Best 10 Dog Rescues in DC

In 2020 alone, there were just under 3,000 canines taken into animal shelters in Washington DC according Animal Shelters Count data. The number of cats taken into shelters is slightly highly for the same time frame. Aside from those taken to shelters, many others are living as strays on the street. While DC is not known for having an abundance of space, there is always room for a furry friend in your home. 

If you are considering adding a new pet to your family, please consider adoption instead of buying from a pet store.

We have put together a list of the best dog rescues in DC that you should consider when adopting your next furry friend.

What You Need to Adopt a Dog From a Shelter or Rescue

An adorable greyhound lying down

Who’s that smiling back at me?

The requirements to adopt a pet from a shelter will vary depending on the location.

However, there are some requirements that are universal regardless of the location.

Complete Online Adoption Form

First, you will need to fill out an application for adoption. The application will cover regular details such as your identity, address, and reason for wanting to adopt. Most shelter applications will also ask for information regarding other pets in the home and other family members who reside with you.

Have References Ready

If you are renting your home or apartment, you will also need to provide a copy of your lease or a letter of permission from the owner stating that pets are OK. In most cases, you will need to provide references, and in some cases vet references.

Be Prepared for a Home Visit

Depending on the location, the shelter may ask to visit your home to view the condition in which the adopted animal will reside. In almost all shelter adoptions, a meet and greet with the pet and everyone living in the home is also required.

Do You Own Other Pets?

If you have pets at home already, you will also need to bring them in to meet your new pet to ensure they are a good match. Only adults are able to adopt dogs from a shelter.

Other Requirements

In some cities, the minimum age is 18, while in others it is 21. Check with your local shelter for more information.

You will need to have a valid ID and also the adoption fee for the dog in question. The fee will vary depending on the animal and the location from which you plan to adopt.

All pets from shelters or rescues will need to be spayed or neutered upon adoption. For puppies, a shelter will usually have you place a refundable deposit for the animal to get the procedure once they have reached the minimum age. In some cities, all pets in the home must be spayed or neutered in order for you to be approved for a shelter dog adoption.

Top 10 Dog Rescues in DC

A Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie) on a walk

Paw-perazzi caught me doin’ my thing again.

1. Homeward Trails Animal Rescue 

Address: 11116 Fairfax Station Road, Fairfax Station, VA 22039
Phone: 703-249-5066
Email: info@homewardtrails.org
Location Type: Rescue
Designation: 501(c)(3) non-profit
Fees: Varies

All animals offered for adoption will be vaccinated, treated for parasites, spay/neutered and implanted with a microchip. These services are included with the adoption fee.

Services Offered: This rescue is based in Fairfax Station, VA but serves the greater Washington DC metro area including Virginia and Maryland. Adopting out animals that were homeless, abandoned, or neglected from rural and low-income areas. The animals are adopted into forever homes. They also accept owner surrenders. In addition they run a large network of foster care providers who take homeless dogs and cats into their home to rehabilitate them and prepare them for adoption.  

Adoption Requirements: To adopt a pet you will need to submit an application, allow an in-home visit, undergo an interview, and be asked to provide references. Current pets in the home must be spayed or neutered. You must be 21 to adopt. If you're renting you'll be required to show proof that pets are allowed and if you already have pets they'll have to be spayed/neutered and a vet reference will also be required. 

If you're ready to view their adoptable dogs, click here

2. Lucky Dog Animal Rescue

Address: 5159 Lee Highway Arlington, VA 22207
Phone: 703-237-5327
Email: info@luckydoganimalrescue.org
Location Type: Rescue
Designation: 501(c)(3) non-profit
Fees: $250 - $475

All animals offered for adoption will be vaccinated, treated for parasites, spay/neutered and implanted with a microchip. These services are included with the adoption fee. 

Services Offered: This location adopts out animals that were homeless, abandoned from high-kill shelters, owners who can no longer care for them or neglected into forever homes. 

