9 Best Charities to Adopt a Pet Animal (Complete 2022 List)

9 Best Charities to Adopt a Pet Animal (Complete 2022 List)

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Carla Shaik

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6-8 million cats and dogs are handed into shelters in the US every year. Furthermore, 2.7 million pets are euthanized in shelters annually due to overcrowding. Charities across the country are now working to allow you to protect these vulnerable animals and prevent their senseless killings. So we had to ask: What are the best charities to adopt a pet animal?

The Best Charities to adopt a pet animal in terms of overall impact are PetSmart Charities and PetCo Love. Charities such as the Best Friends Animal Society and North Shore Animal League America work tirelessly to educate shelters on how to become no-kill zones.

Whether you want to give a loving home to a pet in need or ensure that no animal is euthanized unnecessarily, there is a charity for you. Keep reading to learn more about what the best charities to adopt a pet animal are all about, how they work, and what your best way would be to make a contribution.

Related: Did you know that you can make Amazon donate 0.5% of your purchases to a charitable organization of your choice. Sign up at smile.amazon.com, select the charity you want your donations to go to, and make Amazon donate a part of your purchases to your chosen charity at no extra cost to you.

Here’s What All the Best Charities to Adopt a Pet Animal Have in Common

The charities on this list were chosen based on their mission, impact and transparency ratings, and achievements. They operate all over America and Canada, providing sanctuary for abandoned companion animals in desperate need of help. 

Many of the charities on this list focus their efforts on providing shelter and medical care to vulnerable animals until they can be rehomed. Others focus their attention on making every shelter in the US a no-kill zone and offer low-cost spay/neuter services to reduce the number of unwanted pets. Yet they all share the same goal – to ensure every companion animal has the chance to live a humane life in a loving environment.

These Are the 9 Best Charities to Adopt a Pet Animal

Below are our favorite charities to adopt a pet animal:

  • PetSmart Charities
  • PetCo Love
  • Best Friends Animal Society
  • North Shore Animal League America
  • Paws Chicago
  • Animal Friends
  • Hearts United for Animals
  • Pet Project Foundation
  • Horse Haven

(At the end of this article we’ll also share our six-step approach on how you can select the best charity to support.)

PetSmart Charities: Giving Pets the Gift of a Brighter Future

PetSmart Charities was founded in 1994 by Jim and Janice Dougherty who also founded the PetSmart retail brand. Today, PetSmart Charities works to save the lives of homeless pets, as well as increase the availability of spay and neuter services in local communities.

Their impact and transparency ratings: PetSmart Charities holds the Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar, as well as a 4-Star rating from Charity Navigator

“Big Hearts, Local Impact.”

PetSmart Charities

What they do: PetSmart Charities is the leading funder of animal welfare in the US, working with over 4,000 like-minded organizations to provide emergency relief for companion animals, as well as access to affordable veterinary care. The charity runs adoption grants to help local animal shelters connect animals in need with more loving families by providing in-store adoptions and holding special events to promote responsible pet ownership. 

What they’ve achieved: To date, PetSmart Charities has found loving homes for 9,250,500 companion animals. The charity has also awarded $444,341,170 in grants to animal shelters and welfare organizations across North America and Canada. In addition, the charity has provided over $100,000,000 to support the running of low-cost spay and neuter clinics. 

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to PetSmart Charities through their website. You can also use their store finder to locate an adoption center near you or attend one of their regular adoption events.

PetCo Love: Changing Lives

Petco Love, formally known as the Petco Foundation, was set up in 1999 by American pet retailer Petco, to offer support to animal welfare groups across the US. They also run adoption centers in over 1,500 of their Petco stores nationwide. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: Petco Love holds the Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. The charity also boasts a 4-Star rating from Charity Navigator.

“Pet’s change our lives, let’s save theirs!”

Petco Love

What they do: Petco Love is on a mission to create a better world for companion animals. They do this by providing funding to over 4000 welfare organizations that are saving the lives of millions of vulnerable cats and dogs across the US. The charity also allows rehoming shelters to set up adoption centers in its stores, to increase the number of animals adopted. In addition, PetCo Love assists owners in finding their lost pets via its innovative Petco Love Lost database, using facial recognition software. 

What they’ve achieved: To date, Petco Love has integrated over 6.5 million companion animals into loving forever homes. In addition, the charity has invested $300 million in over 4000 animal welfare organizations to support their life-saving animal welfare work. Through its PetCo Love Lost database, PetCo Love has helped to reunite around 400,000 animals with their owners every year.  

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to PetCo Love through their website. You can also adopt a pet from one of their stores or you can register to foster one of their many companion animals in need.

