We believe by visiting shelters and rescues in person, we get to know the people and the situations firsthand. We are better able to understand the challenges they face, and the resources they need to face them. This is why we endorse them as organizations worthy of your time, attention, and donations. And to date, we have visited 83 Shelters and Rescues in 11 states across Southern US!
Learn more about our experiences at each organization, to appreciate each unique organization and meet the heroes and the animals they are working to save. Be sure to read the blog post linked to each listing of the shelters and rescues that we have visited.
You’ll also note where we have provided updates. Leadership and situations change, and not always for the better. You’ll also read about several that are not doing enough with what they are given. We leave it up to you as to whether they are worthy of your donations.
Who Will Let the Dogs Out is in the process of assigning ‘Shelter Liaisons’ to each of the organizations we visit so that we can stay updated regarding their situation and offer help when we can. If you’d like to be a Shelter Liaison, we’d love to have you. Click here to fill our our volunteer application or email us.
We do our best to keep this page updated, but if you experience any links that don’t work or if you are one of these shelters/rescues that would like your entry updated, please email email@example.com.
Bibb County Animal Control
Bibb County Animal Control is technically a dog pound, but with the help of concerned citizens and rescue advocates, they are able to save many (but not all) of the animals in their care. Read about our visit here.
Private non-profit rescue run by a remarkable woman who specializes in Great Dane’s but rescues all kinds. Read about our visit here.
HAWS is a volunteer based group that assists dogs in the Huntsville area who live outside 24/7 by installing trolley systems and pens, providing items like dog houses, bedding, and food, and educating and assisting owners with veterinary care and spay/neuter services. Read about our day with HAWS here.
The Chilton County shelter is a bright spot in the center of Alabama with a dedicated staff saving every adoptable animal. Read about our visit here.
SHARK is the volunteer group that effectively runs the Henry County/Abbeyville City shelter and animal control. When the county and city decided to shut down their shelters, SHARK stepped up to fill the gap. Located in the wiregrass corner of Alabama, it’s current director is Dave Rice, a 76-year-old disabled veteran. They run the shelter that takes in over a thousand dogs a year completely on donations and sends all their dogs out through rescue. Read about our visit with SHARK here.
mailing address: P.O. Box 126, Abbeville, Alabama 36310
Royal Palm Beach
A Second Chance Rescue moves 1000 animals, primarily puppies and kittens from Alabama (mostly) to south Florida to be adopted. They also save some medical needs dogs/cats, plus take their custom transport/veterinary van to hurricane ravaged areas. Read about our visit here.
Big Dog Ranch is a nonprofit rescue founded by Lauree Simmons that rescues as many as 5000 dogs a year. The animals are not kept in individual kennels, but in bunk rooms and participate in play groups in their four enormous outdoor spaces. This innovative private shelter is saving all kinds of dogs from the south and all over the world. They have first-class veterinary care, a program to train dogs for veterans, community education programs, a world-class facility, and over a thousand volunteers. Read about our visit here.
Wellington (and Camden, South Carolina)
Danny and Ron’s Rescue is a private nonprofit that saves dogs from all over the south. Dogs are housed primarily in their South Carolina home (yes home – not shelter), but Danny and Ron bring busloads of adoptable dogs with them to the Florida horseshow world where they find first-class homes. Read about our visit here.
Furry Friends is a private nonprofit that has been rescuing animals in Florida and beyond for 40 years. Their Jupiter location includes an adoption center and a veterinary clinic. They are expanding operations to include a ranch and a mobile veterinary clinic that will enable them to save even more animals. Read about our visit here.
Live Oak City Animal Control
Live Oak is a small public animal control facility that has a history of killing a lot of animals, thankfully, they have a new shelter manager/ACO at the helm who is committed to saving every adoptable animal.
Polk County Bully Project is a private nonprofit rescue shelter saving dogs primarily from the Polk County Public Shelter where every pitbull who lands there will be killed unless pulled by a rescue (they cannot be adopted out locally). Polk County is the number one county in Florida and number four in the nation for killing dogs. Read about our visit.
