How to give a bit of cheer to some adorable animals this holiday


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It's the season of giving. This year, if you have any extra to spare, check out the following animal rescues, shelters and sanctuaries. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and we encourage you to check out similar organizations in your areas. 

Remember, donations are tax deductible in case you need a little extra incentive!


1. Bark N Rest Retirement Center

Bark -N- Rest/Azle, TX 

Founded on Nov. 9, 2009 in Azle, Texas, Bark N Rest Retirement Center takes in senior dogs and all special needs, terminally ill and handicapped dogs. They are a volunteer 501c3 nonprofit organization run solely on donations. They've had a tough year. Help make 2016 a little brighter for them by making a donation.


2. Our Best Friends

Our Best Friends/Valley Stream, NY 

Based in Valley Stream, Long Island, this small animal rescue makes it its mission to help animals that have been abandoned, neglected or abused. They help network lost and found dogs, encourage dog owners to spay and neuter their pets and speak out against puppy mills. Their most recent rescue is a puppy mill survivor. She is special needs, but is mobile. Check her out:


3. Yonkers Animal Shelter

Yonkers Animal Shelter/NY 

These guys work hard to find homes for countless dogs and cats. Donations are always welcomed at the municipal shelter including old towels, blankets, dog and cat food (canned and dry). Check out that picture of Cosmo the Chihuahua and his sister Brandy — both of whom were adopted out of the shelter and returned to have their photo taken with Santa.


4. Animal Samaritans

Animal Samaritans/California 

Based in California, this is a no-kill animal shelter and veterinary clinic whose mission it is to improve the lives of animals and people. They offer free spay or neuter for pit bulls and pit bull mixes, and are always looking for fosters and adopters for the countless animals they save. Make a donation here.


5. Denise's Dog Rescue

Denise's Dog Rescue/Valley Stream, NY 

This relatively new organization rescues dogs from New York's city pound, takes in owner surrenders and assists local rescue groups with fundraising and adoption events. She focuses on pit bulls and pit bull mixes. Denise is looking for local fosters who can help take in dogs in need, and people to help her network dogs that need permanent homes.


6. The Gentle Barn

The Gentle Barn 

The Gentle Barn rescues, rehabilitates and gives sanctuary to severely abused animals of all kinds — sheep, pigs, cows, goats, chickens, turkeys, you name it! But they take it one step further. The barn, which is home to approximately 170 animals, hosts abused children, kids recovering from substance abuse, kids on probation, foster kids and children and adults with mental, emotional and physical challenges. By offering this interaction with the animals, the barn encourages forgiveness, courage, strength, leadership skills, trust, empathy and kindness. Its mission is simple, yet remarkable: to teach people kindness and compassion to animals, to one another and to the planet. Not even the Grinch could poo-poo that.


7. Urgent Death Row Dogs

Urgent Death Row Dogs 

This all-volunteer 501c3 corporation based out of New York was created to help advocate for dogs at the NYC ACC, the city's pound. What started as a desperate attempt to save some of the dogs and cats in the system has turned into an enormous community of caring people. They use this Facebook page to network animals on the dreaded euthanasia list in the hopes that rescues and potential adopters are able to pull the dogs and cats and offer them foster or forever homes. Along with saving countless adoptable animals from being needlessly destroyed each year, Urgent is also fighting to reform the NYC shelter system.


8. Shelter Exchange

Shelter Exchange 

Founded in 2010 by Claire and Brian Bokor, this nonprofit organization's mission is to reduce unnecessary animal euthanasia by creating a networked community of animal shelters, rescue facilities and adoption agencies by providing a no-cost shelter management application. It's a central hub of information that allows recues to work fast to try to help animals in need.


9. Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary

Jungle Friends/Florida 

Located in Gainesville, Fla., Jungle Friends provides permanent sanctuary care for more than 300 monkeys retired from research or rescued from a life of abuse or neglect. It discourages primates as pets and hopes the practice of stealing baby monkeys from their natural mothers will end. The sanctuary currently has a $50,000 match until December 31! Your gift goes directly to help the monkeys.


10. Posh Pets Rescue

Posh Pets/NY 

Relying solely on a network of foster homes, Posh Pets Rescue is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and responsible placement of homeless animals in and around New York City. The rescue receives no public funding and counts on the generosity of fellow animal lovers to help defray its costs, which include vet bills and other medical expenses for the many animals that are sick or in need of special care, as well as food, supplies and other items needed for the safety and comfort of its rescues. The organization also has a new Retirement Rescue, started to help provide loving homes and medical care for senior and special needs animals, as well as .


11. Rocky Ridge Refuge

Rocky Ridge 

Rocky Ridge Refuge is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that is home to special needs animals either because of medical reasons or abuse and neglect. The refuge takes in both domesticated and exotic animals. It's not too late to get a calendar for next year — all proceeds benefit the critters. Or you can make a donation, of course!


