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2020 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Ruff Start Rescue Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animal Protection & Welfare, Animals

Mission: Ruff Start Rescue is dedicated to saving the lives of at-risk animals. We also collaborate, communicate, and educate about the importance of animal rescue and welfare.

Target demographics: animals and their people

Direct beneficiaries per year: 2000 animals

Geographic areas served: Minnesota and support other states

Programs: Ruff start rescue is a non-profit, no-kill, volunteer-based, 100% spay/neuter animal rescue. We care for dogs and cats, and small critters.We provide a predominantly foster based model because we believe that companion animals are happier, healthier, and more successfully socialized in a home and family environment. We rescue animals through impounds, shelters, owner surrenders, and lost/stray animals across the state of Minnesota and in southern states through partners organizations. Beyond rescuing animals, we strive to provide educational resources for the public through a variety of community outreach opportunities. We share information on the importance of spaying and neutering, pet health and well-being, body language, behavioral training, and more. Since march of 2010, Ruff Start Rescue has saved over 9,000 dogs and cats. At any given time, our foster network has the capability to foster 300+ animals. Additionally, our network is quickly expanding to meet the needs of the unwanted pet population. For this reason, we rely on fundraisers, private donations, adoption fees, and grants to fund our rescue efforts.

Community Stories

37 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We decided to start fostering April 2020 while we were working from home. Ruff Start was great to work with and so helpful with all our questions. We were asked if we could help out to temp foster a dog in August. That temp foster turned into a foster failure. We ended up adopting Milo - now known as Monty - and he's been the perfect addition to our family! I would recommend RSR to anyone looking to adopt or start their own fostering journey.

Daniel H.5

Client Served

Rating: 1

We foster to adopted a dog that came from Texas from Ruff Start. They were fairly responsive during the fostering and adoption process. I understand this is a non-profit volunteer organization, but communication was not fluid and we were often bounced between multiple people. We loved our dog and she was a sweet girl, but we received concern from multiple vets and trainer regarding aggressive behavior our dog was displaying. This poor review is not about the dog becoming aggressive, rather about the reaction or lack there of from Ruff Start. We started working with a behavioral specialist connected to ruff start but soon after our puppy attack my wife and we made the extremely hard decision to surrender her.

This is where I have a problem with Ruff Start. If you don’t have the perfect adoption and perfect dog fit right away for your family DO NOT use Ruff Start. We became concerned for our health and safety as well as the dogs. We realized she could not succeed in our living arrangements and lifestyle so we opted to work with ruff start on surrendering her. During this process they were hardly responsive to start taking action and never listened to a single thing we said regarding The dogs aggression towards us. They continually down played aggressive behavior as play and judged us as if we couldn’t take care of a dog. During surrender, they not once provided any kind of acknowledgement of the behavior we were seeing from our dog (not to forget it was the professional vets and trainers who raised the concerns). Once our dog was reposted for adoption they never explained any of the behaviors we experienced and used language that made it seem like we harmed this dog and cause the aggression. I hope she is able to find a home that suits her but I fear the lack of transparency will match this dog to another unsuccessful pairing. This organization does not care about treating people with dignity and respect, they seem to care more about animals. Be weary of working with this organization, especially if your are thinking of adopting a dog before meeting it in person.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We adopted both of our cats through Ruffstart and I will always go through them from now on! They made the adoption process easy and made sure we were a good fit for the cats and that the cats were a good fit for us. We adopted Nova in 2017, she was our first animal in our new apartment, and Ruffstart was amazing in handling the whole process and made it easy for us. When we decided to get Echo, our second cat, they let us introduce Nova to him to be sure they would be compatible. We havent regretted one day since and Ruffstart made it all possible. They are such a loving rescue and make sure that every adoption is a great fit for both the animal and the person.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

1) they saved our Bubs from a kill shelter
2) they saved our Bubs from a kill shelter
3) they saved our Bubs from a kill shelter
4) fantastic support throughout the foster and adoption process
5) they go above and beyond to save as many animals as possible
6)they saved my Bubs from a shelter that was going to kill her.

Client Served

Rating: 5

We lost our little dog early this year. It truly left a hole in our hearts and our home so I eventually began looking at dogs online posted through various rescue groups. That is how we found our new dog, Jinx, from Ruff Start Rescue. Right from the beginning, Ruff Start provided detailed and helpful information about Jinx. His bio told us so much about his traits and personality. I love that the rescue offers a foster to adopt program. This means families can truly find the right pet for them and animals coming from out of state can have an actual house to go to right away instead of another shelter environment. Everyone I communicated with was prompt and helpful and the process was very smooth. Since adopting Jinx, I have been so grateful and amazed by the continued support Ruff Start offers through its online groups. They truly are a community of animal lovers who commit to helping all of its pets find happiness. I have personally gotten support for the loss of my dog and for questions regarding Jinx’s picky eating habits. I was also able to connect with another family who recently adopted and set up puppy play dates. I see people post items to donate or offers to help one another out constantly. I feel like everyone just wants to help. I look forward to one day fostering for them and hopefully adopting again!

