How to Create an Animal Rescue Website

In an incredibly digitally connected world, being able to be found on the web is important for the animals you work to save. Exposure to your mission, the ability to share a link, and a grouped display of animals looking for homes or assistance can be invaluable in building the impact of your animal rescue or shelter for animals.

Preparation work

For any well-executed project, having a plan and the necessary elements collected before starting it can make it more effective, a website is no different. These steps can help you feel confident creating your animal rescue website.

Prep Work #1 – Research and Determine What You Need

Get an idea of ​​your wants and needs by searching similar animal welfare organization websites. Look for organizations that will have programs similar to yours, such as TNR, low-cost verification assistance, microchip events/clinics, etc. This will help you determine what pages you’ll need, the type of content you’ll need to put together, and you. You will start to get an idea of ​​the type of design you want to portray for your rescue’s brand or personality.

Prep Work #2 – Choose a Domain and Hosting Platform

Buy a domain and choose a website hosting platform. A domain is the URL that people visit to see your website (for example: “”). Many shelters and animal shelters choose to have their domain name be the name of their organization. For example, an animal rescue organization called Rescue Theory chose as their domain. Hosting is a service that allows your website to be found and viewed on the World Wide Web. There are even some platforms where you can buy a domain and host your website all in one, like with Pawlytics’!

Preparatory work n°3 – Budget

For your final prep work, it’s important to set aside a reasonable budget for building a website. With website design and maintenance, you get what you pay for. You can expect a new website build to cost between $500 and $5,000 for a basic, modern, responsive and accessible website. A clean, well-maintained website is worth the effort and crucial to expanding the impact of your animal rescue or shelter.

Building the website

The first step in creating your website will be to determine which pages you need to get started. Don’t worry about missing details or striving for perfection. Your website will always be evolving and growing and it’s more important to start somewhere! Your prep work above should help you define your first set of website pages. Many rescues will include pages such as:

  • Home/home page
    • This is the page that people see first when they visit your domain.
  • Mission and About Us Page
    • This page should describe the type of work your organization does. It can answer questions like: Do you have any special programs? Do you help certain types of animals? What is the reason your rescue started doing the work it does? Where are you located or what locations do you serve?
  • Adoptable Animals Page
    • This page should make it easy to have a quick and global view of the animals that need a home or assistance. Pawlytics can update your listings as often as 20 minutes when combined with PetFinder, saving you valuable volunteer hours.
  • Adoption Process and Survey Page
    • This page generally describes what a potential adopter can expect once they submit an adoption inquiry or express interest in adoption.
  • Get Involved/Volunteer Information Page
    • This page generally makes it easy for people to get involved in helping save your pet. This can range from the need for donated supplies, food, or sponsorship of sick animals…to the need for photographers, dog walkers, or even cat fosters.
  • Donation page
    • This page should reduce any barriers to donating to your organization. Using a built-in donation widget, such as the one offered by Pawlytics, can increase donations by allowing the donor to easily enter their own information and instantly receive their donation receipt. Many shelters and animal shelters will indicate what certain donation amounts can do. For example: $10 = 2 bowls of dog food up to $1,500 = heartworm treatment
  • Others
    • Depending on your animal shelter or shelter’s unique programs, you may need additional web pages to describe and illustrate your services to the public.

For each page, it is important to determine the specific objective or goal. Is it to collect donations? Is it to encourage more people to register with a host family? Is it to showcase adoptable pets? Knowing what you want the page visitor to understand or act on will help you craft the right message and page design.

Keep the design modern and responsive

Keep the page design modern and make sure the website is responsive, meaning it looks good and works on many screen sizes such as smartphones, tablets and desktops. Animal shelters or shelters with outdated websites can give a viewer the impression that your organization is no longer active. A good, clean website design also helps build relationships with adopters, donors, and others visiting your website to learn more about what you do and how they can best support your work .

search engine optimization

Just because you’re on the Internet doesn’t necessarily mean people can easily find your website. Remember, there are millions and millions of websites competing for attention online and even many other animal shelters and shelters. In order to be searchable on search engines like Google or Bing, you will need to plan “search engine optimization” or SEO into your website copy or text. Think about what your audience would type into Google to find what you offer. Be sure to indicate the location of your rescue or shelter and/or the area it serves. Be specific and instead of just saying “Minneapolis”, try “Minneapolis, Minnesota” since there is also Minneapolis, Kansas. There are so many common or similar names in the animal welfare world that providing your specific location could make all the difference in being found by someone in your community. For example, people might search for “Adopt a dog in Lincoln, Nebraska” rather than just “Adopt a dog.”

Additional Tips

It can be easy to get excited about the potential of a website in its grandest, most “final” state. The reality is that the more pages, complexity and tasks your website has, the more difficult, time-consuming and expensive it will be to create and maintain. Managing websites and keeping them up to date as technology and public expectations evolve is no easy feat if done right. Do your best to make it less custom or overly complex so that it is easy and reasonably affordable to maintain. This will also allow you to make changes, additions, or deletions to your website faster. As a final little reminder, don’t forget to link your animal shelter or shelter’s social media accounts to make it easier to find and support your animal welfare organization on different platforms.

Interested in a new website and database for your animal rescue or shelter?

Try Pawlytics! Book a quick 15 minute appointment with me, Lizz, founder and CEO of Pawlytics. Our web developmentpurr The program is a ready-to-use solution that can help you quickly create a modern website with a comprehensive back-end database to manage your pets, adopters, donations and much more!

A website can be invaluable in boosting the impact of your animal rescue or animal shelter.


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