15 Best Dog Rescues in California

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

Adopting a dog but not sure where to find one? In this post, we cover the best dog rescues in California where you can do your part and bring home a lovely doggy and give it a new home.

Quick note here: The main difference between dog rescues and shelters is that rescues are typically privately run and funded through donations, while shelters are organized by local government.

Dog rescues are not listed in any particular order. Check out other excellent dog rescues in other states here.

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where to find the best dog rescue in california

1. Family Dog Rescue

Location: 2253 Shafter Ave, San Francisco, CA 94124

Family Dog Rescue gives dogs in need a second opportunity, from the underdogs of California’s overcrowded municipal shelters to the street canines of Mexico.

These dogs are welcomed into their San Francisco shelter and foster program, where they will receive medical care, temperament study, spay/neuter, immunizations, and, most importantly, a loving family.

Puppies, adults, mixed breeds, purebreds, and dogs with impairments are among the canines saved by Family Dog Rescue.

From the time they enter the program until they find their forever home, the experienced, loving family of shelter volunteers and staff ensure that their dogs receive proper enrichment and socialization (and beyond).

The adoption process goes beyond any pre-determined criteria for the ideal dog owner.

Potential adopters are treated the same way they treat their dogs: individually.

Every adoption creates a family, and they are great at linking people up with their ideal dog.

2. 1 Love Dog Rescue

Location: 4150 Grass Valley Hwy, Auburn, CA 95602

1 Love Dog Rescue, a non-profit founded in 2013, is on a mission to save dogs from overcrowded shelters and those who would harm them.

Thousands of dogs have been cared for and put in loving homes thanks to their efforts.

Unfortunately, the United States is euthanizing a large number of dogs for a variety of reasons, including an overabundance of breeders and a shortage of space in animal shelters.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), approximately 4 million dogs enter shelters each year, with up to half of them being euthanized.

Some of these canines simply need to find a suitable location.

At 1 LOVE, they work with dogs from all walks of life to ensure that they receive the required vaccinations and microchips, as well as a spay or neuter and a loving home.

3. Wonder Dog Rescue

Location: 354 Palm Ave, Penngrove, CA 94951

The current life-saving goal of Wonder Dog is the culmination of 30 years of rescue work.

In 1990, the founder got involved in dog rescue and founded a Boston Terrier rescue in San Francisco.

The ability to aid other canines in need improved as the group grew.

Right now, they rescue all kinds of dogs, ranging in age from 6 weeks to 16 years!

While waiting to be adopted, all of the dogs live in foster homes and they receive the love and support they require as they prepare to move into their forever homes.

The team here also saves dogs who are on the verge of being euthanized in shelters due to medical problems, both physical and emotional.

While some of these dogs are adopted, many of them remain with the rescue as foster/hospice or fospice dogs… lovable pets who require care and compassion as they near the end of their lives.

4. Throw Me A Bone Dog Rescue

Location: 2063 Main St, Oakley, CA 94561

This non profit organization is made up of a small group of volunteers from East Contra Costa County, California, who work together to preserve dogs and place them in loving forever homes.

All of their rescued dogs are housed, trained, and loved in foster homes, therefore they do not operate a shelter.

There are never enough foster homes, so please contact them if you are interested in volunteering as a volunteer foster.

In the early stages, United States Wolf Refuge and Adoption Center was their main supporter so you can consider helping them out too.

5. Rocket Dog Rescue

Location: 3561 Foothill Blvd, Oakland, CA 94601

Rocket Dog Rescue consists of an all-volunteer nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing the killing of homeless and abandoned animals in overcrowded Bay Area shelters.

They provide them with a second opportunity in life, based on the belief that everyone is entitled to a second opportunity.

Non-aggressive dogs are placed in temporary foster homes where they are socialized, spayed/neutered, vaccinated, and treated for any medical or behavioral concerns that might otherwise prevent them from being adopted.

They then use their volunteer network, online adoption page, weekend adoption fairs, and neighborhood poster campaigns to actively seek out permanent quality homes for these worthy animals.

The ultimate purpose of Rocket Dog Rescue is to assist in the creation of a world where all companion animals have loving and permanent homes.

A world in which no good-natured companion animal, regardless of age, is slaughtered in shelters because it is deemed surplus or unadoptable.

When possible, they also try to make eco-friendly and vegetarian selections.

6. I.C.A.R.E Dog Rescue

Location: 31441 Santa Margarita Pkwy A-194, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688

I.C.A.R.E. Dog Rescue is all about heart, and they have some of the biggest!