Best Friends Animal Society: Save Them All

The Best Friends Animal Society was originally set up in 1984 by a group of 31 individuals, with the mission to create a sanctuary for homeless and abused animals in Utah. Since then, the charity has become a flagship organization for the no-kill movement by giving companion animals a second chance in loving homes.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Best Friends Animal Society holds the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. The charity also has a 100% rating for transparency and accountability, and a 2-star rating from Charity Navigator due to the money they invest into their fundraising programs.

“A world in which every pet has the chance to know love and companionship.”

Best Friends Animal Society

What they do: The Best Friends Animal Society cares for and actively finds forever homes for around 1600 companion animals in need. The charity also partners with over 3,300 shelters, spay/neuter organizations, and welfare groups in all 50 states to work towards its goal of ensuring the entire country is a no-kill zone by 2025. In addition, the Best Friends Animal Society acts as an online resource for pet health and training, and provides how-to guides for shelters. 

What they’ve achieved: Thanks to the efforts of the Best Friends Animal Society, 48% of all shelters in the US are now no-kill, which equates to an additional 279,000 companion animal lives saved in 2020 alone. Around 347,000 dogs and cats are still killed every year in shelters simply because they are not chosen, which is why the work of the Best Friends Animal Society is so essential to companion animals across America. 

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to the Best Friends Animal Society through their website. You can also adopt an animal from their sanctuary in Utah, or use their pet finder tool to locate a local shelter near you. Alternatively, you can foster a companion animal in need.

North Shore Animal League America: Leader in the No Kill Movement

The North Shore Animal League America was founded in 1944 by animal advocate Marianne H. Sanders, as a rescue shelter for homeless cats and dogs in and around North Hempstead. The charity declared itself a no-kill sanctuary a few years later. Today, North Shore Animal League America is the world’s largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization.

Their impact and transparency ratings: North Shore Animal League America holds a Silver Seal of Transparency from GuideStar and a 3-Star rating from Charity Navigator.

“Rescue. Nurture. Adopt. Educate.”

North Shore Animal League America

What they do: North Shore Animal League America is devoted to rescuing and rehabilitating homeless pets across America. They also work to educate the public on the needs of shelter pets through their online Mutt-i-grees curriculum program. The Animal League America Mobile Rescue Unit travels the country rescuing abandoned and mistreated animals, including dogs from commercial breeding farms. The animals are then treated and rehabilitated by the charities’ veterinary staff, before being put up for adoption. 

What they’ve achieved: To date, North Shore Animal League America has saved the lives of over 1,100,000 cats, dogs, puppies, and kittens from shelters and rescue groups that are often forced to euthanize animals as a form of population control. In a single year, the charities’ veterinary staff perform 65,000 medical examinations and vaccinate over 58,000 animals, while the shelter staff finds forever homes for around 18,000 of their canine and feline residents.

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to North Shore Animal League America through their website. You can also adopt one of their many companion animals in need of loving homes, or you can register as a foster parent for one or more of their special needs animals. 

Paws Chicago: Pets Are Worth Saving

Paws Chicago was founded in 1997 by Paula and Alexis Fasseas to address the escalating stray dog and cat crisis in Chicago. Today, the charity is dedicated to utilizing no-kill strategies in its shelter and is on a mission to rehome as many animals as possible into loving homes. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: Paws Chicago holds the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar, as well as a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator.

“To build no-kill communities, end the overpopulation of homeless animals, and transform animal welfare.”

Paws Chicago

What they do: Paws Chicago is dedicated to revolutionizing the outdated layout of traditional animal shelters, in the hope that it will lead to more adoptions. Their 13,000 square foot Pippen Fasseas Adoption Shelter is the Midwest’s first cage-free center. Instead, the animals have large rooms to explore as well as an array of enrichment activities. Through their Trap, Neuter, Return programs, Paws Chicago is reducing the number of stray kittens on the streets of America to lessen the burden on animal shelters. They also provide low-cost spay/neuter services via their Lurie Clinic and Gus Mobile service.

What they’ve achieved: As of 2021, Paws Chicago has a 98.17% save rating at their shelter, which is significantly higher than the US average rate of 76.6%. In 2020, the charity rehomed 4,100 cats and dogs into loving homes and placed 2,834 animals into foster homes. In the same year, the veterinary staff at Paws Chicago performed 9,453 spay/neuter procedures; 1,003 of which, were performed free of charge for low-income families.  

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to Paws Chicago through their website. You can also adopt one of their many animals in need or you have the opportunity to foster an animal at the shelter. Alternatively, there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer for the charity.

Animal Friends: Thinking Outside the Cage

Animal Friends was founded in 1943 by Alice C. Richardson as a shelter to care for unwanted pets in Pittsburg. Since then, the charity has grown into a full-service animal welfare organization; saving, rehabilitating, and rehoming disadvantaged companion animals in need.

