Where there are animals needing homes, there are those that dedicate their lives to help them. Whether that be fostering, caring for, or educating the public on our four-legged best friends, here are ten hard-working rescue organizations in Southern California that deserve some praise for their tremendous efforts!
K9 Spirit Organization
I first discovered K9 Spirit Organization (K9SO) while photographing a local Disc Dogs trial, the action-packed competition of frisbee-catching dogs! One of the human competitors I witnessed that day quickly went on to become an international superstar in the sport, garnering a multitude of champion awards. That competitor is Kirby McIlveen, and her mother Stacy is the founder of K9 Spirit Organization. Inspired by their rescue pup, Spirit—a scared, 10-lb mixed breed with a broken elbow that came into their lives—K9 Spirit Organization was founded, born out of love for our canine buddies that desperately need help.
K9 Spirit organization focuses their efforts on dogs that are high on the euthanasia list, taking in the distressed, traumatized, and medically ailing pups. The organization primarily rescues small dogs, for which its foster base is best suited, but it has rescued a number of herding breeds, as many of their personal dogs are of the herding group. Their adoptions center on finding the most suitable home where each pup will thrive, while simultaneously working on fixing or managing current behaviors that may have arisen from the dog’s tumultuous past. In addition, K9SO works to help individual pet owners keep their dogs at home when they’re struggling financially and the dog needs veterinary care. K9SO has assisted with pet deposits, rehoming, and other such aid.
K9 Spirit Organization is entirely volunteer based—no one who serves is paid. K9 Spirit Organization is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and all donations it receives go directly to the medical and ongoing care of their dogs. If you’re looking to add a small pup to your family, start your search by visiting k9spirit.org.
Best Friends Animal Society
Best Friends Animal Society has been making a splash in the local, national, and celebrity scene—it may be the most recognizable organization on our list. Best Friends has worked tirelessly to save thousands of animals through its nationwide outreach with shelters, rescue groups, and members, all promoting pet adoption, nokill animal rescue, and spay-and-neuter practices. As a result, Best Friends Animal Society is now the nation’s largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals.
Best Friends has a Los Angeles branch located in Mission Hills, in Santa Barbara County. This branch is where I adopted my own furry best friend two years ago. The center is open daily from noon to 8 p.m., and the staff is extremely friendly. The Los Angeles division of Best Friends is working collaboratively with animal rescue groups, city shelters and passionate individuals who are all dedicated to the mission of making Los Angeles a no-kill city. As part of this mission, Best Friends leads the NKLA (No-Kill Los Angeles) initiative and also operates the NKLA Pet Adoption Center off the 405 freeway near Santa Monica Boulevard. Best Friends also hosts a slew of fun events all year long to promote adoption and healthy pet ownership.
Not ready to adopt? No problem! Best Friends is always looking for volunteers and interns to help out. Learn more at la.bestfriends.org.
Animals Rule Rescue
If the name itself doesn’t tell you how this rescue feels about animals, their mission statement will! The official website reads: “Our primary goal is to remove dogs in danger of being euthanized from shelter environments and foster them until permanent homes are found through our adoption program. We believe in spay and neuter of all animals, regardless of breed, in order to aid in the prevention of pet overpopulation. We provide our dogs with shelter, proper veterinary care and any necessary rehabilitation. We rescue all breeds of dogs and they come to us from a variety of different sources. Most of our dogs are rescued from our city and county shelters, others are strays, neglected, or abandoned due to their owners various financial situations.”
Recommended to me by a number of associates in the pet world, Animals Rule Placement Foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit animal welfare organization with some major accomplishments this past year. In 2018, the organization rescued and adopted out 78 dogs, 4 cats, 3 rabbits and 2 guinea pigs. All the animals received medical attention and were spayed/neutered, fully vaccinated, and microchipped. Animals Rule saved a total of 13 dogs on their last day before scheduled euthanasia from various city and county shelters and took in 34 owner-surrendered dogs, preventing them from entering the shelter system. The organization also proudly placed several special-needs pups into new homes, such as one profoundly deaf dog and several recovered puppies infected with canine parvo.
For a small, exclusively volunteer-run rescue, these are big numbers. All the volunteers have their own jobs, families, and mortgages to pay—yet they dedicate their time and resources to helping the animals they take in. Visit them at animalsrule.org.
