The Level of Competition in the Industry
The competition that exists in the animal rescue and shelter business goes beyond competition amongst animal rescue companies, but involves every player in the pet grooming and boarding industry who also provide animal rescue and shelter services. So, it will be right to say the competition in the animal rescue and shelter line of business is tough.
The truth is that no matter the level of competition in an industry, if you have done your due diligence and you brand and promote your services or business properly, you will always make headway in the industry. Just ensure that you pay attention to details when carrying out your job.
4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
In every industry, there are always brands that perform better or are better regarded by customers and general public than others. Some of these brands have been in the industry for a long time, while others are best known for how they conduct their businesses and the results they have achieved over the years.
These are some of the leading animal rescue and shelter services in the United States of America and in the globe;
- Gateway Pet Guardians
- Labradors and Friends Dog Rescue
- “A Home Away” Pet Boarding and Rescue
- Carbon County Animal Shelter
- Fortunate Pooches and Lab Rescue
- Pine Valley Shih Tzu Rescue
- Outer Banks SPCA/Dare County Animal Shelter
- Bullies 2 the Rescue
- Angels of Gaston Animal Rescue
- Front Range German Shepherd Rescue
- Greyhound Adoption of Ohio, Chagrin Falls, OH
- Reach Out Rescue, NFP, Oak Lawn, IL
- HCPHES Veterinary Public Health
- Barktown Rescue, Bardstown, KY
- LoveyLoaves, Orlando, FL
- German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County
- For the Luv of Paws, Golden Valley, AZ
- Standing Proud Pit Bull Rescue Center
- Happy Tails Happy Homes
- The Multnomah County Animal Services
If you are looking towards successfully launching a business and maximizing profits, then you need to ensure that you get your economic and cost analysis right and try as much as possible to adopt international best practices in the industry you choose to build a business in.
Animal rescue and shelter business is rapidly becoming popular not just in the United States of America but also in developed countries of the world. So, if you are mapping out your economic and cost analysis, you should carry out thorough market survey and costing of what is required to rent or lease a facility and also the running cost of the business.
Over and above, if you are considering starting an animal rescue business, then your concern should not be limited to the cost of registering the business and renting a facility, but also on branding and on how to build a robust clientele base. The truth is that if you are able to build a robust clientele base and far reaching business network, you are sure going to maximize profits from the business.
5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
If you are looking towards starting an animal rescue and shelter business, you would have to start from the very scratch because you can hardly get the franchise of an animal rescue business to buy even though we have a couple of them in the United States.
Besides starting an animal rescue and shelter business from the scratch is less stressful when compared to other small – scale businesses which usually requires detailed groundwork and paperwork.
With an animal rescue business, you should just try as much as possible to get the right facility and rescue truck/van, the right training skills and equipment, build business relationship with key stakeholders and then leverage on every marketing tool within your disposal to market your services.
Please note that most of the successful animal rescue businesses around started from the scratch and they were able to build a solid business brand. It takes dedication, hard work and determination to achieve business success.
6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
If you decide to start your own animal rescue and shelter business today, one of the major challenges you are likely going to face is the presence of well – established animal rescue companies and other players in the pet grooming and boarding services industry that also offer same services as you do. The only way to avoid this challenge is to create your own market.
Some other challenges and threats that you are likely going to face is economic downturn and unfavorable government policies. There is nothing you can do as regards these threats and challenges other than to stay positive that things will work out well for you.
7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
When considering starting an animal rescue and shelter business, the legal entity you choose will go a long way to determine how big the business can grow. Generally, you can either choose a general partnership, limited liability company, or a sole proprietorship for your animal rescue and shelter business.
Ordinarily, sole proprietorship should have been the ideal business structure for a small – scale animal rescue business especially if you are just starting out with a moderate startup capital.
But if your intention is to grow the business and offer your pet adoption services to customers all across your state and throughout the United States of America, then choosing sole proprietor is not an option for you. Limited Liability Company, LLC or even general partnership will cut it for you.