12. Dutch Country Animal Rescue (DCAR)


Dutch Country Animal Rescue was founded in December 2010, and takes in new dogs every week into its care. The 501(c)(3) approved nonprofit organization is located in Bucks County, Pa., and counts with a foster network in Pa., NJ, NY and Calif. The rescue's mission is to rescue abused or abandoned animals that would otherwise not have a chance. Most of its rescues come from puppy mills and high-kill shelters around the country. If you cannot adopt or foster, you can sponsor a dog, make a one-time donation or contact the rescue to make arrangements to donate supplies.


13. Rancho de Chihuahua

Rancho de Chihuahua 

Rancho de Chihuahua (RDC) is a 5013C nonprofit dog sanctuary in the mountains of northern New Mexico. It was co-founded by Steven Kotler and Joy Nicholson, two authors and animal geeks who have combined their passions into one large dog sanctuary. Although the sanctuary takes in dogs that will be lifers there because of serious physical and/or psychological conditions, about one-third of the dogs are non-special needs Chihuahuas, ready for adoption to loving homes. Meet one today!


14. Amsterdog


Pictured here from left to right are Zeus (German Shepherd), Anderson (Brindle-Pit mix), Gray (senior Poodle), Mary J (senior female Pit mix) and Charlie (Rottie-Pit mix). You can learn more about them by going to "Photos" and then "Albums." Amsterdog is a New York-based non-profit group of volunteers and has a tax ID# for tax-deductible donations. It is dedicated to helping abandoned animals find loving, responsible homes and focuses especially on abused animals who end up in the New York City shelter system.


15. Critter Camp Exotic Pet Sanctuary 

Critter Camp Exotic Pet Sanctuary 

Located German Valley, Ill., and founded in 2004, Critter Camp provides a safe, healthy, happy forever home to more than 300 unwanted exotic and unusual pets of 36 different species. It is the only licensed, registered 501c3 nonprofit, 100% no-kill, all-volunteer exotic pet sanctuary of its kind in the U.S. The sanctuary relies on donations — both cash and supplies — and is currently working hard to raise money to pay off veterinary bills and to continue getting the food and supplies it needs to take care of the abandoned, abused or neglected animals it takes in. Check out the critters' fun photos on Facebook.


16. Project Precious Rescue

Project Precious Rescue 

Founded in 2006 in Stamford, Conn., Project Precious Rescue rescues dogs and cats of all ages. It does not discriminate against breeds. It is a small-scale rescue with ever changing adoptable pets so if you live in the area and are looking for a companion animal, check them out! The rescue relies solely on its own funds and donations.


17. Dallas Animal Services and Adoption Center

Dallas Animal Services and Adoption Center 

Dallas Animal Services and Adoption Center encourages responsible pet ownership through adoption, spay/neuter, public education and outreach and ordinance enforcement. If you live in the area and are interested in getting a companion animal, please check out the pooches who are waiting for their forever homes!


18. Emerald City Pet Rescue

Emerald City Pet Rescue 

Emerald City Pet Rescue is a 501c3 nonprofit animal rescue based out of Seattle, Wash., with locations in Encinitas, Calif., and Hudson, Wis. It was founded in 2011 for the purpose of rescuing animals from high kill shelters across the U.S. and placing them in loving forever homes. The organization also rescues cats and horses.


19. Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary

Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary 

Founded in 2004 and located in High Falls, NY, Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary provides shelter to cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, sheep and goats that have been rescued from cases of abuse, neglect and abandonment. It offers educational tours and retreats and hosts weddings.


20. Austin Pets Alive

Austin Pets Alive 

Austin Pets Alive! (APA!) is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization run almost exclusively by dedicated volunteers. It is implementing innovative and progressive programs in Austin and Central Texas after studying the best practices of other cities that are no-kill or are in the process of becoming no-kill. The rescue is currently focused on helping healthy and treatable pets that are at risk of being killed in a shelter, so it only pulls high-risk pets and try to help owners who are facing problems so great they need to surrender their pets to a shelter.


21. Bat World Sanctuary 

Bat World Sanctuary

Founded in 1994, Bat World Sanctuary is a 501c3 nonprofit, all volunteer organization with 20 rescue centers nationwide. It's mission is to provide rescue, rehabilitation and release for injured bats; to provide permanent sanctuary for non-releasable bats; to ensure the protection and conservation of wild bat colonies; to promote humane treatment of bats in research facilities and zoos; and to educate the public about the importance of bats. It stands on front line to end the abuse and destruction of bats. Each year, the organization rescues hundreds of bats that might otherwise die. Lifetime sanctuary is given to non-releasable bats, including those that are orphaned, injured, confiscated from the illegal pet trade and retired from zoos and research facilities. Donations allow the sanctuary to continue its rescue efforts for bats. 


This is just a small sampling of countless organizations large and small out there. And remember, if you don't have cash to spare, there are ways to help that won't cost you a dime.

You can:

  • Foster
  • Help network information about adoptable animals on Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels
  • Donate your time and go help walk some dogs or clean some kennels
  • Use special links when shopping online, such as iGive
  • Download and use apps that donate money to your favorite organizations for every step you take
  • Or call your local organization to see if they need any blankets and towels (de-clutter your linen closet for a great cause!).

Happy Holidays!