Adoption Requirements: You can attend a virtual adoption event or submitting an application for a specific animal. You will need to fill out the application, allow a virtual in-home visit, undergo a virtual interview. The adoption coordinator will also check your vet reference to ensure any current or past pets were kept up-to-date with their shots and medical care. Once approved you will pick up your pet and an ID tag.

To get started view their adoptable pets from this page

3. Partnership for Animal Welfare

Address: P.O. Box 1074 Greenbelt, MD 20768
Phone: 301-572-4729
Email: info@paw-rescue.org
Location Type: Rescue & Shelter
Designation: 501(c)(3) non-profit
Fees: Varies

All animals offered for adoption will be vaccinated, treated for parasites, spay/neutered and implanted with a microchip. These services are included with the adoption fee.

Services Offered: This location adopts out animals from local shelters, kennels, and foster homes serving suburban Maryland and Washington DC areas. 

Adoption Requirements: To adopt a pet you will need to submit an application, allow an in-home visit, undergo an interview, and allow a follow-up check-up on the pet once it's in your home. A vet check is also performed if you have or previously had other pets. Several adoption shows are held every other weekend in the suburban Maryland area to allow prospective adopters to meet up with with the animals and volunteers.

View their adoptable doggos here.

4. Humane Rescue Alliance

Address: 71 Oglethorpe St NW, Washington, DC 20011
Phone: 202-723-5730
Email: adopt@humanerescuealliance.org
Location Type: Shelter & Rescue
Designation: Publicly Funded
Fees: $10 - $250 depending on animal species.

All animals offered for adoption will be vaccinated, treated for parasites, spay/neutered and implanted with a microchip. These services are included with the adoption fee.

Services Offered: This location offers rescued dogs, cats, and other animals for adoption and serves DC, MD and VA states. This 

Adoption Requirements: Select an animal from the available stock online, then fill out the application. The interview, meet and greet, and counseling session will all be completed virtually. Once approved, an appointment will be made to pick up your new pet. Generally within 24-48 hours after the virtual meet and greet. 

Visit this page to view all their great dogs currently available. 

5. City Dogs Rescue & City Kitties

Address: 301 H St. NE Washington, DC 20008
Email: info@citydogsrescuedc.org
Location Type: Rescue
Designation: 501(c)(3) non-profit
Fees: $200 for senior citizens, $395 for all others.

All animals offered for adoption will be vaccinated, treated for parasites, and implanted with a microchip. These services are included with the adoption fee.

Services Offered: This rescue offers rescued dogs and cats for adoption from overcrowded and high-kill shelters offering a lifeline to many wonderful pets. They don't have a shelter, all available dogs and cats are in private foster home but you can attend their weekly adoption events to meet them! This small but great rescue group serves Washington DC Metro area including parts of MD and VA. 

Adoption Requirements: Once you find a dog you like you will need to fill out an adoption application online. Home visits, references, and an in-person meet and greet are required. Spay/neutering is required and is a separate expense. For renters checks with your landlords will be made to ensure doggos are permitted. 

View their adoptable dogs on this page

A white male Labrador outdoors in a sitting position

Just look at that smile.

6. K-9 Lifesavers

Address: Rockville, MD 20850
Phone: 202-263-1990
Email: adopt@k-9lifesavers.org
Location Type: Rescue
Designation: 501(c)(3) non-profit
Fees: $200 -$375

All animals offered for adoption will be vaccinated, treated for parasites, spay/neutered and implanted with a microchip. These services are included with the adoption fee. Please note puppies 6 months and younger must be spayed/neuter at the adopter's expense.

Services Offered: This 100% volunteer-run organization brings animals from the surrounding areas and offers them for adoption in areas Washington D.C, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. This rescue group holds adoption events every weekend throughout the DC area since they don't operate a shelter so check out their next adoption event through this link

Adoption Requirements: To adopt a pet you must be 21, and you will need to submit an application, undergo an interview, and provide references. Current pets in the home must be spayed or neutered, and a in-home visit is required to adopt. The adoption process is generally completed within one week of your application submission.