Setting up an LLC protects you from personal liability. If anything goes wrong in the business, it is only the money that you invested into the limited liability company that will be at risk. It is not so for sole proprietorships and general partnerships. Limited liability companies are simpler and more flexible to operate and you don’t need a board of directors, shareholder meetings and other managerial formalities.
Upgrading to a ‘C’ corporation or ‘S’ corporation will give you the opportunity to grow your business so as to compete with major players in the industry; you will be able to generate capital from venture capital firms, you will enjoy separate tax structure, and you can easily transfer ownership of the company.
8. Choose a Catchy Business Name
As it relates Choosing a name for your business, you should be creative because whatever name you choose for your business will go a long way to create a perception of what the business represents. If you are considering starting an animal rescue business, here are some catchy names that you can choose from;
- Friends of Pet™ Animal Rescue, Inc.
- Red Tim® Animal Rescue and Shelter Services Company, LLC
- Bruno Whisky© Animal Rescue and Shelter Services Company, Inc.
- Tavis Brown® Animal Rescue and Shelter Services, Inc.
- Lucas McDonalds Pet Grooming and Boarding Company, Inc.
- Better Life® Animal Rescue and Shelter Services Company, Inc.
- Bob Jones™ Animal Rescue and Shelter Services, Inc.
- Lualaba Buster™ Animal Rescue and Shelter Services, Inc.
- Ian Bennie & Sons® Animal Rescue and Shelter Services Company, Inc.
- Bentley® Animal Rescue and Shelter Services Company, Inc.
9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
In the United States and in most countries of the world, you can’t operate a business without having some of the basic insurance policy covers that are required by the industry you want to operate from. So, it is important to create a budget for insurance and perhaps consult an insurance broker to guide you in choosing the best insurance policies for your business.
Here are some of the basic insurance covers that you should consider purchasing if you want to start this business in the United States of America;
- General insurance
- Pet Insurance
- Animal Mortality Insurance
- Health insurance
- Liability insurance
- Risk insurance
- Motor vehicle insurance (comprehensive insurance)
- Workers Compensation
- Overhead expense disability insurance
- Business owner’s policy group insurance
10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
If you are considering starting your own animal rescue business, usually you may not have any need to file for intellectual property protection/trademark. This is because the nature of the business makes it possible for you to successfully run it without having any cause to challenge anybody in court for illegally making use of your company’s intellectual properties.
But if you just want to protect your company’s logo and other documents or software that are unique to you or even jingles and media production concepts, then you can go ahead to file for intellectual property protection. If you want to register your trademark, you are expected to begin the process by filing an application with the USPTO.
11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
Apart from your ability to handle dogs and other pets and operate pet training equipment and tools, professional certification is one of the main reasons why some animal rescue businesses stand out. If you want to make an impact in the industry, you should work towards acquiring all the needed certifications in your area of specialization.
You are strongly encouraged to pursue professional certifications; it will go a long way to show your commitment towards the business. Certification validates your competency and shows that you are highly skilled, committed to your career, and up-to-date in the competitive market.
These are some of the certifications you can work towards achieving if you want to run your own animal rescue and shelter business;
- The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT)
- IACP Certification Program for Dog Trainers – Canine Professionals
- Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA)
Please note that you can successfully run an animal rescue and shelter business on a small scale in the United States without necessarily acquiring professional certifications as long as you have adequate experience in the industry.
12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
The essence of having the necessary documentation in place before launching a business in the United States of America cannot be overemphasized. It is a fact that you cannot successfully run any business in the United States without the proper documentations.
If you do, it won’t be too long before the long hand of the law catches up with you. These are some of the basic legal documents that you are expected to have in place if you want to legally run your business in the United States of America;
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Business License
- Tax Payer’s ID / Tax Identification Number
- Pet Handling Certificate
- Facility / Building Permit
- Business Plan
- Non – disclosure Agreement
- Employee Handbook
- Employment Agreement (offer letters)
- Operating Agreement for LLCs
- Insurance Policy
- Company Bylaws
- Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
- Contract Document
13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
Starting an animal rescue and shelter business can be cost effective especially if you choose to start on a small scale and within your community, but if you choose to start on a large scale with standard animal rescue shelter and over a handful of full-time employees, then you would need to source for fund to finance the business.