Wallis Annenberg PetSpace
The purpose for the existence of the Wallis Annenberg PetSpace can be summarized in one short phrase: “To promote and strengthen the human-animal bond.” This individualized and unique organization aims to build a strong community around pet ownership, educating the public on their animal companions. The organization’s location fosters a creative space for animal adoptions, education, and a leadership institute. Definitely the only place of its kind in California, Annenberg PetSpace focuses on the symbiotic relationships between humans and the creatures we call our family. To make it even more interesting, Annenberg PetSpace even goes as far as to research the history of the human-pet relationship.
Having long been a supporter of animals, Annenberg PetSpace partners with the California Science Center, Pediatric Therapy Network, County of Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control, State Humane Association of California, California Animal Rehabilitation (CARE), and many more like-minded organizations. Each of these partners brings something significant to the organization, from helping place trained pups into special-needs homes to traveling pet exhibitions that educate the public on our furry comrades.
Annenberg PetSpace has many fun volunteer opportunities for those local to the facility, such as helping animals and speaking to guests. If you have a child that is interested in pets, Annenberg PetSpace will even host your birthday party! And, of course, for those looking to adopt, plenty of furry friends are waiting here for their forever homes. Wallis Annenberg PetSpace is open 11am to 5pm, Wednesday through Sunday. annenbergpetspace.org
Pasadena Humane Society
One of the most compassionate organizations out there, the famous Pasadena Humane Society, provides a multitude of useful and necessary services to the Greater Los Angeles area. Founded in 1903 by a local Methodist group, the organization was originally established to ensure the humane treatment of working livestock, as well as rescuing and rehoming orphaned and abused children. Companion animals gradually replaced working animals as the organization’s main focus. Today, the Pasadena Humane Society has adapted its services to meet the needs of the community. The current shelter features dog kennels in a park-like setting, a spay/neuter clinic, and a dedicated space for humane outreach activities.
Probably one of the most admired characteristics of the Pasadena Humane Society is its open admission policy. This means that the organization accepts animals from all of its service areas, regardless of age, medical condition, breed, or any other criteria.
The Pasadena Humane Society works with the community to find other options and keep animals out of the shelter. The Pasadena Humane Society offers spaying and neutering, vaccinations, endof- life services, boarding, training classes, nail trimming, a pet food bank, behavior advice, and so much more, at low, affordable prices. Its dedication to helping pet owners in need keep their family members is a testament to the organization’s passion for the local community. The Society hosts many fun events in Los Angeles County— check out the Events page at pasadenahumane. org.
Judith A Bassett Canid Education & Conservation Center
Southern California’s Judith A Bassett Canid Education & Conservation Center is definitely the most unique organization on our list. The JAB Canid Education and Conservation Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to education and conservation of canids, which are all animals of the dog family, both domestic and wild. They are the only nonprofit center in the world to house domesticated Belyayev foxes. Yes, you read that right—foxes! The foxes are joined by other primitive dogs, such as the New Guinea Singing Dog, and researchers say these two breeds are key to discovering how our beloved pups have become domesticated. This same research is also offering new insights into human social disorders.
The JAB Canid Education and Conservation Center has three key functions: animal-assisted therapy programs, interactive education events with the ambassador animals, and unique solutions to aid in the conservation and promotion of the general welfare of all canids. “By utilizing the latest research from academia combined with novel approaches found in the business world, we hope to change many of the paradigms that currently do not fully address many of the problems faced by canids,” the Center says on its website. The therapy programs involve different types of canids interacting with individuals who have conditions for which healing with animals has been shown to improve a disease state or condition. Many of these animals are rescued from shelters, which gives them an opportunity to help themselves by helping people. The education events with the ambassador foxes and singing dogs allow the public to have interactions with some very unique canids and obtain a better understanding of them, according to the Center. “Through understanding comes appreciation and through appreciation comes conservation.”
The JAB Canid Education and Conservation Center in San Ysabel, California, is available for private encounters and photo shoots with its ambassador animals. Get more information at jabcecc.org.
Westside German Shepherd Rescue of Los Angeles
German shepherd fanciers rejoice—So- Cal has a spectacular rescue just for you! I learned of the Westside German Shepherd Rescue recently from a dog sport competitor, whose own pups came from Westside. The Westside German Shepherd Rescue of Los Angeles is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, no-kill rescue committed to saving all types of German shepherd dogs from high-kill shelters and adopting them out to loving, qualified homes.
