Animal shelters are the unsung hero of modern Western society. Anyone who’s traveled around the world a bit more extensively has been to countries – even some First World countries – where homeless cats and dogs are so rampant that it often feels like they outnumber the people there. Thankfully, America has some of the best animal shelters in the world, and we couldn't be more proud of them!
Animal shelters are great not just for us and for our outdoor habitat, but for the animals themselves as well. As tough as it sometimes is to see a dog locked up in a small cage in a shelter, the alternative of a life on the street is almost never better. The phrase “A dog’s life” is not without meaning after all.
Animal shelters provide accommodation, food and water, and veterinary care and sterilization care for homeless animals. They train, re-train and rehabilitate unwanted and problematic dogs and cats. They also organize visits from future pet-owners-to-be for the pets they keep in the shelter.
Animal shelters definitely need more recognition and appreciation from both pet owners and non-pet owners alike.
Some animal rescue organizations and shelters go above and beyond for their mission, and deserve recognition for their outstanding work. For that reason ranked 30 of the best animal shelters in America. If you’re looking to adopt a pet or you simply want to help out an animal shelter near you – take a look below!
30 Best Animal Shelters That Make America Proud
1. Arizona Animal Welfare League
Let’s start things off with one of the older animal shelters on this list. The Arizona Animal Welfare League was first formed in 1971, but in the 1990's they also started working on saving animals on other shelters’ euthanasia lists.
The AAWL quickly became one of the biggest no-kill shelters in the country, as well as “a leader in innovative behavior training, medical care, adoption, education and community outreach programs.”
2. Humane Society of Sarasota County
Where: Sarasota, Florida
Address (Google maps): 2331 15th Street, Sarasota, FL 34237
The best no-kill shelter in its area, the Humane Society of Sarasota County is a staple of its community. The Feline and K-9 programs of this shelter provide great training and behavioral reprogramming for problematic, untrained, sick, and unwanted animals.
Their veterinary staff is also an example of what makes the Humane Society of Sarasota County a worthy inclusion on our list of the best animal shelters in the country.
3. Pet Haven of Minnesota
Another one of the older pet welfare organizations on our list, the Pet Haven in Minneapolis was founded in 1952. Proudly wearing the badge of Minnesota’s First Foster-based Animal Rescue Organization, the Pet Haven is still continuing its great work 65 years later.
Offering great medicinal and behavioral care for their animals, as well as expertly and efficiently finding new homes for them, the Pet Haven of Minneapolis definitely deserves its name.
4. BARC Shelter
The Brooklyn Animal Resource Coalition, or BARC for short, is a great example of what an animal rescue and shelter should look like.
Providing a safe haven for lost, unwanted and sickly animals, as well as finding them new homes with loving owners, the BARC shelter is the ideal place for you to check out if you are in the area and you’re looking for an animal shelter.
5. Greyhound Pets of America
Where: Longwood, Florida
Address (Google maps): 1260 S Ronald Reagan Blvd, Longwood, FL 32750
Located in Greater Orlando, the Greyhound Pets of America is a smaller animal shelter, focused on Greyhounds. It was founded in 1996 as a chapter of the National Greyhound Pets of America organization and it has been a staple of the organization ever since.
Representing them in this list of the best animal shelters, GPA/GO is a 100% volunteer organization that never returns a Greyhound and offers the best possible care for their animals.
6. New York Bully Crew
Founded in December 2010, the New York Bully Crew specializes in Pitbull rescue, but also provides care and help for all other dogs and animals in need they can find. The NY Bully Crew does a great deal of work in rehabilitating pitbulls and finding them loving and responsible owners, however, they also act to raise awareness of the horrible acts of violence done against Pitbulls, due to the awful clichés that still exist about them.
7. Animal Humane Society
With their five Twin Cities adoption centers, the Animal Humane Society helps more than 23,000 animals in need each year, as well as thousands of others through their programs for pet owners. One of the best animal shelters in the Upper Midwest, AHS is an example of everything an animal shelter should be and do, offering every form of care a homeless, unwanted, or sick animal can need.
