Animal Rescue Charities

I hope if you're a pet lover, you will find it in your heart to support animal rescue charities. You can do this through financial donations, fostering, or volunteering your time. The majority of animal rescue charities are non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations, totally dependent on donations from individuals and organizations. Donations are tax-deductible.

If I had an abundance of money, it would still be hard to decide which agency to give a donation, as there are so many that are worthy. It's simply a personal choice, but I hope you'll pick one or two. Maybe three!

Pure Breed Rescue

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If you have a favorite breed of dog, you might want to give to an organization dedicated to the rescue of that particular breed. Visit The American Kennel Club to find information on purebred rescue.

Search Dog Foundation

Americans and the rest of the civilized world were all horrified by the tragedy of 911 and one of one of my favorite charities since then has been the Search Dog Foundation. I became aware of the canine search and rescue teams and their work after the disaster. The dogs and their handlers worked continuously to search for and recover victims.

The Foundation rescues dogs and partners them with firefighters and other first responders. These dogs and their handlers find people buried alive in the wreckage of disasters. The dogs also search for missing people, those who are lost in earthquakes and hurricanes, mud and snow slides, car and train crashes, and natural disasters, both in the United States and throughout the world. They train the dogs at no cost to fire departments and first responders and ensure lifetime care for every dog in their program at a cost of approximately $10,000 for each dog.

See the dogs in action.

Dogs for the Disabled

Another special organization NEADS - Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans established in 1976 uses rescued dogs to assist the deaf and physically disabled with various special needs. These dogs serve many roles including:

  • Balance dogs - trained to assist people who use canes or crutches to help them with stability
  • Dogs for injured veterans
  • Hearing dogs
  • Ministry dogs - these dogs accompany the minister on his visits to parishioners in distress.
  • Service dogs for the physically disabled
  • Service dogs for the classroom to help children who have physical, emotional or developmental disabilities.
  • Social dogs - trained to assist children and adults who can benefit from the therapeutic value of a dog
  • Specialty dogs - trained to provide assistance for multiple disabilities.
  • Halter (Autism) dogs - trained to stop children from bolting or putting themselves into harms way

Dogs for the disabled

Best Friends Animal Society

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Best Friends Animal Society: "A better world through kindness to animals: kindness to animals builds a better world for all of us." Since its inception in the late 1980's, Best Friends' mission has been to place dogs and cats who were considered "unadoptable" into good homes, and to reduce the number of unwanted pets through effective spay and neuter programs.

During their early days, roughly 17 million dogs and cats were being killed in shelters every year. Now about 4 to 5 million dogs and cats are euthanized yearly. Still WAY TOO high, but the numbers have decreased considerably because of the work of agencies like Best Friends Animal Society. This charitable group works with other humane groups, individuals, and communities to set up spay/neuter, shelter, foster and adoption programs throughout the country. They also are a leader in animal rescue efforts, including natural disasters and wartime situations. They provide education and help communities set up and manage shelters, rescues, adoptions, and spay/neuter programs. Funding is provided entirely through private donations.

American Humane

American Humane has been working since 1877 with its mission being "to create a more humane and compassionate world by ending abuse and neglect of children and animals.” This worthy organization is involved in many animal welfare activities including:

  • Domestic violence shelters and safe houses to accommodate residents’ pets allowing victims to flee domestic violence situations without fear of leaving their animals behind in a possibly harmful situation.
  • Protecting animals by increasing animal adoptions and reducing pet overpopulation; rescuing animals in natural disasters, training shelter professionals, advocating for more humane policies; and the public nationwide.
  • Training volunteer teams to conduct animal-assisted activities and therapy visits in health care and school settings.
  • Providing funding for medical care for dogs to treat often life-threatening injuries resulting from abuse and neglect.
  • Educating the public about the link between violence toward people and violence toward animals.
  • Ensuring animals used in the film and television industries are treated within the required standard of care.


Here's a super simple and fun way to help a dog in need. If you use Facebook put the Adopt-a-Dog application on your page. For every 2,500 points you score, a financial equivalent of a cup of food is donated to help an animal rescue group in need. The more points you earn, the more dogs you help save! Earn points by referring others or fostering a virtual dog.

If you're not a Facebook user, here's Save-a-Dog's main site, DogTime.

Save a dog

PetSmart Charities

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PetSmart Charities works with animal-welfare agencies to help pets throughout the United States and Canada.

PetSmart Charities provide emergency relief funding and supplies to assist pets in three different types of situations:

  • Large-scale disaster (e.g. hurricanes, fire and other natural catastrophes)
  • Multiple-animal rescue disaster
  • One-animal victim of abuse/violence

They also provide in-store adoption programs for partner animal adoption agencies to bring their homeless pets to adoption centers located inside PetSmart® stores.

Another awesome service is their "Rescue Waggin'® Program" where they transport dogs and puppies from areas of high pet overpopulation to shelters in areas where adoptable dogs are in demand.

Visit their site to read about the numerous other services they provide to animal rescue charities.

Adopt a Pet

If you are not currently in the position to make a financial donation to your favorite animal rescue charity, there are other ways you can help. Volunteer your time or put a link on your blog or website.

Adopt a Pet allows animal shelter and rescue groups to list their available dogs and cats in need of adoption.

The Animal Rescue Site

Here's another simple way to help. Each click on the purple banner below provides food and care for a rescued animal living in a shelter or sanctuary. Funding is paid by site sponsors and distributed to animals in need including pet shelters supported by the North Shore Animal League.

The Animal Rescue Site is a wonderful site that provides free and low-cost technology services to animal rescue charities and welfare groups you see on the internet.

Charity Evaluator

"America's premier independent charity evaluator, works to advance a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace by evaluating the financial health of over 5,500 of America's largest charities."

When you donate to animal rescue charities you want to make sure the majority of your donation goes to the charity itself, not toward administrative costs. Charity Evaluator allows you to view how much of a charity's budget goes toward program expenses, administrative expenses, and fund raising expenses.

Here's a handy list of animal rescue charities in each state. I hope you'll be able to help, if not with a financial donation, with a link to your website, by fostering a needy dog, or volunteering your time.

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