Dog Shelters

Humane Society, ASPCA, SPCA
Dog Breed Rescue Groups

It's hard to walk past dozens of sad and lonely faces in dog shelters
like this when visiting a kennel. You feel like taking them ALL home!


Dog shelters include the ASPCA, SPCA,many Humane Society and dog rescue groups located all around the USA and world. There are private dog shelters in rural areas, small towns and just about everywhere people congregate. These shelters, large and small, all exist on public donations so some shelters are quite poor and do the best they can on what they receive. It doesn’t matter where you find your prize-winning pooch.

When you adopt a dog, you’re saving a life and giving a pooch a second chance.

A shelter staff lady holds a tiny
puppy rescued from an abandoned house.
In a few weeks he will be up for adoption.


This page will explain more about what to expect from each of the various kinds of dog shelters that you might deal with.

ASPCA, SPCA, Humane Society

The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)
was founded in 1866. This was a basic dog kennel and was the first humane organization in the Western Hemisphere. The ASPCA was started up to stop the cruelties all animals were coping with and the ASPCA continuities to fight animal cruelty world wide. Whether it’s saving a pet or fighting to pass humane laws, rescuing animals from abuse or sharing resources with shelters across the country, the ASPCA works toward the day when no animal will live in fear or pain. Anyone is welcome to join the non-profit ASPCA which relies on donations from the general public to keep up it’s work.

The ASPCA we dealt with screened the dogs for behavior issues, vaccinated them, made sure they were spayed or neutered and gave ours a complete health check. This was standard policy. They also had a return guarantee, should anything go wrong.

The SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) International
has a mission and that is to raise awareness of the abuse of animals to a global level. They teach and foster good pet parenting policies. They promote good spay/neuter programs around the world with the goal of eliminating the need to euthanize healthy, adoptable animals. They work to achieve their goals through outreach programs and by supporting shelters that are already working to achieve the same goals.

Our experience with the SPCA was about the same as with the ASPCA except that in our case, they let us take a dog that was sick with Kennel Cough. The shelter didn't pick up on the illness and offered to take the dog back. We refused and cured the dog through our own vet, but, the offer was there. I have always had good experiences with the SPCA and ASPCA.

Just rescued from the Humane Society in New Jersey are two puppies: long-haired Chihuahua and a spitz (standing over the little guy) They came in together and were adopted together.
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The Humane Society of the United States
has locations in nearly every major city. It is the largest organization of it’s kind, offering a mainstream force against cruelty, exploitation, abuse and neglect of animals. The Humane Society was formed in 1954 and you can find branches just about anywhere. They promote a “humane and sustainable world for all animals, a world that will also benefit people.” This is one of the bigger “dog shelters:” organizations, again, operating solely on donations from the public.

I have not dealt directly with the Humane Society, but there is one located near here that we visit often and it appears to be very well run and their policies are of a high standard.

We have a serious animal abuse and animal rights problem world wide and here in the USA. Dog shelters like the Humane Society are overcrowded and dog rescue trucks run day and night trying to keep up with the flood of unwanted and mistreated dogs and other animals. Dog rescue is a never ending job.

Our animal abuse laws are not strict enough in my opinion and we have a long way to go. These organizations mentioned above operate entirely from donations from the public like you and me so they have a daily struggle to get their message out. The Humane Society, ASPCA, SPCA and other dog shelters around the world operate day and night.

Dog shelters such as listed above are some of the BEST places in the world to find dogs. You will find the people working at dog shelters such as the Humane Society and the SPCA’s as anxious for you to be happy with your choice of a dog as they are to have the dog find the proper home!

Don’t see what you want today at your local Humane Society or animal shelter? Go back in a few days or week or a month and check again! Dog shelters have a constant turnover.

Did you know that on average, up to 30% of the dogs in dog shelters are purebreds? Yes. And, a good % of kennel dogs are trained from a previous home and screened by the ASPCA, SPCA, Humane Society or local dog kennel and are ready for their new “forever home” with a minimal amount of training necessary!

Very sad Labrador Retriever
needs a new home and family to protect.



Dogs that come into these rescue pounds and other dog shelters as mentioned above that have emotional baggage such as aggression, are overly shy, and are fearful and so on are often worked with by the kennel staff to try to rehab them and are not put up for adoption until they have proven they're ready.

Some dog pounds just euthanize the dog and move on. Others take the time to work with the individual dog until she's ready for a new family so when you get there, the dog is as good as new.


Many dogs in these dog shelters are there because they were purchased by people with no idea as to what to expect of the dog and failed to understand the time and effort needed to maintain and TRAIN the dog.