Their impact and transparency ratings: According to their financial report, Animal Friends spent 83% of its expenditure on animal care programs and services, and 9% on fundraising. The charity also has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator

“A humane and compassionate future for every animal friend.”

Animal Friends

What they do: Animal Friends rescues, rehabilitates, and rehomes companion animals in crisis. They also run low-cost spay and neuter clinics for low-income families, as well as vaccine clinics. In addition, the charity runs a lost and found pets service plus a wide range of behavioral training classes for dogs, cats, and rabbits. 

What they’ve achieved: Since its founding, Animal Friends has served as an ongoing and compassionate solution to pet overpopulation. In 2020, the charity found loving homes for 1,659 animals and served 14,878 pets in their spay/neuter clinics. In the same year, they assisted over 100,000 humans and companion animals through their outreach programs and educational classes. Through their innovative mobile Chow Wagon Pet Food Bank, the charity provided 202,171lbs of food to over 29,000 starving animals. 

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to Animal Friends through their website. Alternatively, you can adopt a companion animal from their shelter or you can become a volunteer for the charity.

Hearts United For Animals: Relieving Animal Suffering 

Hearts United for Animals was founded in 1996 as a no-kill sanctuary dedicated to relieving companion animal suffering. Today, Hearts United for Animals is a Smithsonian award-winning, state-of-the-art sanctuary, that rescues animals from detrimental environments such as puppy mills, and places them in loving homes.  

Their impact and transparency ratings: According to their financial report, Hearts United for Animals spent 32% of its expenditure on medical expenses and animal care supplies, 31% on program expenses, and 7% on advertising and education programs. The charity also has a 100% Encompass Rating for Finance & Accountability from Charity Navigator

“To rescue and take creatures who are lost, afraid, hungry, or ill and give them a warm, soft bed, good food, medical care and most of all, love.”

Hearts United for Animals

What they do: Hearts United for Animals is one of the nation’s leaders in the fight against puppy mills; rescuing neglected puppies, providing them with medical care, and then rehoming them. In addition, the charity provides low-cost spay/neuter services for low-income families. Their Jetset Dogs initiative has allowed them to rescue puppies from the entire of the US and Canada and offer rehabilitated dogs the best homes available in the country, with minimal travel restrictions. 

What they’ve achieved: To date, Hearts United for Animals has rescued over 10,000 dogs from puppy mills in America. By the end of 2020, the charity had also spayed/neutered 20,000 dogs and cats which has prevented an estimated 2 million births. This has significantly reduced the pressure on animal shelters across the country.

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to Hearts United for Animals through their website. You can also adopt an animal in need from their center in Auburn or you can purchase items from the charities’ Amazon wishlist.

Pet Project Foundation: Enhancing the Quality of Life for all Companion Animals

The Pet Project Foundation (formerly known as FOSCA) was founded in 1996 by a group of concerned animal lovers, to build a shelter for homeless animals. In 2005, FOSCA merged with The Animal Rescue Foundation to form the Pet Project Foundation. Today, the charity is dedicated to maintaining a pro-humane approach to care for the cats, dogs, and rabbits at its shelter in San Clemente. 

Their impact and transparency ratings: The Pet Project Foundation holds the Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. The charity also has a 95% Encompass Rating for Finance & Accountability from Charity Navigator 

“To provide pro-humane care to lost and abandoned animals”

Pet Project Foundation

What they do: In partnership with the San Clemente-Dana Point Animal Shelter, the Pet Project Foundation provides medical care, funding, nutritious food, and pro-human care to abandoned companion animals in the local area. The animals at the sanctuary are given daily socialization by the charity’s generous volunteers who donate over 30,000 hours of their time to the sanctuary every year. This ensures all of the animals are able to be integrated successfully into new loving homes

What they’ve achieved: The Pet Project Foundation has remained committed to providing a safe refuge for every animal that enters the Dana Point Animal Shelter. In 2020, the charity raised over $40,000 for animal care and rehomed 350 of its residents to loving families. In the same year, the Pet Project Foundation rescued an additional 160 animals from overpopulated shelters and gave them a second chance at life. 

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to the Pet Project Foundation through their website. You can also adopt an animal in need from the Dana Point shelter, or you have the option of sponsoring one of their special needs animals.

Horses Haven: Providing Care for Vulnerable Equines

Horses Haven was founded in 1995 by Barbara Baker to rescue equines in need. Today, the charity is dedicated to saving as many horses, ponies, donkeys, and mules as it can, so they can be cared for and re-trained at the sanctuary in Howell, Michigan, before being rehomed.

Their impact and transparency ratings: Horses Haven holds the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. The charity also has a 95% Encompass Rating for Finance & Accountability from Charity Navigator.