8. Bainbridge Humane Society
Where: Bainbridge, Georgia
Address (Google maps): 1250 Cox Avenue, Bainbridge, GA 39819
The Bainbridge Decatur County Humane Society was formed 15 years ago, in 2002. Created as an answer to several other shelters before it that couldn’t manage to do what the animals of Decatur County needed them to, the Bainbridge Humane Society is an exemplary open shelter that accepts all lost, wounded, sick, or unwanted animals, treats them and finds them new homes.
9. Milton Animal League
Another animal shelter that makes us proud is the Milton Animal League. An animal welfare organization that is an example of all other with its unconditional love for animals and the great veterinary and behavioral care they offer, they categorically deserve a spot on our list.
If you are in the area and you are looking for an animal shelter of the highest quality, the Milton Animal League is the perfect place to check out.
10. Humane Society of Memphis
Where: Memphis, Tennessee
Address (Google maps): 935 Farm Rd, Memphis, TN 38134
One of the older entries in our list is the Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County – working for the well-being of abused, injured, and homeless dogs and pets ever since 1933, the Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County is one of those animal shelters that hundreds of others are built to emulate.
Providing shelter, nutritious food, and great veterinary care for hundreds of animals at a time, this shelter is well deserving of a spot on our list.
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11. Dane County Humane Society
They offer amazing care for both the behavior and health of the pets in their care, but more importantly, they also guarantee new homes for all cats and dogs that are in decent health and have only treatable health and behavioral conditions.
12. Ramapo Bergen Animal Refuge
Bergen Animal Rescue Inc. and Ramapo Animal Refuge Inc. had been staples in animal welfare in Oakland for years, and that goes even more so for the Ramapo Bergen Animal Refuge. Rescue, rehabilitation, medical care, a no-kill policy, and finding new owners – RBARI does it all.
13. Austin Pets Alive!
They started their path by targeting animals on the euthanasia lists of other local shelters and establishing data and statistics based on them and the countless animals that Austin Pets Alive! had saved. The end result is clear – one of the best animal shelters in the country.
14. Wayside Waifs
Another great no-kill animal shelter that deserves our attention is Wayside Waifs. The largest pet adoption campus in Kansas City, Wayside Waifs places 5,500 animals each year in loving foster families. Established as far back as 1944, today the shelter is committed to keeping animals in their care for as long as it takes and never euthanize them unless there's a medical condition requiring it.
15. DeKalb County Animal Services
Where: Atlanta, Georgia
Address (Google maps): 3280 Chamblee Dunwoody Rd, Chamblee, GA 30341
Managed by LifeLine Animal Project, the Animal Services division of DeKalb County is a non-profit organization that does a lot of great work for the homeless animals in their county.
The DeKalb County Animal Services offers a great support for the entire animal welfare community by helping with homeless adoption, offering spray and neuter services, and advocating for the lives and well-being of pets and animals in the county.
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16. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA)
Not just one of the older ones, but the oldest entry in our list, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA) has been working tirelessly for the well-being our pets and animals ever since 1877.
With a lot of great programs such as Cruelty Investigations, Disaster Animal Response Team, Humane Education, and many others, spcaLA is much more than just one of the best animal shelters.
17. Muttville Senior Dog Rescue
Where: San Francisco, California
Address (Google maps): 255 Alabama St, San Francisco, CA 94103
Another great shelter in San Francisco, Muttville specializes in unwanted dogs – dogs that have grown too old and too sickly and their owners have rejected them.
As horrible as this sound for some, the sad truth is that this happens quite often and Muttville makes sure that such dogs get the care they need and deserve, as well as find new homes with owners that will love them for what they are.
18. Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando
One of the oldest animal welfare organizations in the U.S. and a well-deserving entry in our list the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando was founded all the way back in 1937 as the Orlando Humane Society.
80 years later, these animal welfare pioneers are still continuing their great work of delivering expert care for homeless, unwanted, wounded, or sickly animals.
19. Best Friends Animal Society
Founded in 1980 – a time when the shelters in the U.S. were still killing millions of cats and dogs across the country – Best Friends Animal Society made all the difference. Today, the Best Friends Animal Society is the biggest no-kill animal shelter in the country and has been holding that title for the last 30 years. Offering great care for its animals, this shelter a perfect example of what an animal welfare society should look like.