When it comes to financing a business, one of the first and perhaps major factors you should consider is to write a good business plan. If you have a good and workable business plan document in place, you may not have to labor yourself before convincing your bank, investors and your friends to invest in your business. Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for startup capital for your business;
- Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
- Applying for Loan from your Bank
- Pitching your business idea and applying for business grants and seed funding from donor organizations
- Source for soft loans from your family members and your friends.
14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
Even though you can afford to start an animal rescue and shelter business from any part of the world, but when it comes to choosing a location, the rule of thumb is that you should be guided by access to the number of dogs and other pet owners in the location.
It cannot be overemphasized that the location you chose to start your animal rescue and shelter business is key to the success of the business, hence entrepreneurs are willing to rent or lease a facility in a visible location; a location where the demography consists of people who love or own dogs and other pets and with the require purchasing power and lifestyle.
If you make the mistake of starting your animal rescue and shelter business in an area where people are not willing to adopt dogs and other pets, you will struggle to grow the business because you will spend more in promoting the business.
Most importantly, before choosing a location for your animal rescue and shelter business, ensure that you first conduct a thorough feasibility studies and market survey. The possibility of you coming across similar businesses that just closed shop in the location can’t be ruled out.
These are some of the key factors that you should consider before choosing a location for your animal rescue business;
- The demography of the location as it relates to the number of households and organizations that own pets
- The adoption rate of pets in the location
- The purchasing power of the residents of the location
- Accessibility of the location
- The number of animal rescue and shelter businesses and related services in the location
- The local laws and regulations in the community/state
- Traffic, parking and security et al
15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
On the average, there are no special technology/equipment needed to run this type of business except for pet/dog leaches, boarding and training equipment, inventory-management software and other relevant software applications. So also, you will need computers/laptops, internet facility, telephone, fax machine and office furniture (chairs, tables, and shelves) amongst others and all these can be gotten as fairly used.
As regards leasing or outright purchase of an animal rescue and shelter, the choice is dependent on your financial standing, but the truth is that to be on the safe side, it is advisable to start off with short – term rent/lease while test running the business in the location.
If things work out as planned, then you go on a long – term lease or outright purchase of the property. Besides, you can comfortably run a small – scale animal rescue and shelter business from your home if you live in a big compound.
When it comes to hiring employees for a standard animal rescue and shelter business, you should make plans to hire a competent Chief Executive Officer/Manager (you can occupy this role), Facility Manager, Dog and Pet Handlers and Trainers (6), Vet Doctor, Accounting Clerk, and Front Desk Officer. On the average, you will need a minimum of 5 to 10 key staff members to run a medium – scale but standard animal rescue and shelter business.
The Services Delivery Process of the Business
Basically, animal rescue and shelter businesses go out to rescue pets that are roaming the streets. Once the pets are rescued, they are taken into a shelter. Once the rescued pets are in the shelter, a vet doctor assess the pet to know if they are ok and the necessary treatments to be administer. They also go ahead to administer the necessary pet care services; they give vaccinations and medications and finally arrange or put up the rescued pets for adoption or reunite them with their owners for a fee.
It is important to state that an animal rescue and shelter business may decide to improvise or adopt any business process and structure that will guarantee them efficiency and flexibility; the above stated animal rescue and shelter business process is not cast on stone.
16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
If you choose to launch an animal rescue and shelter business, then you must employ strategies that will help you attract customers or else you will likely struggle with the business because there are well – known brands determining the market direction in the Animal Rescue industry.
Your marketing strategy should center on reliability, swiftness, safety, pricing, secured payment platform, and above all excellent customer service. You should ensure that whenever your customers hire your services to help them rescue their stray pets, they will get excellent service.
