Pet Charities: Our favorites

May 20, 2008

Check out these organizations that help pets.

Whether you are looking to adopt a pet, find a service animal, or donate or volunteer to a charity that benefits animals, the options can be overwhelming. Here, we round up some of our favorite pet and wildlife organizations, including both specialized charities and general resource directories and databases.

Specific charities

  • The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is a terrific resource for families and pet care providers, making it easy to help via donation, shopping, lobbying for animals, or adopting. Their adoption database serves many kinds of animals--dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, horses and more--and it makes it easy for users to find local shelters.
  • The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) works to protect pets, wildlife, farm animals, or animals. They conduct research on the evils of cruelty, exploitation, and neglect and they are particularly active in animal activism and legislation to protect animals.
  • The World Wildlife Federation (WWF) is a nature conservation organization that works to protect natural areas and wild populations of plants and animals in addition to other environmental initiatives. Users can support the WWF by direct donation, adopting an animal, shopping, or participating in their Conservation Action Network.
  • Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans (NEADS) is a Massachusetts-based organization that trains dogs to help the deaf or physically disabled. Users can make a donation, become a volunteer, or adopt a dog through NEADS.
  • The Delta Society provides training across the country for people who want to volunteer with their pet to bring "pet therapy" to hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, schools, and other facilities.
  • The Search Dog Foundation trains dogs recruited from shelters and breed rescue groups to be part of disaster search teams assembled in the wake of natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and terrorism such as the World Trade Center attacks.
  • The National Association for Search and Rescue (NASAR) works to advance knowledge in fields related to search and rescue. Their Dog Fact Sheet offers useful information for people who want to volunteer on SAR teams or train their animals to become SAR dogs.
  • 4 Paws for Ability trains and places service dogs to assist people with disabilities, particularly for children in need. Users can help by making a donation, or by sponsoring or providing foster care for a dog.

Directories and databases

  • Animal Charities of America (ACA) is a nonprofit organization that provides detailed information on pre-screened, high quality animal-related charities. Their directory currently includes 65 charities.
  • Charity Navigator ranks over 5,300 of America's largest charities based on how efficiently the charities use their financial support, and the extent to which the charities are growing their programs and services over time. Their animal category currently includes nearly 400 charities.
  • Petfinder offers both a searchable database to find a pet and a directory of shelters and adoption organizations across the US, Canada, and Mexico. The pet database currently includes over 250,000 pets from over 11,000 adoption groups. The directory includes over 10,000 animal shelters and organizations.

Christine Koh is a music and brain scientist turned parent and writer about parenting issues for She is also the editor of

More Pet Care Resources

Trying to choose the perfect pet for your family? Read's Family Pet Guide to get you started.

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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