Frequently Asked Questions


Adopting an Animal

Are the animals spayed/neutered?

Yes, all animals must be spayed or neutered prior to official adoption, unless doing so would be dangerous to the animal’s health. If the animal is not yet fixed, you have the opportunity to foster them until their surgery date.


How much do you know about the animal I may want to adopt?

If the animal is an owner surrender, we do our best to get as much information as possible about the animal from the owner. If the animal comes in as a stray or from local animal control, we try to evaluate the animal and gain as much information as possible regarding the animal’s behaviors and general health. We will always disclose everything we know about an animal prior to adopting them out. However, please know that animals can be unpredictable and sometimes the behaviors they exhibit in the shelter will be different than what you see at home.

How do I found out if I am compatible with the animal?

We encourage you to come and visit a pet you might like to adopt multiple times. You can spend one-on-one time with the animal in our introduction room or an outside kennel.  If you have other pets at home, you can also bring your pet(s) to see if they will get along with the pet you are thinking of adopting. Once you take an animal home, you have a period of time to decide if the animal will be compatible. If things are not going well, we ask that you contact us right away so we can talk with you about any problems. If you decide you need to return the animal, you can bring it back and will receive a voucher good for another pet at Great River Rescue.

Can I adopt more than one animal?

You can adopt more than one animal at any time, as long as you have the time and/or resources to provide great care and a good home. If you rent, you must verify with your landlord that you are allowed to have pet(s) on the property.

Is there a fee for adopting an animal?

Yes, cat adoptions are $115 including tax, and dog adoptions are $225 including tax. This adoption fee covers the animal’s spaying/neutering, all basic kennel vaccinations, flea or tick treatments, and ear checks for infection or mites. Basic kennel vaccinations for cats include FVRCP distemper boosters, Rabies vaccine, and de-worming. Basic kennel vaccinations for dogs include DA2PP boosters, Intra-trac III for kennel cough, and de-worming.

What if things don’t work out? Can I bring the animal back?

You are offered an unspecified trial period with your new pet. We ask that you contact us right away if things are not working out.  If you decide you need to return the animal, you will be given a voucher for another pet at Great River Rescue.


Do you provide receipts for donated items?

All donors giving $250 or more in the course of a year are mailed a receipt after the conclusion of our fiscal year (Dec. 31).  Please request a receipt for any individual items at the time of donation if you need it. If you donate through an online source like Facebook, you will need to obtain your receipt from that source.

Are my cash donations tax deductible?

Yes, all donations are tax deductible. We are a 501-c3 licensed facility.

What do you do with the money?

We use all donations to provide necessary animal medical care, cover spay and neuter costs, provide quality care and comforts for each animal during their daily living, and cover operational costs as we house these animals. You can designate your donation to be applied to the fund of your choice.

Can I purchase items from your wish list and drop them off at the shelter?

At any time you desire, you are welcome to purchase any items of your choice to be used for the animals at our facility. We also provide a Shelter Wish List with more frequently used items for your information. Thank you in advance for your help! You can view our wish list here | Wish List

Can I make a donation online?

You can make a donation online by click on the “Donate Today” button in the sidebar to the right. You will be directed to PayPal, a very well known and reputable secure payment processing website. Fill in your credit card information and follow the directions on the screen. We will be notified about your donation and will confirm its receipt. You can also donate online via the donate link under the “how to help” tab at the top of the page. Thank you in advance for your help!

Volunteering at the Shelter

How old do I have to be to volunteer at GRR?

You must be 16 years old to volunteer at the shelter. If you are between ages 13-15, you must have a certified volunteer parent/guardian with you at all times. Children under 13 are not allowed to work directly with the animals. You must also attend Volunteer Training prior to becoming a volunteer. Get more information on our volunteer page | Volunteer Page

What kind of work could I do for GRR?

There are many types of jobs you can do at the shelter. Volunteers can walk dogs, play with cats (in designated areas), help with grooming animals, bathing dogs, assist in heavy duty facility cleaning (i.e. washing floors, windows or walls), bleaching & disinfecting kennels, helping pick up supplies, delivering animals to clinic appointments, helping with fundraisers, occasional data entry help, or even become a board member.  As you can see, there are lots of ways to help! You can see our full list of volunteer opportunities at the Volunteer Bemidji Website.

Do you provide training for volunteers?

