Skip to Content

How to Find a Good Rescue Center

How to Find a Good Rescue Center

Adopting a new furry baby can be daunting if you don’t know where to look. You have to be conscientious and research the rescue center you plan to adopt. 

City rescues, canine websites, sanctuaries, clubs and the ASPCA work tirelessly to protect and provide helpless animals a home. Some rescue centers take in dogs along with cats or are just focused on one species. 

Before you settle on one rescue center, it’s a good idea to explore all your options.

What Is a Rescue Center

Rescue centers dedicate their efforts to adopt animals. Rescues, unlike shelters, have a “no-kill policy.”

Rescue centers operate via donations and volunteers.  These volunteers have a passion to save animals’ lives. They are made of diverse talents.  Medical teams offer their expertise to take care of injured dogs and other animals. Volunteers foster, train, play, and solve behavior problems of dogs rescued while a loving home is found for them. Unlike government-funded shelters, rescues do not euthanize their dogs.

Scout’s Pick



Mango Unleashed: A Thai Rescue Dog Travels The World


Buy from Amazon

City Rescue Groups

According to One Green Planet, “There are 5,500 dogs euthanized each day in the United States, and thankfully, so many great shelters are working to fight that statistic.”

City rescues are able to advocate to many foster networks.  They reach out to facilities, provide medical treatment to dogs, and work with within their communities.  City rescues also have the funds to provide many animal facilities which increase dog adoptions. 

Moreover, they are part of the no-kill movement throughout the nation that aims to reduce euthanasia of dogs that are healthy or older but have no home. They also refuse to kill dogs that are in need of medical care. They bring dogs back to health with the goal of having the healthy pup adopted in a happy home.

According to One Green Planet, three of the top rescue centers in the United States are:

Austin Pets Alive! (APA)

One Green Planet lists the APA as the “nationwide leader in the no-kill revolution.”  They are listed as number one because the APA has placed dogs in adoptions faster than any other rescue in the country.  They participate in many on-site adoption events, have broader foster programs, and operate a Parvo ICU and isolation unit for sick animals. Moreover, the APA has a comprehensive No Kill Implementation Plan.

San Jose Animal Care & Services (SJACS) 

The SJACS is located in California and collaborates with the Humane Society of Silicon Valley.  

This rescue center developed their We Care coalition made of six shelters in the San Jose area specialized in the reduction of euthanasia.

Multnomah County Animal Services

Located in Oregon, the Multnomah County Animal Services is a member of the Animal Shelter Alliance of Portland.  According to their website, they have a “24-hour response to animal emergencies and public safety incidents involving animals.”



A Dog Like Ralph: … for anyone who has ever loved a rescue dog


Buy from Amazon

Canine Breed Rescues

If you know which dog breed you want, there are many rescue organizations that operate according to the type of dog you are looking for. You can find rescue groups catered to Labrador Retriever, Pug, English Bull Dog, or Bichon Frise, and more.

Most of these rescues are non-profit organizations run on funding and volunteers. Before you chose the right breed rescue center, make sure you research that they are legitimate. Most breed rescues have photos or videos of their feature labs looking for a home. You should be able to visit the rescue center. Any site that does not have a physical address, or that asks for money to hold a pup is probably a hoax. 

Here are three dog rescues that protect distinct breeds:

Southern California Labrador Retriever Rescue (SCLRR)

SCLRR is an organization dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and re-homing of unwanted Labradors. We also offer referrals and listings for people wishing to adopt or re-home a Lab.” They are a non-profit 501(c)(3) all volunteer rescue group operating since 1998.

I must admit, after reading the biography behind a cute little lab, and then looking at videos of this cutie pie, I wanted to take him home.  Yes, this is the idea behind these wonderful rescue centers. They want to make sure their labs get a great home and go out of their way to show how their canine lives in a foster home.

Pug Nation Rescue of Los Angeles

Pug Nation Rescue’s motto is “one pug at a time”. This rescue places its efforts in rescuing, caring, and placing abandoned, neglected, unwanted, displaced and abused pugs into loving homes. This registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization run fund-raiser events and festivals to raise money to care for their pugs. 

Their website features pugs needing homes and has an adoption process. Once your application is approved, you become eligible to visit the center and pick your little baby.



Bonding with Your Rescue Dog: Decoding and Influencing Dog Behavior (Dog Training and Dog Care Series Book 1)


Buy from Amazon


Best Friends is a registered 501(a) (3) Non-profit Organization that operates the largest sanctuary for homeless animals in the country.

Best Friend’s goal is to save all animals.  They provide adoptions, spay, and neuter services.  They also offer education programs. 

Furthermore, Best Friends rescues other animals that are not dogs. They  rescue cats, rabbits, birds, equine, pig, barnyard, small & furry, and any animal they come across that needs a home.


The most recognized and prestigious club nationwide is the American Kennel Club (AKC). AKC operates the AKC Rescue Network, “the largest network of dog rescue groups in the country.”

Certified AKC rescue groups are listed in alphabetical order per the type of breed of dog. Contact information includes the rescue’s email, phone number, and their website linked to the site.

These registered AKC organizations are in good standing so you can be guaranteed that whichever furry baby you chose comes from a reputable rescue center.

Unlike purebred clubs, rescue clubs belonging to a particular breed may or may not have purebreds. Some dogs are mixes found in pounds, puppy mills, shelters, or from people who decide they no longer want to take care of their dog. Frankly, I find it hard to believe that some people give up their dogs after having them for years; this sadly is the case.

The Bichon Frise Club of America Charitable Trust runs the Bichon Frise Rescue Effort. They use the limited resources to rehome healthy Bichons which have been relinquished or abandoned.

The German Shepherd Dog Club is another club that operates The American German Shepherd Rescue Association, a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to finding homes for German Shepherd dogs.

Whichever breed you are looking for, make sure the club is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. I would recommend a background check on any organization you plan to adopt from.

Three dogs

ASPCA & the Humane Society

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is an animal welfare group dedicated to preventing and rescuing animals from abhorring environments. 

The ASPCA works tirelessly to find loving homes for homeless dogs and other animals. Depending on where you live, the ASPCA  lists local shelters/rescue centers according to the city.  These centers have dogs, cats and other animals needing homes and list them on their website.

Beware of Puppy Mills and Scams

According to the ASPCA,  puppy mills are high-volume puppy industries where dogs are bred for profit and kept in inhumane conditions. These dogs don’t receive love, physical activity or proper veterinary care. When the dogs can no longer produce they are destroyed.

In order to avoid falling into these horrid scams, research the Humane Society of the United States. They are a great resource to make sure you don’t fall into puppy mill scams.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is one of the largest and most recognized non-profit organizations that focuses its efforts in advocating for the rights of animals. They are constantly up to date with puppy mill listings and rescue scams. 

There are countless of organizations that claim to be rescues. These rescues are certified and registered as non-profits. Unfortunately, there are other businesses that run scams and prey on a dog lover’s vulnerability.  

Plan ahead and be conscious that there are many evil folks out there trying to take advantage your kind hearts. Never go on Craigslist to adopt a dog. With the growth of puppy scams, make sure you report any red flags you come across. 

We at Scout Knows, want to make sure you find your furry one healthy and in wonderful spirits as you welcome them into your home.

Continue reading:

Prepare For Pick Up Day: Welcome Your Dog Home

Working Dogs: Little & Big Heroes

Dog Adoption: How to Find Your Next Furry Friend