I.C.A.R.E. was created in the fall of 2010 and soon gained a reputation for assisting and rescuing dogs that had been abandoned by others.

The health of a dog in need has no bearing on their rescue operations. They will be there if a dog needs them!

The rescue, however, does not finish with the removal from the shelter.

Before they can find their forever homes, many of their pets have a tough road ahead to recovery.

Many of their dogs are being treated or have been treated for pneumonia, kennel cough, coccidia, giardia, and other dangerous diseases because they chose to rescue those dogs that need them the most and are considered “unadoptable.”

They’ve cared for those who were very malnourished, those who had parvo, those who had broken limbs, and those whose spirits had been shattered to the point where they needed to be taught how to love and trust again.

You can certainly do your part by popping over to see how you can help. be it as a volunteer or adopter.

7. Big Love Animal Rescue

Location: 5404 Whitsett Avenue, Suite #185, Valley Village, CA 91607

Big Love Animal Rescue is run by Lisa Arturo, a dog specialist, animal activist, pet matchmaker, and rescue warrior. Her desire to make a difference in the lives of those who have no voice is unquenchable.

Lisa grew up in Clifton, New Jersey, and later relocated to Manhattan to pursue a dancing and acting career.

She had a glamorous life as a showgirl, performing with numerous dance companies all over the world, and came to Los Angeles at the age of 24 to pursue her acting career, and she has since acted in numerous TV episodes, films, and commercials.

She didn’t know the awful truth about how animals are treated in America until she began helping at local and county shelters 12 years ago. Volunteering at city shelters provided her with the most practical experience in teaching her how to work with dogs in less-than-ideal situations.

Lisa’s mission is to educate, teach, and share compassion.

She aspires to help families with their personal pets as a TV celebrity and animal expert and assist owners on behavior modification, introducing a new pet into the family, budgeting for the expenditure, and medical care of a new pet.

You will learn what to feed them, how to choose the ideal pet for your family, and what to expect when visiting a shelter or rescue organization to adopt a pet.

Visit them to learn more!

8. Home Free Animal Rescue & Sanctuary

Location: 20302 Riverside Drive, Newport Beach, CA 92660

The objectives of this nonprofit are straightforward: to save as many animals as possible from euthanasia in America’s shelters.

Every day, more than 9,000 animals are slaughtered, equating to more than 4 million each year. This is a shocking figure and it can be decreased to zero if we all work together and do our part.

Seniors and dogs with medical concerns are the focus of the rescue and they only accept pets from local shelters.

They raise public awareness about the condition of the aforementioned animals and the importance of spaying and neutering to prevent more animals from ending up in shelters.

At Home Free Animal Rescue & Sanctuary, they work hard to ensure that all of their canines are cared for.

Unfortunately, they won’t be able to achieve it without the help of people like you and your time and money donations. So, if you ever feel like becoming a part of their family and helping some of the best animals on the planet, go visit them!

9. 1 Lucky Dog Rescue

Location: 4460 Tassajara Rd, Dublin, CA 94568

Lucky Dog Rescue (LDR) was established in 2010 by a small group of professionals with decades of combined experience in dog rescue, evaluation, training, care, and placement.

Their team is entirely made up of volunteers.

LDR rescues dogs from overcrowded shelters and fosters them in their homes until loving families adopt them.

Animal shelters in the community are devoted animal champions. Unfortunately, they are constrained in their efforts due to a shortage of space to house the animals.

Most shelters are only required to keep stray animals for 3-4 days, and because of that, thousands of innocent animals must be euthanized to create space for newcomers.

LDR Rescues them and gets them spayed, neutered, microchipped, and given the necessary vaccines and medical care while they are in their foster care.

More comprehensive treatment may be required in some cases, such as surgery for fractured bones or treatment for skin disorders that are frequently the result of human abuse or neglect.

The small adoption fees, fundraising, contributions, and the support of animal welfare organizations like Maddie’s Fund help to cover the expense of this care, which may be rather costly.

You can do your part too!

10. Underdog Animal Rescue

Location: They are foster-based, so there is no physical address. Contact them here.

Underdog Animal Rescue is a foster-based rescue that serves Northern California’s Bay Area.

They have created an exceptional team and a strong network of volunteers dedicated to rescuing the Underdogs in their shelters and community since its inception in 2014.

They have also committed their efforts to offer the dogs that are most in need (medically or behaviorally) and who have been disregarded for far too long a second chance.