Volunteer trainings are currently hosted online. Once you apply to become a volunteer, you will be re-directed to our online video training and quiz. Once you view our video, you will take a short quiz regarding the information you just learned.

What kind of time commitment is involved?

Time commitments for volunteering at GRR vary according to your schedule, however, a regular daily or weekly schedule is preferred. Most volunteer opportunities occur within our regular business hours.

How do I become a GRR foster home provider?

To become a GRR foster home provider you must fill out a foster home application first. Once submitted, we will review it and get back to you with any questions. Foster home providers are typically used for animals that are pregnant or nursing, recovering from an injury, or are not thriving in the shelter setting.

You can fill out an online application here | Foster Home Application

About GRR

Do you take any other animals besides cats and dogs?

No, we only take in cats and dogs at our facility. We do not accept birds, rabbits, reptiles, or any other creatures.

How many animals can the shelter care for at one time?

We house a maximum of 45 cats and 25 dogs on any given day, but try to maintain a lower number. The fewer animals in the shelter, the healthier and more adoptable they are! We can only take animals as space and resources allow, and we do maintain a waiting list. Animals are taken in by appointment only. The kennel coordinator calls those on the waiting list to set up intake appointments. We do not take in feral, or otherwise aggressive animals, as they would be unsafe for staff to handle.

What do you mean by a “no-kill” shelter?

A “no-kill” shelters means that we do not euthanize an animal just to make space for other animals in our shelter. We only euthanize an animal if they are suffering greatly and are not likely to recover.

What happens to an animal when they come to the shelter?

When we receive an animal, it goes through our intake process, which includes completion of paperwork, an evaluation, vaccinations, and kennel placement. Stray animals are always held for a minimum of 10 days (some of which may include time in the pound) to allow for them to be reclaimed. Surrendered animals may become available for adoption as soon as the next day. All animals are carefully assessed and observed for behavior traits and signs of illness or injury.

Do you work with any agencies in the area?

We are highly committed to networking with other area agencies and or communities to find the best placement for our animals. We are currently members of the MnPAW coalition, which is a collection of shelters and rescues in the state which collaborate regularly. Learn more about our partnerships here | Partnerships Blog

How can I learn more about the work of GRR?

We are always welcome to teaching others about the work we do and the importance of responsible pet care. If you are the leader of a group and would like to set up a tour or presentation, call us at 218-751-7910 to set something up. More information about this can be found on our educational opportunities page: Educational Opportunities Page

If You Find an Animal:

I found a stray or abandoned animal, what should I do?

If you find an abandoned or stray animal, you can call our facility to get added to our waiting list, and surrender the animal at a later date when our shelter has the space available. Other options include calling your local animal control officer or police department to pick up this animal, or reporting them as being lost; running a free lost/found ad in your local newspaper; making a post on Craig’s List or the Bemidji Area Lost and Found Animals page on Facebook; or take care of and find a home for this animal on your own. Our “Resources” tab at the top of the page also has some online re-homing sources as well.

Township Animal Control (covers Bemidji, Northern, Frohn, Grant Valley, Ten Lakes, & Port Hope Townships, as well as the City of Tenstrike): 218-760-6651

City of Bemidji Animal Control: 218-333-9111, extension #2

 View our Lost & Found Page

Learn more about what to do from our partner Best Friends of Animals Society | Best Friends of Animals Society Website

Learn more about Community Cats from our partner Alley Cat Allies | Alley Cat Website

Download the “what to do if you find a stray kitten” poster | Kittens Found Outdoors Poster

I can’t take care of my animals anymore, what should I do?

If you are unable to take care of your animals anymore, you can call us to be added to our intake waiting list. We will want to know more about your situation and the medical and behavior history of the animal. Our goal is to help you keep your animal in your home if at all possible. Please also talk to your local veterinarian regarding options with your animal, or find a new home on your own. It is ILLEGAL to abandon an animal at any time, and you will be prosecuted if found guilty of this act. Please note that we maintain a waiting list of people with animals waiting to surrender to our shelter. We will add your information to our list, and call you when we get to your name on our list.

Great River Rescue also operates a Home To Home website which allows you to re-home your animal without bringing it to the shelter. Check our our Home To Home site here | Home To Home


Learn more about re-homing your pet from our partner the Best Friends of Animals Society | Best Friends of Animals Society Website

I found an injured animal, what should I do?

If you find an injured animal, call your local veterinarian. We do not have an  onsite veterinarian or equipment to treat an injured animal.

Great River Rescue