These SoCal animal rescue groups count on you to help spare lives

Pet adoption groups are united in their animal-saving mission — and in their passion, a trait that sometimes gets them labeled as fanatics and perceived as a little off-kilter. Yet the most passionate people are often perfectly suited for the needs of their favorite animals, especially those that have been abused or have health problems. But discord divides adoption groups too. Organizations and individuals alike are criticized for being too lax or too strict with adoption standards and animal care; some are labeled attention-hogs who thrive on rescue heroics and pity.

Many rescue groups function as a sort of halfway house for abandoned animals. They work with city and county shelters to relieve crowding and, in their homes, deal with some of the difficult cases: kittens, pregnant animals, skittish pets and the unwell that need special attention. Once the animals are rehabilitated, they depend on pet stores, farmers markets and other retail outlets to host adoption events. If you're unsure about the group or the animal, ask the rescue to refer you to the vet that the group works with regularly. If they don't have a vet, that's a red flag.

There is no shortage of sources should you want to adopt a pet, provide a foster home for an animal or otherwise get involved.

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Gone-to-the-Dogs Rescue Inc. The all-volunteer, all-foster Redondo Beach rescue advocates for pet spaying and neutering and rescues pets in danger of euthanization at the highest-kill shelters in Kern, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties. http://www.gonetothedogsrescue.org

Dogs Without Borders The nonprofit small-dog rescue organization is a network of foster caretakers who rescue stray and abandoned dogs. The group holds seven adoption fairs each month at area pet stores. http://www.dogswithoutborders.org

The Pepper Foundation The nonprofit rescue organization is dedicated to rescuing abandoned special-needs and senior dogs from high-kill shelters and to provide each animal with immediate veterinary care and foster homes until a permanent home is found. http://www.thepepperfoundation.org

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Precious Pals Pet Rescue The Encino-based nonprofit concentrates on small-breed dogs, including seniors and dogs with medical issues, from Los Angeles county and city shelters. http://www.preciouspalspetrescue.org

Dharma Rescue The nonprofit, Torrance-based Dharma Rescue for cats and dogs is a foster network dedicated to providing shelter, spaying/neutering, medical care and rehabilitation, often with a holistic approach. http://www.dharmarescue.org

Whiskers & Tails The volunteer, nonprofit pet rescue based in Rancho Palos Verdes focuses on cats, dogs and barnyard animals. http://www.whiskerstails.org

Forgotten Angels Cat Rescue The nonprofit, volunteer cat rescue operates adoptions and outreach programs focused on spaying and neutering feral and abandoned cats to reduce the homeless cat population. http://www.forgottenangelsrescue.org

Furever Purr Rescue The volunteer rescue group aims to rescue unwanted and abandoned cats and kittens from Southern California shelter. www.fureverpurrrescue.org

Milo's Sanctuary & Special Needs Cat Rescue The Burbank-based nonprofit was founded on the belief that all cats deserve a second chance at life, especially those that have physical disabilities, are seniors, have a terminal illness or have been abused and need someone to care for, love and understand them. www.milossanctuary.org

Grand-Paws Senior Sanctuary The group rescues primarily large-breed senior dogs from high-kill shelters for adoption or retirement at the sanctuary. http://www.grandpawsrescue.org

PetConnect.Us The networking group, through its website and nearly 80,000 Facebook fans, helps spread awareness and rescue of shelter animals that are in immediate danger of being euthanized. petconnect.us

No-Kill Los Angeles This is a Best Friends Animal Society initiative that brings together individuals, shelters and a coalition of animal welfare organizations to end the killing of dogs and cats in shelters throughout L.A. by 2017. nkla.org/adopt-a-pet/pet-adoption-center

Pug Nation Rescue of L.A. Torrance-based Pug Nation Rescue is a nonprofit rescue organization and shelter dedicated to the rescue, care and placement of abandoned and abused pugs. http://www.pugnationla.org

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