Jenny R.4

Client Served

Rating: 4

i was looking for a new pet after my dog of many years passed away from cancer. i did started doing searches for rescues hoping to give a 2nd chance to an unwanted dog. i found Ruff Start & browsed their website finding Kayla. Ruff Start has a very thorough process to make sure the adopter is worthy of one of their animals. they even contact your references!
she had never been exposed to cats (i have 2) so the foster mom took her to another foster home that had. i had the home visit, all went well so i adopted her on the spot. this is a very caring group of people & go to great lengths to get neglected/abused animals to a safe environment.

Previous Stories

Client Served

Rating: 5

I used this rescue to get my current dog. They have a very thorough application process to assure the pet gets it's forever home. It was wonderful having Kayla brought to my house to see how she responded to my cats.

Alli F.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We had an amazing experience adopting our beautiful boy, Atlas! They were responsive and caring right from the beginning. They take the time to make sure they are placing all the animals in home that will match the pets and the peoples needs. Thank you Ruff Start for helping this little guy find his forever home!

Roger S.4

Client Served

Rating: 5

I adopted Kasper in 2018 & Mr.BoJangles in 2019. Ruff Star Rescue is the best and were very helpful in my adoption of my 2 boys and as you can see these two boys are loving the rescued life.

Abbigale A.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I adopted my puppy from Ruff Start and they were so easy to work with. They laid out the process step by step so I knew exactly how it would work. The foster was extremely nice and worked with my schedule to arrange pick up and official adoption. The paperwork was very easy and they always responded to my emails. They were willing to answer all my questions and made sure I was ready for my new addition. My Little girl may not be alive if it wasn’t for ruff start. They gave her a fighting chance at life. Now she’s a spoiled love bug I could never life without. I recommend Ruff Start to everyone I hear looking for a place to volunteer, donate, or adopt. They are a great organization that brought me my best friend and companion for life.

Sharon E R.

Client Served

Rating: 5

An organization that truly gives 110% of commitment taking animals in foster care, animals who would be looked over due to unfortunate circumstances and gives them the life they deserve.
Adopted the sweetest, silliest loving dog March 21st 2020.

Lynsey R.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We have adopted our two girls from Ruff Start (2015 and 2017) and then started to foster in 2019. We have since fostered 19 pups so far. In April of this year, I also started volunteering as a foster coordinator to help onboard during the pandemic. I absolutely love this organization from the founder to the volunteers to the fosters. I’m so lucky to have found this organization and to have been introduced to the amazon rescue world because of them!

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

After competing time after time for dogs in other organizations, we decided to go to an adoption event at a local PetSmart. Luckily for us we came across Ruff Start. Years later now, we have adopted our two resident pups from Ruff Start and we are currently in the middle of adopting out our 6th foster. We have loved the kind hearted and selfless volunteers that Ruff Start embodies to save as many animals as possible. They significantly help create a positive culture that welcomes all animal lovers to find their new family members! I cannot recommendation another rescue anymore than Ruff Start!

Rachel L.8

Client Served

Rating: 5

Easily was apply to put in an application for our cat. They communicated regularly during the process and after adoption received many resources for having a cat. I love that all animals stay with foster instead of in a shelter with a bunch of other animals. This allows foster to get to know the animal and help them find the perfect forever home.

Client Served

Rating: 5

We had a great experience. We had lost our precious Howie at 5 years of age. He had a serious liver disease and went downhill fast. We had found him wandering in our campground and after a month no one claimed him so we adopted him. Our hearts were broken when we laid him to rest and we had a hard time getting over him. We started looking for another dog to help us heal and wanted a companion for our 16 year old Kirby. We saw a story about West, now Sawyer and immediately filled out a fta form, kept our hopes low. We were overjoyed to learn we were picked to fafoster to adopt him. He was found wandering the streets of Houston TX. RSR brought him to Minnesota. He was treated for Heartworm and we kept him nonactive for two months. That is difficult for a 1 year old. Surprisingly, he was house trained, was a protector for our 16 year old pup, and pure joy. He has now tested negative for heartworm and is fully integrated into our family. We can't thank RSR enough,for choosing us. Our hearts have healed and he is just precious.