Putnam County Animal Control
Putnam County Animal Control is an open intake publicly funded shelter that works hard to save all their adoptable dogs (and cats), but they struggle with a high volume of stray and surrendered animals and never enough space or resources. Read about our visit here.
The Sanctuary is a last stop for a lot of dogs in Redland. Junior works with rescues and shelters all over south Florida, taking in dogs who need rehabilitation or a safe place to ‘reset’. Click here to read about our visit with Junior at the Sanctuary.
The Redland Rockpit Abandoned Dog Project rescues, rehabilitates, and adopts out as many dogs as they can, but the numbers are so large that they also maintain a dozen or more feeding stations all over the Redland area to feed the strays and feral dogs, many of whom are dumped their by the owners. The southernmost tip of Florida has become a dumping ground and this organization works to raise awareness of the situation and help as many dogs as they can. They also work with the Felix-Verela High School Veterinary Science Magnet program whose students care for and train some of their dogs. Read about our visit at Felix-Varela High here.
Fannin County Animal Control
Fannin County is a small animal control facility doing a lot with the little they have thanks to a caring ACO and a dedicated part-time rescue coordinator. Read about our visit here.
Fitzgerald-Ben Hill County Humane Society
FBHCS is a small shelter that strives to be community centered. They are working hard to improve the outcomes for all of their animals. Read about our visit here.
Heard County Animal Control is a small shelter on the campus of the County Police barracks. They have a long history of killing dogs, but thanks to one dedicated volunteer they are currently saving all the adoptable animals mainly through rescue transports. Read about our visit here.
Blue Ridge, GA
HSBR is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that supports the animals and community of Blue Ridge. They are an intentional shelter that is expanding its reach and impact. Read about our visit here.
Paws Furever Home
Paws Furever Home is both a dog rescue and a cat sanctuary. They rescue animals from the surrounding counties (that do not have shelters) and within their community. They also work to solve the problem through advocacy work with the Georgia Pet Coalition and with a planned Spay/Neuter Mobile clinic. Read about our visit here.
PAWS (Public Animal Welfare Services) is a large, brand-new facility that houses both Animal Control and Animal Care under the same roof and leadership. The committed staff are working hard to save as many animals as they can, while also advocating for better animal laws and struggling to increase community support and involvement. Read about our visit here.
Caldwell County Animal Control
Small municipal shelter that has limited budget, but works hard to save all their dogs through adoption and rescue. Has only four part-time employees and no budget for food or supplies.
Camp Jean is a private, nonprofit shelter that sets an incredible example of how well sheltering can be done. It quite literally feels like ‘camp.’ They pull dogs who are at risk from local shelters and pounds, many with medical or behavioral issues that need more time than an average public shelter or pound can give them.
Read about our visit at Camp Jean here.
Daviess County Animal Care and Control
Municipal shelter that handles large number of animals and is working towards reducing their euthanization rate. They are making great strides thanks to an excellent leader, committed volunteers, community engagement, and a new veterinary clinic on site.
The Fix Foundation is a nonprofit spay/neuter clinic that provides surgeries and shot clinics for Simpson County, local rescues, plus all of the animals housed at the shelter next door. They are changing the story in Simpson County Kentucky. Read about our visit here.
Kentucky Saving Them Together
A foster-based rescue saving dogs (and puppies) all over Kentucky, assisting with spay/neuter, and advocating for animals in need. Read about our visit here.
Open Arms Animal Shelter (owned and operated by Lawrence County Humane Society)
This small private shelter serves as the county’s shelter. It was started 30 years ago by the same woman who runs it today. They work hard to get animals out through rescue and do very few local adoptions. Read about our visit here.
Paws 4 the Cause rescues dogs all along the I-75 corridor from Cincinnati to the Tennessee border. They specialize in the hardest of luck cases, bringing them to their downtown shelter for assessment, veterinary care, and immediate placement in foster care before adopting them out or transferring them to rescue. They are in teh midst of renovating their building to include expanded kennels, a spay/neuter clinic, and community space to bring together people of all ages and all walks of life to help the animals.