20. Nevada Humane Society
The Nevada Humane Society is one of the most famous animal shelters in the U.S. for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the amazing 94% save rate for animals in their care for 2012. A basically unprecedented percentage, it clearly shows the devotion and dedication the folks at the Nevada Humane Society have to their animals. Keeping up the quality of work since then as well, this shelter is still one to look for.
21. Humane Society of Silicon Valley
With a 48,000 square-foot state of the art Animal Community Center that opened in 2009, with an impressive medicine program, with amazing volunteer and educational programs, and with their exceptional devotion and dedication to their mission, the Humane Society of Silicon Valley defiantly makes America proud.
22. City of San Jose Animal Care & Services
Famous for their “Feral Freedom” program, The Animal Care & Services of San Jose made a well-deserved name for themselves by decreasing the euthanasia rates of cats in the county by forty percent (40%!).
In addition to that, the Animal Care & Services of San Jose also provide a lot of other programs to its county, making sure that as many wounded, unwanted, and homeless animals get better and find the right owners.
23. Ellen M Gifford Cat Shelter
Founded in 1984 by Ellen Gifford, the Gifford Cat Shelter is an example of how to humanely house animals without confining them in small cages and boxes. Offering great care for its inhabitants, this is truly on of the best animal shelters.
24. Stray From the Heart
Rescue, rehabilitation, and finding new homes – Stray From the Heart does it all and does it expertly. In addition to that, their “no questions asked” policy is another great incentive for dog-owners-to-be to give this shelter and the pets it houses a chance.
25. Members of the Metro Denver Shelter Alliance
Where: Various locations
The collective animal save rate of the Members of the Metro Denver Shelter Alliance is over 85%, making them some of the best shelters in the country. Offering amazing care and rehabilitation, the shelters in the Metro Denver Alliances are ones you’d want to check out.
26. Greenhill Humane Society
They also actively advocate for animals and pet owners, work towards humane care for animals, and treats all of its adoptees with compassion and respect – definitely an animal shelter that’s worth our attention.
27. Tompkins County SPCA
Where: Ithaca, New York
Address (Google maps): 1640 Hanshaw Rd, Ithaca, NY 14850
Another great no-kill shelter in New York, the Tompkins County animal shelter has been a no-kill shelter since the start of this century. As if that’s not enough, however, the Tompkins County SPCA is also registered as the first “Green” animal shelter in the U.S. by the U.S. Green Building Council.
The Tompkins County SPCA achieved that by being environmentally minded, and having facilities that are designed in the best possible way for the animals in them, the people working for them, and its environment as a whole.
28. Multnomah County Animal Services
Where: Portland, Oregon
Address (Google maps): 1700 W Historic Columbia River Hwy, Troutdale, OR 97060
Located in Oregon, the Multnomah County Animal Services (MCAS, for short), are a member of the Animal Shelter Alliance of Portland (ASAP) – a coalition of the largest animal welfare organizations in the area.
MCAS is well-deserving of a place on any list of best animal shelters – they have various different programs for rescue, rehabilitation, and vet care for dogs, resulting in over 90% save rate for dogs, placing them amongst the top in the country.
29. Quincy Animal Shelter
For those in Boston, the Quincy Animal Shelter is one of the best animal shelters in the area. A no-kill shelter and a 100% volunteer-run organization that was incorporated in November 1999 as a non-profit Massachusetts charity, the Quincy Animal Shelter has saved and placed into loving homes thousands of animals since then.
A small capacity shelter with a big heart, the Quincy Animal Shelter is a great addition to our list of the best animal shelters.
30. Richmond SPCA
Saving thousands of lives every years and taking care of several hundred animals each day, the Richmond SPCA excels at everything an animal shelter should – rehabilitation, veterinary care, adoption, sterilization, as well as educating the community and its future pet-owners on how to best take care of their furry friends.
Do you have a nomination for the best animal shelters in America?
Did we miss some? We probably did – there are so many other great shelters and pet-related organizations out there that need more recognition. Let us know about any great animal shelters that we missed in the comments below.