With professional trainers and shepherd experts on the premises, these puppies and dogs available for adoption have what it takes to make exceptional companions. The Rescue currently has about 100 dogs available, and with a simple applications to help staff lead potential adopters to the dog that will be right for their home and lifestyle. Much like the other organizations on our list, Westside German Shepherd Rescue provides a variety of useful services for adopters, including lifetime support, training, and consulting.
Unable to bring a shepherd to your home now but still want to help? Westside German Shepherd Rescue has a wishlist available online that you can consult to donate needed items, as well as a very cute product store that you don’t want to miss! Visit Westside German Shepherd Rescue at sheprescue.org.
One of my favorite rescues in Southern California is Luxe Paws, a volunteer street rescue effort, focused on TNR (trap/neuter/ return) spay/neuter and rescue for the most at-risk animals in the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Los Feliz/Silver Lake/ Echo Park and and parts of Highland Park, Glassell Park, Eagle Rock, East Hollywood and the northern portions of downtown LA.
“If you stop to consider that California taxpayers spend more than $250 million annually to house and euthanize animals in our shelters, you’ll see why we believe the most compassionate, humane way to tackle this crisis is by reducing the number of unwanted animals through spay/neuter. Every spay means at least 12 kittens saved, and each little soul our TNR team rescues equals 1 less homeless cat on the street, or ever entering the doors of an overcrowded shelter,” Luxe Paws writes on its homepage.
Luxe Paws consists of part-time volunteers who go out into the field and save lives by spaying and neutering local strays. Through trapping, neutering, and releasing, the Rescue has reached and spayed/ neutured close to 5,000 homeless cats.
Luxe Paws is determined to help solve the problem at its root. It doesn’t have a shelter facility—it relies on neighborhood fosters to care for the kitties they rescue while they’re on the street doing TNR. The rescue doesn’t rehome cats, relocate cats or use foster homes to board cats.
Luxe Paws is always looking for volunteers to help trap, neuter and release stray cats as well as provide foster homes for the cats picked up from these situations. You can find out more at savekittensla.org.
Downtown Dog Rescue
Downtown Dog Rescue is an allvolunteer- run 501(c)(3) nonprofit that believes in second chances for both dogs and people. The organization rescues dogs and provides services for lowincome pet owners in underserved communities around Los Angeles County. The organization was founded by Lori Weise, who witnessed the predicament of countless homeless people and their dogs near Los Angeles’s Skid Row. Lori’s compassion led her to establish Downtown Dog Rescue, which began by trapping strays and developing respectful relationships with the local homeless community.
According to the website, since its inception, “Downtown Dog Rescue has paid for thousands of spay/neuter surgeries, has placed or fostered thousands of dogs, and has provided meals for many animals and the people who love them, whether they be homeless or just need a helping hand. After many years of working on Skid Row, Downtown Dog Rescue expanded to offer services in Compton.”
Downtown Dog Rescue provides service for free or at a very low cost to those who need it most. This even extends to free dog training classes—weekly obedience classes are held at the Los Angeles Coliseum, teaching owners basic commands, agility, urban walking, and how to handle a dog attack. The class draws from 30 to 50 dogs and their owners each week. For more information on how you can get involved at Downtown Dog Rescue, visit downtowndogrescue.org.
Take Me Home Rescue
Take Me Home Rescue has some of the coolest and most ingenious branding I’ve ever seen from a rescue organization. With its very rock and roll vibe, Take Me Home Rescue goes on tour with rock festivals to assist with spay and neuter and adoption outreach. Teaming up with the music industry has enabled this incredible organization to achieve a global reach with their Let’s Fix It and Medical Miracles programs. Their rock festival relationships have helped fund spay and neuter/ medical programs in Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, Florida and California. As a professional music photographer when not writing for Pet Companion Magazine, I have personally witnessed Take Me Home Rescue at a multitude of music events, attracting a large crowd of animal lovers. This organization really does “Rock Out for Rescue” and puts all their efforts into helping as many animals in need as they possibly can. With assistance from rock bands and celebrities alike, the word has been spread far and wide.
Tap into your inner rock star and help save pups in need at takemehome.tv.