You can read about our visit with Remy and Paws 4 the Cause here.
Corinth-Alcorn is the only shelter for six counties in the northeast corner of Mississippi. They are chronically overcrowded in their dangerously outdated building whose roof is covered in blue tarps. Committed to becoming a no-kill shelter, the staff at Corinth-Alcorn saves every animal they can and utilizes every possible space, but without a new shelter building they are fighting a losing battle. Read about our visit here and listen to the podcast about our visit here.
Just south of Memphis, TN, Horn Lake struggles with a large population of not just unwanted pit bulls, but heartworm positive dogs. Despite those obstacles, the remarkable staff utilize play groups/ socialization, rescue, and determination to save every animal they can. Read about our visit here.
(like many municipal shelters, if you want your donation to go to Horn Lake, it must go via a third party otherwise it may very well end up in the general fund and not help the animals)
Midsouth Animal Welfare Foundation
Midsouth focuses on local low-cost spay/neuter, moving puppies out of the south, and tackling rescues with serious medical needs. They provide veterinary care, foster homes, and transport to rescues out of the area. Midsouth is fairly close to the Ripley Market, a flea market that sells puppies and dogs once a month flooding the are with unvaccinated, unaltered, ‘purebred’ animals with a variety of health issues.
UPDATE: Meredith is no longer working with Midsouth Animal Welfare Foundation.
Mississippi Animal Rescue League
MARL is an open-intake shelter in Jackson, Mississippi that takes in over 10,000 animals a year and destroys about 80% of them per the policies established by their board. We are including them on this list because this shelter needs more help than any other place we’ve visited, but so far we have not figured out how we can help change their entrenched habits so that they could embrace new programs and policies that could save lives. Read about our visit here and PLEASE refrain from offering judgment. Instead, help us find solutions. We remain convinced that change only comes after awareness. Listen to our podcast about MARL here.
Hayti Dog Pound
This dog pound has a hard history of killing every dog that landed in its pound, but there is hope in Hayti now with new advocates working hard to change that history. Read about our visit here. Sadly, Dave is no longer working for the city, so the fate of the many stray dogs in Hayti is unknown at this point.
Anson County shelter is a small but mighty shelter working hard (and creatively) to save dogs just an hour outside Charlotte. Read about our visit to Anson here.
Gaston Animal Care and Enforcement
This public shelter handles as many as 3500 animals a year. With 14 animal control officers, and a full staff, headed by a veterinarian, they offer first class care. They are a success story of how a publicly funded county-run shelter can successfully turn its story around. Read about our visit here.
Lenior is a small shelter in one of the poorest towns in North Carolina that is holding its own thanks to the heroic efforts of staff and their volunteer rescue coordinator, Helen. Click here to read about our first visit to Lenoir and here to read about our second.
UPDATE: Helen is no longer working with Lenoir SPCA, so we cannot vouch for the situation there.
A Shelter Friend
A Shelter Friend saves dogs from Bladen County Animal Shelter and moves them out through rescues, many times pulling the dogs (and cats) out on the day before their time is up. Click here to read about our visit to A Shelter Friend
Abbeville County Shelter
Abbeville is a small brand new shelter that replaced the wretched Abbeville City Shelter (an ancient cement block building without proper heat or air conditioning or public access that was finally destroyed). Abbeville’s well-qualified director is striving to create a progressive shelter that can not just save animals but be a resource for its community.
Anderson County PAWS
Humane Society of Greenwood
Greenwood is blessed with a new, modern shelter to replace the desperate place where too many dogs died. The continue to work to become a no-kill shelter in a challenging part of our country. Read about our visit to Greenwood here. Our volunteer visited a second time, read about that visit here.
Newberry County Animal Shelter:
Newberry County is a large county-run facility in South Carolina with 48 kennels that are almost always full. While they do as much as they can to prevent it, they do find it necessary to kill dogs who remain at the facility too long to make space for new dogs coming in.
