API Terms of Service

Effective: October 3rd, 2021


We’re glad you’re here, and we want to thank you for helping the animal rescue and shelter organizations that use our service.

The following is the API Terms of Service (the “Terms”) for the RescueGroups.org application programming interface (the “API”) used to access data from rescue and shelter organizations (the “API data”).  The API data encompasses all information, data, files, and pictures that are accessible via the API.

It is the intention of RescueGroups.org to provide ongoing and uninterrupted access to the API for all individuals and all companies in an effort to improve the lives of needy animals and their caretakers.

You must accept these Terms in order to use the API.

If you have any questions about these Terms or how they may affect you and your services please contact us at support@rescuegroups.org.


Subject to your compliance with the restrictions below, we grant you a limited, non-exclusive, non-transferable and revocable license to access the API and associated documentation to develop, test, and support your websites, services, products, and applications (your “services”).

You may charge a fee for your services, however you may not sell, rent, or lease access to the API or the API data.

Access to the API will be provided by an API Key.  Information provided by you will be associated with your API Key including but not limited to your name, email address, company, and public URL to the service where the data will be used.

Acceptable Use

The API may be used for lawful purposes only.

You may not at any time violate any security processes to access the API. You may not access the API in any way that poses a security or stability issue for our services or the services of our users. You may not access our API in order to reverse engineer, duplicate, or replicate our API or our services.

Use of the API data shall be described in the API Key information including valid name, company, contact information, and description.  Use of the data for any service that provides features other than those described in the API Key will be considered a violation of these terms.

Explanation: Each organization can decide to share or not share their public information with you.  That decision is based on the information you provide in the API Key, including the link to your service, and the categories for the service. Providing inaccurate or misleading information prevents the organization from making a proper decision.

Educational Purposes

We welcome your use of the API for educational purposes. Your API key should list “Self - educational project” as your company and “None” as the URL to your website.

Your API key should be updated immediately if your project is publicly accessible.  All data and copies of the data should be deleted when the project is complete.

Availability of the API

RescueGroups.org provides the API as best-effort and does not provide any warranty or guarantee concerning the API or its availability.

Limitations on Liability

The API is provided “as-is” on an “as-available” basis.  RescueGroups.org may not be held liable for the availability, or unavailability of the API, or the accuracy or inaccuracy of the API data.  RescueGroups.org makes no warranty that the API will be without error or that access to the API will be continuous or uninterrupted.

You agree to hold RescueGroups.org, its contractors, employees, and agents harmless from any and all claims including attorney’s fees, arising out of your use of the API, including but not limited to violation of this agreement.

Explanation: Although we do not guarantee availability, we have a very good track record. For over 10 years, we’ve provided reliable API service to some of the largest animal welfare websites like ASPCA and Best Friends. Our own public and private services rely on the same API you will be using. Therefore, we strive for 100% uptime and availability.

Rate Limiting

We ask that you take steps to avoid flooding the API with requests.  The API may return an HTTP Status Code of 429 if we detect that your service is flooding our system.

Data Handling and Hosting

Data Rights

These Terms do not grant you any rights to the data accessed through the API other than for temporary use and display in your services. The data may be temporarily cached in your system for use in your applications.

You may not share data with other parties or use the data with any website or service other than what is specifically described in your API Key without the express permission of RescueGroups.org.

If you provide more than one service you must obtain separate API Keys for each.  RescueGroups.org may provide an exception for you for this requirement under certain circumstances.

Explanation: Your API Key may be displayed to our users along with a link to your service. Because each organization has the option to disable sharing data with your service, each service must be listed individually for transparency.


RescueGroups.org will be responsible for all hosting necessary to provide the API.  You are responsible for all hosting, processing, and transfer fees incurred by your application.

RescueGroups.org may, at our discretion, provide image hosting and temporary storage for offline cached data.

Explanation: You may use image URLs that utilize the RescueGroups.org hosting. However, if your application causes undue load or cost we may request with 30-days notice that you provide your own image hosting.

Data Updates and Removal

If your service caches data from the API, you shall update that data on a schedule.  We recommend updating daily, but no less frequently than weekly.  You will evaluate your update schedule on an as-needed basis.

You shall have the ability to remove an organization’s data within 1 business day on request from RescueGroups.org. This removal should be independent of the update schedule such that an organization can be removed from your service even if the scheduled updates are not functioning.

Explanation: There are some circumstances where an organization’s data needs to be deleted immediately, such as invalid postings, and organization request.  This happens rarely, but it is critical that you can remove that data immediately.

Data Removal on Termination

All copies of the data, including backups, and all information derived or extracted from the data must be immediately removed if your access to the API is terminated.

Data Use

API servers 

RescueGroups.org provides both a production and test environment for our API users. While API users may access either server for testing their applications, only production data should be used on production services. You are not permitted to use data you retrieve from the Test servers in publicly accessible services.

Logo and Attribution

RescueGroups.org does not require any attribution or logo in your Service when using our API or API data.  However, if a link or attribution is included, it should be “Powered by RescueGroups.org” or similar and link to our main corporate website.

Explanation: RescueGroups.org specifically does not require a link to our website or pet listing because we believe it would be self-serving. We greatly appreciate your optional link to our website. Our non-competitive model encourages collaboration among organizations that share the same market space.

Pet Adoption Tracker

The Pet Adoption Tracker is a tracker image equivalent to Google Analytics and other website reporting tools.  Pet Adoption Tracker reports provide much needed information back to the rescues and shelters about where their pets are being seen on the Internet.

If your API Key is displaying animals and organization data to the public, every pet detail page must contain the included Pet Adoption Tracker image.  If your application is hosted locally or for private/educational purposes you are not required to use the Tracker image.

The Tracker image is already included in all HTML animal descriptions. However, if you chose to use the text version of the animal description you must also include the animal-specific tracker image.

Data Privacy

Your service must provide a privacy policy that describes how you use and share data.  You must promptly notify us via email to support@rescuegroups.org of any security or data breaches of your service.

Suspension and Termination

In cases where you may be able to remedy an issue we may contact you instead of intervening. If you fail to respond in three business days, we will consider you in violation of these terms.

Your use of the API may be suspended or terminated if we find your information is inaccurate or misleading, or if we believe that you are in violation of these Terms.

Your API Key may be disabled if it is not used for 90 days. If your key expires due to inactivity, and you would like to reactivate it, please contact our support team at support@rescuegroups.org with your reactivation request and your expired API Key.

Your Relationship with RescueGroups.org

Your API Key

You will update your service information immediately with any changes, including contact email address, status of your service (publicly accessible or private), and the categories of services you provide.  You should update your API Key directly, or by contacting RescueGroups.org at support@rescuegroups.org.


RescueGroups.org provides best-effort support of our API.  The good news is that our API developers are in-house, and we often can provide excellent help with your development project. However, we cannot and do not provide any expectation of support response time.

Feedback and Suggestions

Feedback and suggestions concerning the API or these API Terms can be sent to RescueGroups.org at support@rescuegroups.org.