There is a terrible trend toward turning dogs loose on the street where they become homeless. This website will try to inform potential adopters and puppy buyers so this doesn’t have to happen.

According to a national survey, roughly one-half of the dogs that go into dog shelters end up euthanized. There are just more dogs than homes for them. Dog shelters are badly overcrowded.

This begs the necessity of the spay and neuter programs. It’s vital to reduce the overpopulation of unwanted dogs!

The folks working for the SPCA and other dog shelters are trained and helpful people. They work to assess the dogs that are brought in by animal control officers as well as the public. They look for temperament problems and any other problems the dogs may have picked up in its prior life on the street.

Dog rescue brings the dogs in off the streets to the various dog shelters where they get checked out. The staff takes notes on each dog so they can answer your questions. Since the staff is familiar with the temperament of the dog, they are good people to discuss your personal needs with… “gone all day at work” or “need constant companion for grandma” etc, etc.

The ASPCA, SPCA and Humane Society are diligent about screening people wanting to adopt a pet as well as screening the dog itself. That’s been my experience.

The fees for adopting are far less in dog shelters than they are at a breeder or dog rescue group. All they ask for is a donation. Usually, a donation of about $150 to $175 would be appropriate.

If you can afford more, fine. If $100 is all you can handle, probably okay. Just remember, these dog shelters are going way beyond just housing and feeding dogs.

Dog shelters provide shots, spaying or neutering and de-worming as well as screening for temperament and in some cases, minor obedience training… and that all totals up to at least $300.00 if you had it done at your vet.

Dalmatian puppy up for adoption in a dog shelter. Sad, isn't it?
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NOTE: Unfortunately, there are a few dog shelters that do NOT screen incoming dogs for temperament and personality. Do NOT patronize such a facility, especially if you have children. Do NOT run the risk of getting a dog with an aggression problem. It isn’t worth the risk.

You walk through dog shelters such as the SPCA or Humane Society and row after row of big dogs are barking up a storm, noses pressed to the chain link fencing of their enclosures, eyes open wide and each one is trying to say: “please take me home with you!” “I need someone to love!” It’s heartbreaking. There are so MANY big dogs.

And small dogs. Our local Humane Society is filled with big dogs. There are not as many small dogs in the kennels. For some reason the small dogs seem to have better luck at finding their forever homes. The small dogs that are there will generally come to the front of the cage, tail wagging and look up at you with wistful eyes and beg… beg with their eyes.

What you will not get from the Humane Society, ASPCA or SPCA is a pre-owned dog that has food bowl aggression or any kind of serious aggression problems. You should get a full report as to any issues the dog does have and you will be matched up to the right dog by the staff based on your particular circumstances. Dogs are screened. If they don’t have what you need, they will likely put you on a waiting list.

Where do dogs come from that end up in Dog Shelters
like the SPCA, ASPCA and Humane Society?

  • Dogs that run away from home from being mistreated and become homeless. The Dog Rescue truck picks them up.

  • Dogs from pet stores that misbehave. Family turns them loose to run streets because it is too much trouble to train the dog. Picked up by the Dog Rescue truck.

  • Dogs from senior citizens who pass on and leave their dogs behind.

  • Dogs abused or hit by cars and rescued by ASPCA and other dog rescue groups.

  • Dogs bought as gifts for kids at Christmas and birthdays. (Often end up in dog shelters) Dogs as gifts… Very bad idea for anyone, any age!

  • Dogs from people who move out of state and leave their dogs behind to starve. Picked up by Dog Rescue truck.

  • Parents buying kids a dog as a gift is a really bad idea unless the child has been thoroughly schooled in how to behave around a dog. Also, the young child should never be put in charge of feeding and caring for the dog. After awhile the “novelty” wears off and what happens to the dog? You can guess! Poor dog is on his own and lonely; picked up by dog rescue and into the dog shelters..

This lucky Pug found
her new forever home!
Now it's the good life!


Dog Rescue Groups

Dog shelters like the ASPCA and Humane Society in America almost never see “unusual” breeds of dogs. For breeds not common in the USA, (or other countries) you have to look for the specific dog breed rescue groups, easily located on the Internet.

If you want that Tibetan Spaniel mentioned above, you might Google “Tibetan Spaniel Rescue” and see what comes up. (I did this. The American Tibetan Spaniel Club has a Website and as near as I can tell, it originates in Oklahoma. There doesn’t seem to be any other sites other than Australia and England.