The truth is that if you are able to put the above stated in place, you won’t struggle to retain your old customers and at the same time win over new customers. Here are some of the platforms we will utilize to market our animal rescue and shelter business;
- Introduce your animal rescue and shelter business by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to the public sector, households, security companies, military, police and every organization that own dogs and other pets within your location.
- Advertise your business in relevant business magazines, newspapers, TV and radio stations
- List our business on yellow pages ads (local directories)
- Attend relevant international and local expos, seminars, and business fairs et al
- Create different packages for different category of clients in order to work with their budgets
- Leverage on the internet to promote your business
- Join local chambers of commerce around you with the main aim of networking and marketing your services; you are likely going to get referrals from such networks.
- Engage the services of marketing executives and business developers to carry out direct marketing
17. Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services & Products
One key factor that will help you offer your animal rescue and shelter service at rock bottom prices is to purchase your products (dog and pet boarding and training equipment, tools and supplies) directly from the manufacturers in pretty large quantities. The truth is the higher the quantities of items that you purchase directly from the manufacturers, the cheaper you tend to get them.
Another strategy that will help you offer your services at the right price is to ensure that you cut operational cost to the barest minimum and channel your efforts towards marketing and promoting your brand name. Aside from the fact that this strategy will help you save cost, it will also help you get the right pricing for your services.
18. Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win
Your ability to rescue pets swiftly, the standard of your animal shelter, your business process and of course your pricing model are part of what you need to stay competitive in the industry. If you are into animal rescue and shelter business, then it is advisable that you make use of effective boarding and training tools and also ensure that you take testimonials from your clients who are satisfied with how you helped them rescue their stray pets or those who adopted pets from you.
Another possible competitive strategy for winning your competitors in this particular industry is to build a robust clientele base and business network. Over and above, ensure that your organization is well positioned, key members of your team are highly qualified and your rescue and training services can favorably compete with the some of the best in the industry.
19. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers
When it comes to business, no matter the industry that you choose to pitch your tent in, one of the easiest ways to increase customer retention and perhaps attract new customers is to produce results and satisfy your customers always. If your customers are satisfied with your services delivery, they can hardly source for alternative service providers.
If you can continue to successfully rescue stray pets for your customers, shelter and train pets to acquire exceptional skills and your customer service delivery is top notch, then you won’t struggle to maintain loyal customers. Ensure that you offer your customers incentives if you want to retain them and of course continue to generate repeated sales from them and also to attract new customers.
Part of what you need to do to achieve this is to track progress, results or outputs with the aim of improving on them quickly as the case demands. When it comes to managing your customers, and building loyal clientele base, you should purchase a customized CRM software.
With a customized CRM system, you can easily stay in touch with your clients (you can carry out quick surveys, you can introduce new products and prices to them without any hitch, you can felicitate with them on their birthdays and other anniversaries, you can keep track of their progress, you can send bulk sms and customized e – mails and above all, you can easily receive compliant and feedback from them).
20. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
If you are in business and you are not deliberate about boosting you brand awareness and communicating your corporate identity, then you should be ready to take on whatever the society portrays your business to be. One of the secrets of larger corporations is that they are willing to spend fortunes to boost their brand awareness.
If your intention of starting an animal rescue and shelter business is to grow the business beyond the city where you are going to be operating from to become a national brand, then you must be ready to spend money on promotion and advertisement of your brand.
Here are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your brand awareness and create corporate identity for your animal rescue and shelter business;
- Place adverts on both print (newspapers and magazines) and electronic media platforms
- Sponsor relevant community based events/programs
- Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like; Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google + et al to promote your services
- Install your Billboards in strategic locations all around your city or state
- Distribute your fliers and handbills in target areas
- Contact the public sector, households, security companies, military, police and every organization that own dogs and other pets within your location
- List your animal rescue and shelter business in local directories / yellow pages
- Advertise your animal rescue and shelter business in your official website and employ strategies that will help you pull traffic to the site.
- Position our Flexi Banners at strategic positions in the location where your animal rescue and shelter business is located.
- Ensure that all your staff members wear your branded shirts and all your vehicles and trucks/vans are well branded with your company logo et al.