Underdog Rescue places dogs in temporary foster homes where they may relax and receive the love and compassion they require.

Before finding their forever home, dogs are vaccinated, spayed/neutered, and given any other medical treatment they require.

The strong passion is why they save dogs who are nearing the end of their time at the shelter or who haven’t been given an opportunity to be adopted by the general population.

As much as everyone likes their adorable puppy eyes, they would rather save their mommies and daddies who have been relegated to the rear of the shelter, awaiting their fate.

11. Foothill Dog Rescue

Location: 4131 S Shingle Rd #14, Shingle Springs, CA 95682

Foothill Dog Rescue is a non-profit, all-volunteer group dedicated to rehoming dogs from high-kill shelters and owners who are unable to care for them.

Their dedicated volunteers collaborate with area vets, trainers, groomers, and boarding facilities to ensure that our dogs are properly prepared for their permanent homes.

They also provide new owners with post-adoption support, information, and training.

Foothill’s goal is to reduce the number of healthy, adoptable dogs whose time at the shelter has run out, especially pregnant dogs and those with puppies, and place them in loving forever homes.

They feel that far too many great dogs end up in shelters due to no fault of their own and hopefully, their cause is supported by many good people in the community.

12. Paws For Life K-9 Rescue

Location: 1158 26th St. PMB 187, Santa Monica, CA. 90403

Paws For Life K9 Rescue is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping canines from shelters in the city and county.

They frequently select dogs in need of socialization and training and place them with their incarcerated trainers in California State Prisons.

They accomplished this because their program promotes a healthy training atmosphere that devotes a large amount of time to rehabilitation, resulting in the greatest possible results.

These canines are ready for family life after earning their AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certification after several months of training.

Some are trained to be service animals for war veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

PFL is demonstrating that everyone deserves a second opportunity by cutting euthanasia rates and preparing canines for service employment.

13. Central California SPCA

Location: 103 S. Hughes Ave, Fresno, CA 93706

The Central California SPCA (CCSPCA) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit humane society based in Fresno County, California. It was formed in 1895.

They are committed to leading and supporting the community of animals and humans by providing programs and services that serve all stages of an animal’s life as the foremost animal welfare organization in California’s Central Valley.

Adoptions, Rescue, Humane Investigations, Foster Care, Owner Surrenders, Outreach, Humane Education, Veterinary Services, Spay/Neuter programs, and a variety of additional Pet Services are among the services available.

Every animal in its Animal Center receives a secure haven, nutritious food, medical care, and affection thanks to their modern facilities and loving team.

Lost or stray animals in Fresno receive free ambulance service and housing, as well as those who are owned but are temporarily without homes due to their owners’ inability to care for them.

14. Rotts Of Friends Animal Rescue

Location: 34505 County Road 29, Woodland, CA 95695

Through the rescue, rehabilitation, and placement of unwanted and abused animals into forever homes, Rotts of Friends is a recognized non-profit organization dedicated to educating and preventing irresponsible breeding and ownership of animals.

They are, first and foremost, a dog advocacy group.

It is their responsibility to match the dog with the individual or family who is best suited for it.

All of their available dogs have been spayed or neutered, have been microchipped, and have received free lifetime obedience training.

Even with donated veterinarian services, food, and volunteer labor, the average annual cost of providing for the rescues surpasses $100,000.

All gifts to “Rotts of Friends” are tax-deductible because it is a fully registered charity non-profit.

You can help them out here!

15. Umbrella of Hope Rescue

Location: 4080 Railroad Ave, Pittsburg, CA 94565, USA

Umbrella of Hope Rescue is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in East Contra Costa County, California, that is primarily sponsored by community donations.

Their main focus is on rescuing, rehabilitating, and placing animals in forever homes who are at risk of dying in shelters.

If you have ever noticed an umbrella tattoo on one of their dogs’ tummies and wondered what it meant, here’s what it means.

If one of their dogs is picked up or surrendered to a shelter, the staff will know to contact Umbrella of Hope first. It’s their unique identifier!

The main goals of this rescue are to increase adoptions of already born animals to reduce the euthanasia of adoptable animals, and to raise public awareness about homeless pets, support companion animal spay and neuter, and promote adoption as a means of acquiring family pets.

Other Dog Rescues in California Worth Mentioning

There are several other dog rescues in California that are in need of your help, but unfortunately, we are unable to cover every single one of them. Through online reviews and friends’ recommendations, here are a few more you can visit and support:

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Daily Dog Drama!

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