Kassara A.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Ruff Start Rescue is simply amazing. I rescued my beautiful pup Kai through Ruff Start in May 2019 and she has been a bright light in my life ever since! I love that Ruff Start is a foster based Rescue. The Adoption process was seamless and I appreciated the meet and greet and home visit I had with Kai before signing the adoption paper. I was also given a few tips and tricks from the foster which helped Kai feel welcome in her new home!

Since adopting Kai my life has changed for the positive. I always argue that she rescued me when I rescued her. I am A proud volunteer with Ruff Start and use my time and talents to give back to the organization that has given so much to me.

Carrie Christen S.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I first learned about Ruff Start when I was googling looking for a dog, that was 7 years ago! In the past 7 years I have fostered over 20 dogs, adopted 3 of them and have been an internal volunteer for 6 1/2 of those years. I love Ruff Start and everything they work so hard to do to save all animals. I have had the absolute best time meeting other rescue minded people and creating friendships along the way. Thank you Ruff Start!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 1

The director of programs was rather rude in the adoption process of an individual and unwilling to work with a current volunteer/foster in a time of their crisis. I suggest they take a look at mgmt. Otherwise most volunteers and staff in this rescue are wonderful and caring.

Volunteer

Rating: 2

Wanted to love Ruff Start but I feel like their secret is they really don’t care who adopts the dog, just as long as it follows their rule of not living outdoors. I fostered a dog and got pushed into agreeing to adopters that I felt had several red flags and were not the right fit for this dog, got talked down to trying to say it was because it was my first foster, got lectured on things I already knew and was doing, etc. Anyways, fast forward a few months and the dog was returned to the rescue by the adopters. So def not a great experience as a foster.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Watching the news, there was a feature story of a Vintage Fair selling antiques. The reporter focused on Ruff Start Rescue’s booth, showcasing vintage (AKA senior) dogs available for adoption. Genius! Lept to their website and my heart melted when I saw Angell, a rat terrier mix. What to do but submit an adoption application immediately?! Little did I know, Ruff Start Rescue not only adopts out an Angell but had a group of angels working with them. I was contacted within hours to let me know what to expect and Angell’s foster mom contacted me that day to arrange a meet and greet and home visit. Julie, Angell’s AWESOME foster mom, shared Angell’s history, pluses& concerns when she brought Angell by. She wanted the best for Angell and for me and (I believe) worked behind the scenes to have the adoption process move at the speed of sound as Angell was home two days later. She came with a home made blanket Julie and her daughter made, and Ruff Start’s adoption manager did all the paperwork WHILE ON VACATION!!! Every expectation with this non-profit was exceeded and am happy to be writing this while Angell’s on my lap. Photo added so you can see why my heart melted!

DeeDee M.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Great place and great programs for senior dogs they really work hard to save dogs.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We saw Harley Quinn online, we knew she was the one for us! I contacted Ruff Start and said we were very interested in meeting her! Her foster mom was great. She told us all her cute stories. We live 3.5 hours away. Harleys Foster mom was able to bring Harley to us the next day to see if we were a match! We fell in love with Harley from day one! Ruff Start Rescue was very easy to work with! They sent me her vet records. I would adopt another pet through Ruff Start Rescue again! They were wonderful and easy to work with!!

Mary H.7

Client Served

Rating: 5

We adopted our loveable, little Kassie 3 years ago from this wonderful non-profit organization. They do an amazing job of helping pets find their forever homes! We are so blessed to have her in our life!!

Lisa B.14

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We adopted our German Shepherd from Ruff Start. They were excellent to work with, friendly and truly caring. Since adopting, my daughter has participated in a children’s volunteer opportunity with Ruff Start to make cat toys for the cats in their care. She loved the experience and we can’t wait to volunteer again! Our GSD Luna, formerly Willa Mae, has become a gorgeous doggo and has truly become a member of our family.

Sara P.3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We love RSR! We contacted them and it was a very quick response. We met Lewis a day later and he came to his furever home later that week.
Yesterday was our 1 year gotcha day! He is our little stinker and we love him so much!!

Client Served

Rating: 5

From the moment I saw Midge's photo, I knew this was the girl for me. I immediately filled out an application and had amazing help from the people who manage this big rescue operation. Unfortunately, Midge turned out to be pregnant and I had to wait months for her, but the wait was worth it. She had the most amazing foster during the pups' birthing, and then went to another great foster closer to my home. Midge came down with a systemic infection and could no longer nurse her puppies, but the pups thrived and grew big due to the capable fosters that they were given to.