Click here to meet doggos ready for their forever homes.

7.Rural Dog Rescue

Address: 733 8th Street SE, Washington, DC 20003
Phone: 410-310-4420
Email: info@ruraldogrescue.com
Location Type: Rescue
Designation: 501(c)(3) non-profit
Fees: $400

All animals offered for adoption will be vaccinated, treated for parasites, spay/neutered and implanted with a microchip. These services are included with the adoption fee.

Services Offered: Rural Dog Rescue's 100% volunteer work is truly inspiring: no dog in dire need of rescue is ever turned away. They rescue dogs that are at most risk of being euthanized  from high-kill shelters in rural areas and rehabilitate them ready for adoption. They serve the Washington, D.C area, including Northern Virginia and Maryland.

Adoption Requirements: To adopt a pet you will need to submit an application, undergo an interview, and provide references. A home visit with all family members is required. Current pets in the home must be spayed or neutered, and an in-home visit is required to adopt. Dogs are met at adoption events which are frequently held since they don't have a facility and is 100% foster based. 

Click the links for their adoption application and available dogs for adoption. 

8. DC Paws Rescue

Address: P.O. Box 23439, Washington, DC 2002
Email: info@dcpawsrescue.org
Location Type: Rescue
Designation: 501(c)3 organization.
Fees: $350.

All animals offered for adoption will be vaccinated, treated for parasites, spay/neutered and implanted with a microchip. These services are included with the adoption fee.

Services Offered: This rescue is an all-volunteer, foster-based dog and cat rescue in the Washington, DC area, MD and VA and offers animals from the county's animal control facility for adoption. You can meet adoptable dogs by visiting a scheduled DC PAWS adoption events.

Adoption Requirements: To adopt a pet you will need to submit an application, undergo an interview, and provide landlord/references. A home visit is also scheduled. Current pets in the home must be spayed or neutered. View their adoptable pets here

9. Last Chance Animal Rescue

Address: 8500 Bensville Rd Waldorf, MD 20603
Phone:  301-274-9409
Email: dogs@lastchanceanimalrescue.org
Location Type: Rescue & Shelter
Designation: 501(c)(3) non-profit
Fees: Varies per animal type and age.

All animals offered for adoption will be vaccinated, treated for parasites, spay/neutered and implanted with a microchip. These services are included with the adoption fee.

Services Offered: This rescue operates in Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia and saves animals from more than 40 surrounding area high-risk shelters and places them in forever homes. They also offer disaster relief pet services. Meet their pets through their adoption events held every Saturday. 

Adoption Requirements: To adopt a pet you will need to submit an application online, undergo an interview, and provide references. You can also attend an adoption event on Saturdays to choose a pet on-site. They’re a little rescue doing big things, they sure mean it with approx. 10,000 animals rehomed a year. 

View available pups on their Facebook page posted Friday and Saturday mornings. 

10. Operation Paws for Homes

Address: P.O. Box 35606 N. Chesterfield, VA 23235
Phone: 703-344-7320
Email: info@ophrescue.org
Established: 2010
Location Type: Rescue
Designation: 501(c)(3) non-profit
Fees: $250 - $400

All animals offered for adoption will be vaccinated, treated for parasites, spay/neutered and implanted with a microchip. These services are included with the adoption fee.

Services Offered: This location offers supplies, medical care, and food donations to local shelters. They also rescue shelter animals, strays, and neglected pets from overcrowded shelters to foster homes in MD, DC, PA and VA and offer them for adoption. Dogs are located in foster homes but you can attend one of their many adoption events to meet them. 

Adoption Requirements: To adopt a pet you will need to submit an application online, undergo an interview, and provide three references. All current pets must be spayed or neutered and have up-to-date vaccinations. Once an application is approved, you can choose an available pet. Approval process takes between 2-7 days.

Click here to view their adoptable doggos. 

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