How To Research A Ferret Shelter Facility or Individual Rescuer
Following are some suggestions for dependable resources to research a business, organization or individual offering sheltering services.
This nonprofit site maintains basic information & copies of required IRS filings for all 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. It can tell you if the organization retains their tax exempt status. Free registration allows you to read annual tax reports. Nonprofits do not pay taxes but must provide information which varies based on their annual budget. A “postcard” 990-N is for groups with less than $50,000 revenue. 990-EZ is for groups with income up to $200,000. Form 990 is required for larger groups or may be completed by smaller charities that prefer to show more detailed finances.
State Department of Consumer Protection (department may vary by state)
Many states require charities register in order to solicit funds. Visit the facility’s state government website to see if the organization is complying with regulations. Note: Countries outside the US usually have their own version of charity registries; please research in your specific nation.
State Veterinarian (sometimes under Department of Agriculture or similar)
States may require any animal shelter be licensed and/or inspected on a periodic basis. Review the specific state website for more information.
Better Business Bureau
Through its Wise Giving Alliance, the Better Business Bureau rates charities that are either self-enrolled or those for whom a request has been made for review.
American Institute of Philanthropy
CharityWatch is a nationally prominent charity rating and evaluation service dedicated to helping donors make informed giving decisions. Typically only evaluates very large organizations.
Smaller shelters that do not have on-staff medical personnel depend upon privately-owned veterinary hospitals for animal medical care. If asked, reputable shelters or sanctuaries should be able to provide at least one vet office that can confirm they are a client in good standing and verify how long they have been associated with the shelter.
Even – or especially – if local municipal animal control does not handle ferrets, they should be aware of or have worked with the local shelter that does. Many ACOs do not mince words and will be happy to confirm if a shelter is well-operated. Even private home-based shelters should be willing to allow town animal control to visit.
In the end, it remains your responsibility to make sure you are dealing with a facility where animals are appropriately housed, cleaned, and cared for. Don’t rely solely on a nicely designed website or Facebook profile. Larger shelters have standard operating hours listed. Smaller or home-based ones often work by appointment only, but usually will post open houses or adoption day events. Networks of foster homes may have no central shelter office. CALL or EMAIL to ask about seeing the shelter in person. You can ask for references from former adopters as well.