“To rescue, rehabilitate, and rehome at risk equines.”

Horses Haven

What they do: Horses Haven works with law enforcement agencies to find and rescue equines that have been neglected or abandoned. The animals are then medically rehabilitated and cared for at the Horses Haven sanctuary. All the horses in their care (as well as other equines) are then found forever homes with local citizens. For the animals that are not ready to be rehomed, the charity has a sponsorship scheme to ensure every animal gets the care it deserves.  

What they’ve achieved: The volunteer staff at the Horses Haven Sanctuary work tirelessly 7 days a week to ensure all of their equines receive appropriate training, medical care, and rehabilitation so they can be integrated into new homes. The charity cares for up to 70 horses at any one time. In 2021, Horses Haven took in 110 vulnerable equines and rehomed 75 of their rehabilitated residents. 

Ways to contribute: You can donate directly to Horses Haven through their website. You can also adopt or sponsor one of the equines. Alternatively, you can purchase items from their wishlist, such as hay baskets or pine shavings. 

How Can You Select the Best Charities to Support?

The charities on the list are, we deem, the best charities to adopt a pet animal. However, you may have a particular charity you want to support. Let’s look at what you can do to ensure your contribution has the most significant impact.

  • Check out the charity website. Charities that are worthy of your donations are transparent in their mission and their figures. Familiarise yourself with their history, mission, and values. Their website usually is the best place to start.
  • Identify the charity’s mission. Without a goal, the charity is likely to fail. If the charity’s mission isn’t clear, it’s probably worth looking for a charity that does have a clear mission. 
  • Check if the charity has measurable goals. An effective charity has clear goals. You want to know your donation will help the charity reach its goals. But if it doesn’t have targets, it’s likely to fail or squander your gift. The charity should be able to account for its spending and supply evidence of the work they do.
  • Assess the successes or goals the charity has achieved. You wouldn’t invest in a business if it kept missing its targets. In the same way, charities are like this too. If no one is assessing the progress a charity makes in reaching its targets, the chances are not making positive change.
  • Check the charity’s financials and stats. Trustworthy organizations will publish financial statements and reports each year. Some might be exempt from having to do so, but they should be able to provide them to public members who are interested in donating.
  • Locate sources who work with or benefit from the charity. Word of mouth and first-hand experience of a charity’s work lets you know the charity’s quality. If you’re able to do so, check out the charity for yourself or speak to someone familiar with it. This way, your donation will go to the right place. 

How Can You Best Support These Charities?

After you’ve made your decision, it’s time for you to decide on how you’d like to help the charities you’ve chosen. Check how you can help – each charity runs specific programs that have unique aims. Find out what the aim of such programs is and whether they are right for you. 

Here are a few ways you can help your chosen charity:

  • Donate money. You can find donation pages on the website of most charities. Your donation can be a one-time payment, or you can set it to be deducted regularly at different intervals. You can mostly pay via credit card, but some charities also take PayPal or Bitcoin payments.
  • Buy their official merchandise. The charities can also raise money by selling merchandise. So, you can support them by buying the mugs, shirts, caps, pens, pencils, and any other such items they may be selling. Ideally, you should buy as much as you can to share and spread the word about the charity’s activities.
  • Donate a percentage of your online purchases. If you bought anything on sites like Amazon lately, you’d find a prompt asking you to donate to your favorite charities through their Amazon Smile program. You can set this up so that your chosen charities will get a fraction of your online purchases.
  • Engage in volunteer work. As you’ve seen from our descriptions above, some charities engage in a lot of local and grassroots programs. You can help by taking on and organizing the program in your local area.
  • Help their fundraising efforts. You can spread the word about the charity in your workplace, school, church, etc., and hold creative fundraising drives on social media or offline within your small circles.
  • Share their stories. Most charities have compelling stories that you can share with your audience to attract more people to the cause.

Final Thoughts

Now it is just up to you to select the charity that resonates most with you. And whichever charity you end up choosing and contributing to, we are sure that they will immensely appreciate your support. Hopefully, the information within this article has made this selection process a bit easier for you to support charities dedicated to adopting pet animals – based on the causes that matter most to you.

Stay impactful,

PS: Finally, I want to leave you with a thought-provoking TED talk from Dan Pallotta, a leading philanthropic activist and fundraiser, about what is wrong with the way we think about charities – and what we can do about it:

Sources

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Carla Shaik

Carla is passionate about animal welfare and our natural environment and is on a mission to give you the knowledge you need to help protect our planet and all of its inhabitants. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare, is a teaching support officer at the College of West Anglia, and also works as a cat sitter in her local community. Aside from writing, she has a love of music, teaching her daughter how to play piano, and enjoys getting creative with craft activities.

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