My post inspired by our visit to Newberry County.
Oconee Humane Society
Oconee is a high volume, open intake shelter where the Humane Society works VERY hard to save dogs and to be a resource for their community. Read about our first visit to Oconoee here. Our volunteer team visited a second time, you can read about that visit here.
All 4s Rescue League
This amazing group spends their days on the streets of Memphis offering dog houses, food, spay/neuter, and when necessary, rescue, to animals living their lives on chains outdoors. Read about our visit here.
Animal Harbor is a private nonprofit shelter saving dogs in the Franklin County area, including pulling dogs from Franklin County Animal Control. It is a progressive shelter with excellent leadership, staff, volunteer programs, foster programs, and rescue connections. Read about our visit here.
Animal Rescue Corps
Animal Rescue Corps is an ‘army’ of volunteers all over the country who step in to help in the case of natural and manmade disasters (hurricanes, hoarding cases, etc.) to assist law enforcement to provide shelter, medical treatment, behavior assessments, and ultimately rescue placement for all kinds of animals. Read about our visit here and listen to our podcast about that visit here.
Bedford County Animal Control
Bedford County Animal Control is a public managed-intake facility that handles approximately 1200 animals a year with a spay/neuter surgery on site which a local vet uses to help get more animals spayed/neutered before they leave the shelter. Most of their animals leave through rescue, but about a quarter are adopted out locally.
Bradley County SPCA
Bradley County SPCA is the public shelter for the county located in the city of Cleveland (but planning to build a new facility in the county). New leadership has brought a brighter future for this small shelter. Read about our visit here.
CASA (Charlie’s Angels Saving Animals)
CASA is in the (nonprofit) business of saving animals via transport. Twice weekly they gather animals from overcrowded, underfunded shelters, rescues, and dog pounds all over middle and western Tennessee and bring them to their site for vaccines and health certificates to prepare them for travel. Then the dogs are moved to out-of-state rescues via plane and/or vans. CASA saves 250 animals a month and does not charge receiving rescues for their services. They are dependent on donations. Read about our CASA (and their remarkable founder Laura Prechel) here.
Cheatham County Animal Control
Cheatham County Animal Control is an open intake, public shelter doing impossible things with an impossibly small budget in a rural county in Tennessee. They have excellent leadership, innovative programs, and a volunteer program that is a model for other shelters. A remarkable independent 501c3 group, SCAMP (Saving Cheatham Animals Mission Pawsable) started by Cheatham volunteers directly helps the shelter, and is a model for how private citizens can raise funds to help a public shelter.
Read about our 2019 visit to Cheatham here, and our most recent visit to Cheatham to learn about SCAMP here.
Franklin County Animal Control
Franklin County Animal Control is a publicly funded, open intake shelter that is sometimes forced to ‘euthanize for space’. Thanks to the efforts of their dedicated Animal Control Officer, Heather, they save as many animals as they can through rescue connections. Read about our 2019 visit here, and our most recent visit in 2021 here.
Halfway Home Animal Rescue
Halfway Home Animal Rescue (featured in our short documentary, Amber’s Halfway Home) saved thousands of animals every year, pulling from the pounds in western Tennessee. In many cases, they are a dog’s only chance at making it out of a dog pound alive. Read about our visit here.
Maury County Animal Shelter
Paws to Care
Paws to Care works to save dogs from the Dyersburg-Dyer County Animal Shelter helping to take them from at 90% kill rate in 2017 to no-kill status this year. They focus on moving dogs out via rescues, local spay/neuter, and a new TNR cat program. Read about our visit here.
Rural Animal Rescue Effort (RARE)
RARE was founded and is currently run by a remarkable woman who not only handles the adoptions and houses many of the animals at her home, but travels all over western Tennessee saving animals who are weeks, if not days, away from dying from neglect in dog pounds. She truly is a life-saving hero for many, many dogs. Read about my heartbreaking visit with Trisha to the Huntingdon Dog Pound here.
