Ruff Start Rescue is a foster-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit companion animal rescue that primarily serves communities throughout the state of Minnesota, as well as states in the south with severe pet overpopulation. We rescue stray, neglected, abandoned, and surrendered dogs and cats as well as ferrets, guinea pigs, rabbits, and other critters. Most of our work is accomplished by a complex network of volunteers, fosters, and supporters, all of whom come together to save thousands of animals each year.

Kennel license issued by the MN Board of Animal Health #MN939947 – RSR is 100% foster-based but has kennels for temp housing.

The First Step in Finding Your your New Best Friend

Since our inception, we’ve firmly believed that a home is usually a far more desirable environment than a shelter or a kennel for most companion animals in need of an adoptive home. As a result, we rely nearly exclusively on volunteers to provide foster homes for rescued pets until they find their adoptive homes.

Each pet in our care is provided with routine vaccinations, spay/neuter procedures, microchipped, given internal and external parasite preventatives, and tested for common bloodborne pathogens such as heartworm and feline leukemia. Advanced veterinary care is provided to any animal that requires such services before adoption.

Please note: this means no animals are available at our facility for public viewing. If you are interested in meeting the animals we currently have for adoption, please visit our Adoption Process page.

Our Mission & Vision

Our vision is simple: We strive for a world where every companion animal has a safe and loving home and their family has the knowledge and resources needed to give them the life they deserve.

Because of this, we’ve made it our mission to do whatever we can to make that a reality for animals and their people who are in need every single day. We help animals in a variety of situations, including those surrendered, found stray, humanely trapped, and more.

However, because we don’t have a shelter, we can only take new animals in when we have a vacant foster home willing and able to take the animal in. This commitment sometimes severely limits the number of animals we are able to take in at one time as well as the kind of animals that are eligible to enter our care.

More information about Ruff Start’s mission, vision, and values can be found on our Mission & Impact page.

Who We Are

We are a team comprised of staff, volunteers, and fosters who are all devoted to the future of animal welfare and rescue. Get to know our team, from our veterinary staff to the friendly faces who answer your adoption inquiries.


In 2010, saving animals was just a past-time for Azure Davis, a young woman from the countryside who had loved caring for animals in need since she was young. But after she saw an emaciated pitbull mix named Hope running out of time at a shelter in Ohio, she knew it was time to make a difference – in both Hope’s life and the future of animal welfare, forever.

Ruff Start Rescue