So you can see, if your love is anything as unique at the Tibetan Spaniel, you will have to travel a bit to find this rescue group.

Dog rescue groups don’t always warehouse dogs themselves. A “group” consists of a bunch of individual people living in different states, or a given area, each fostering a handful of dogs of a particular breed or breeds.

I also Goggled “Miniature Schnauzer Rescue” and came up with pictures of eleven Mini Schnauzers being fostered starting at about 50 miles from here. That’s how dog rescue groups work.


Here's a dog rescue group you can visit to get a better idea of what these places are all about. These groups put countless hours of work and money into their operations and get little back for their effort. If you live in the Southern Ontario, Canada area, I recommend Ontario Canine Rescue as a great place to start looking. This is an all breed, non-profit, no-kill operation that's dedicated to saving abandoned and homeless dogs and placing them in good, loving homes. Check out their (new) website for more information.


A homeless, starving pooch with all the qualities to become a
wonderful, healthy companion -- with a little work by a dog shelter.

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You can also go online and try PETFINDER.COM or try 1.800 PetFinder.Com gives you photos of the dogs available for adoption but I warn you, most of the pictures are dark and you can’t see much.

Dog rescue groups are spread out. Most of the individuals who actually have the dogs for adoption are in separate homes located all over the place so you have to do some traveling when looking for a dog from a rescue whereas a dog breeder is in one house.

Sometimes a member of the rescue group will come out to inspect your house to make sure the living conditions for the dog you want to adopt are satisfactory. One member drove 47 miles to check our house before letting us adopt the Miniature Schnauzer.

We answered their lengthy questioner, but they checked us out just the same. In this case, the person checking out our house was not the person with the dog we wanted.

Dog rescue groups charge $600 for a purebred puppy and $150 for a dog over 9 years of age. There is a sliding scale for ages between those two. The average is in the $300 to $400 range for most adoptions and that usually includes spaying/neutering, vaccinations and a health check.

Also, rescue groups do NOT seem to screen the dogs for behavior problems, as far as we could tell. I asked over the phone if the dog we were coming to see enjoyed riding in the car or had separation anxiety (important to us) and the lady didn't know. She had some "twenty various dogs running around the yard."

Here are a few questions to be prepared for: (Reputable dog breeders and dog breed rescues don’t let their dogs go to the first person that comes along. They do check you out.)

  • Why do you want a dog?

  • How long will the dog be left alone each day?

  • Who will be responsible for daily care? Who will make the rules for the dog?

  • Vets name, phone number. (Yes, they DO CALL YOUR VET if you have one)

  • Sign contract that you will spay or neuter the dog. (If not already done)

  • Sign contract that you will return dog to the rescue group if you can’t keep the dog for any reason at any point in the dog’s life. THEY DO ENFORCE THIS!

  • Will this be an inside or outside dog? (Correct answer, “Inside dog.”

  • Who will train the dog?

  • Where will the dog sleep?

  • Are you financially able to maintain the dog... toys, food, grooming, vet.?

With the terrible increase in dog fighting rings and animal abuse, animal shelters of all kinds have become extremely cautious as to whom they turn their animals over to. While the exchange of money is necessary to keep things running, selling a dog is not the only concern. The safety and wellbeing of the dogs is also a high priority. I am telling you this ahead of time so you wont be surprised when the questions start flying.

This retriever was a sickly stray. Rescued by the SPCA and worked
with, he is now HEALTHY and HAS A GREAT SECOND HOME with plenty of TLC.

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Want to try the Internet?

There are lots of websites offering dogs for sale and for adoption. One of the bigger sites is PetFinder.Com. You simple tell this site what kind of dog you are looking for and it will direct you to participating dog rescue groups and dog shelters in YOUR AREA that currently have what you are looking for.

Petfinder places a photo of each dog on the Internet. However, the majority of photos are not always the best. (I just scanned Petfinder and I’ll admit, the photo quality has improved over what it was a few years ago.)

Some of the referrals will be to foster homes; private individuals who are fostering the dog you are interested in. The other referrals will be to dog rescue with at least one, or a selection, of what you are looking for.

If you find a dog kennel, you can call and inquire about the specific dog by phone. If it is a foster home or dog rescue, you can email the folks caring for your potential buddy before going out to visit.

The Internet is a good way to locate a dog shelter or rescue group and a possible dog without a lot of driving around. You can use the phone and email which is a lot cheaper than a tank of fuel! But, at some point, if you get all the right answers to your phone calls, you are going to have to visit the foster family, dog rescue or dog shelter and study the dog up close and personal.

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