American Tortoise Rescue was founded by husband-and-wife team Susan Tellem and Marshall Thompson, who began advocating for the humane treatment of animals after adopting a pair of desert-tortoise hatchlings. Since that first adoption, American Tortoise Rescue has rescued more than 3,000 turtles and tortoises of various land and water species, focusing efforts on abused turtles or those with special needs, and has expanded its scope to the treatment of these animals worldwide.
At American Tortoise Rescue's facility, approximately 100 animals live in an enclosure that mimics the wild, having freedom to play on the ground or in the water. Sick turtles receive medical care and stay in the house until they are healthy enough to go outside. To supplement its rescue efforts, the organization also provides information and awareness about the care and rehabilitation of tortoises for the public, and works to prevent the sale of hatchlings, the importation and live-market slaughter of adult turtles, and the destruction of the desert-tortoise habitat.