This is an amazing rescue with a truly wonderful track record of finding loving homes for the dogs that they have in their care. It is a daunting endeavor, but they manage to do it with love and compassion and enthusiasm.

Rachel O.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I’m a foster and volunteer with Ruff Start. I have also foster failed on 3 of my fosters. Out of all the non-profits I’ve volunteered for this has been my favorite by far. They are a great group of people who love what they do and are passionate to the core. The longer I’ve been with them the more roles I’ve wanted to take to get involved! I’m an intake coordinator, foster, supply house and an adoption center coordinator! Best decision I ever made was filling out their volunteer application!

Azure D.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have never seen or met more people with the same passion, the same purpose, and the same mentality, to save animals, as those who are apart of Ruff Start Rescue in one way or another. We are a team. We are a family. I may be bias because I started the organization in 2010 but every single day I am blown away by how many like-minded individuals with hearts of gold contribute to make the organization successful. We have been able to save over 11,000 animals in 9 years and we could not do it without the support of our amazing volunteers, fosters, staff, donors, board members, and adopters! We are a professional transparent organization who will never lose sight of the personable interactions we have with not only animals, but humans as well. We are all in this together and together we are making a huge difference for animals AND for people.

Client Served

Rating: 5

They are absolutely fabulous! I have fostered, volunteered for vetting clinics with them, and have a wonderful puppy I adopted from that they brought up from Texas. They helped my vet clinic when we had bottle baby kittens that needed a place to go and went out of their way to do it!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Ruff Start is an amazing organization. They are very easy to work with and their adoption process, while maybe more involved than other rescues or shelters, is in the best interest of the animals. The folks there go out of their way to make sure animals in their care get the best second chance.

Pam Slater L.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I’ve donated to Ruff Start, become a volunteer, adopted one dog, and are likely becoming a foster fail with a second dog. They are supportive through the adoption process, and make sure you know they will continue to support you and answer questions after the adoption is completed.

Client Served

Rating: 5

This is an amazing organization to work with. Very dedicated, kind, knowledgeable, caring people who foster these beautiful animals and make sure they are placed in good homes. It was wonderful when I met my sweet 4 year old dog to see the love the foster mom had for animals. Fostering to forever home is a huge commitment and Ruff Start Rescue gives excellent support throughout the process. I feel very blessed to have been chosen as the forever home for beautiful Indy (aka Abigail). Viv Kloskin

Client Served

Rating: 5

About 5 1/2 years ago we adopted Bosco. RSR was very thorough in the screening process as they are committed to finding homes that will love, respect and provide excellent quality of life for rescued animals. Bosco is part of our family and we couldn’t love him more. Thank you RSR for all you do!

Rachel Rhonemus M.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our home visit happened quickly after submitting our application for adoption and the group was very responsive to our questions. We’ll be back for future fur baby additions

Jenna N.1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Ruff Start Rescue impressed me when I was volunteering at MACC. They came to the rescue to save so many dogs in their last hour, the pit bulls, the ones that got left behind. And the people doing it were such great, genuine people. I’ve been a big supporter ever since. I’m so grateful for Ruff Start!

1 Sara H.5

Client Served

Rating: 5

I can't rave enough about RSR! I followed RSR for a while and when we contemplated adopting a 2nd dog, we looked there first. A few dogs we liked already had applications, but someone mentioned the Foster to Adopt program, and wondered if I'd be interested in that. We were, so we signed on to FTA, and got our dog Gigi (FKA Angela).

Since that was a total success, I volunteered to foster a special medical case, Lexi Ann, who would need some around-the-clock care after being badly burned in a house fire. Since I work from home, I thought I could take on the opportunity to help her heal. From day 1, everyone at RSR was so great! They were there when we had sleepless nights, when she hit healing milestones, when we had rad days and bad days, and they were there when we said our "see ya laters" to her as she rode home with her Forever Family.

Every day that I get to smooch on our girl Gigi and see her paying with her big sister makes me so happy someone mentioned the FTA program! And when I get text updates and see photos of Lexi being so happy and healthy, I am thankful that RSR trusted me to help her find her forever. They are a great bunch of people with HUGE hearts and lots of wisdom they willingly share so that everyone is a success.

RSR is a great organization to be a part of in any capacity!

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

Ruff Start Rescue is a nonprofit animal rescue that started in 2010 by a small group of people in Princeton, MN. This rescue has saved over 850 animals in less than 3 years. The rescue is foster based and has over 100+ foster homes throughout central MN. This rescue has a great core team of volunteers that work together to save lives.