Red Fern Animal Shelter
Red Fern is a private non-profit animal shelter started by two sisters to do the work their county wasn’t doing — saving animals abandoned, neglected, and/or unwanted in Weakley County, TN. Now, in their sixties, Anne and Kim care for as many as 70 dogs and over 140 cats.
You can read about our visit to Red Fern (and Huntingdon Dog pound) here.
They can use ‘pretty much anything’ and I’ve been bugging them to create an Amazon wishlist, but you can send donations to:
Red Fern Animal Shelter, 1487 Miles Rd.,Dresden, TN. 38225
Scamp (Saving Cheatham Animals Mission Pawsible)
SCAMP is a 501c3 organization that raises money to directly help the animals at Cheatham County Animal Shelter. SCAMP provides immediate help by purchasing needed supplies, veterinary services, and pretty much anything outside the budget that a shelter would have to requisition the county government to obtain. Read about our visit with SCAMP here.
SPCA of Bradley County
This small public shelter is working hard to improve conditions and the odds for the animals in its care. With new leadership and a capital building campaign, they are ready to turn a new page.
Margaret’s Saving Grace Bully Rescue
MSGBR saves the hardest to save dogs — pit bulls. They often choose to rescue dogs with medical issues and in desperate circumstances. You can read about our visit with them here.
You can donate directly via the website or mail donations to:
Margaret’s Saving Grace Bully Rescue
115 Chester St
Front Royal, Virginia 22630
This small municipal shelter is doing great things and saving all the adoptable animals in their care on a tiny budget through great efforts. Read about my visit here (combined with visit to Warren County shelter).
Paws of SWVA’s mission is to keep animals out of the Wise County Shelter through foster homes, adoptions, and spay/neuter transports. Read about our visit with Paws here.
Petersburg Animal Care and Control
This small municipal, barebones shelter is hidden away in a woody area just off the turnpike. The new director is doing all she can with what little she has. Read about our visit here.
Scott County Shelter budget only includes food, nothing else. Everything else, including medical treatment, dewormers, and flea/tick treatment must be purchased by volunteers or donated. The budget also does not pay for an employee to come in on the weekends, so once again, the remarkable volunteers of the Scott County Humane Society volunteer their time to clean kennels and care and feed the dogs.
Read about our visit to Scott County in this post.
Tappahannock/Essex County Animal Shelter
Tappahannock/Essex County Animal Shelter (TECAS) is a small, county-owned facility which opened in 2008. They are a ‘kill shelter’ but do their very best (which presently is best described as ‘no-kill’ thanks to the leadership of one remarkable woman) to minimize the need to euthanize animals unnecessarily.
VA Paws for Pits
Low volume, foster-based pit bull rescue that specializes in the hardest of cases. This is one really special rescue that has created a community to not only save dogs, but help people. Read about our visit here.
A public animal shelter that is working to save all the animals in their county and offering low-cost spay/neuter services. Read about my visit here. (Note: Since that visit, the shelter has opened a spay/neuter clinic that is offering spay/neuter and basic vaccine services at a reasonable rate.)
You can donate via paypal (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by mail:
Saving Webster Dogs, c/o Rose Cochran, 168 foxfire Lane, Cowen WV 26206.
Huntington-Cabell-Wayne Animal Shelter
Municipal shelter that serves two counties and one city combining resources to provide excellent care and life-saving. This shelter is blessed with extraordinary leadership, a committed community, and a wonderful staff. They depend on rescues to keep their numbers under control.
New River Humane Society
After operating the Animal Control shelter for the county for several decades, NRHS is currently foster-based but will open a shelter building in 2023. They continue to serve their community with low-cost spay/neuter vouchers.
Operation Underdog is a foster-based rescue that saves the hardest dogs to save –those with serious medical needs, difficult behavioral challenges, and seniors – the dogs least likely to be rescued or adopted – the underdogs of the animal shelter world.