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Best and Worst Dog Charities in the USA

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Dogs Love Us More

Are you looking to make donations to a charity that serves dogs? You get to make a difference by helping the homeless, endangered and mistreated animals. Knowing the right charity to make your donation can be an arduous task as you’ll be considering some factors. Which dog charity is the best? What charity should I avoid? Guess these are some of your worries. It’s hard to know how much money goes into a nonprofit organization and how it is spent. 

You want to be sure that it is going towards something worthwhile and sustainable for animals when donating money or time. We’ve done all the research, so you don’t have to! Here are some great dog charities with high ratings online. In addition, 18 worst ones deserve less than 2 stars out of 4 for their low scores and negative reviews online from people like yourself. Read on to know the charities that are worth your donations.

30 Best Dog Charities in the USA

Are you a dog lover? Below are the 30 best dog charities rated by Charity Navigator, the most trusted non-profit evaluator. Charity Navigator rates charities and non-profit organizations based on their financial health, accountability, and transparency. Let’s check out the list of dog charities deserving of your donations.

1. Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation

The breeding and training organization aims at providing visually impaired men and women with German Shepherd guide dogs to foster independence, safety, and mobility for clients as they go about their daily activities. The internationally acclaimed foundation has trained over 1,450 German Shepherd dogs.

Fidelco is rated among the 10 accredited guide dog organizations in the United States. It’s also listed among the 80 guide dog organizations in the world. Being the first dog guide organization to start the In-Community Placement program in the country, Fidelco stands out among other guide dog schools. The program facilitates the training of dogs within the areas where their clients live and work. This makes for an effective relationship between clients and dogs. Fidelco is known as the only guide school in the world to solely train German Shepherd Dogs.

Rating: 3-star

Overall score: 81.43

2. Canine Companions for Independence

The leading dog industry improves the lives of veterans, people with disabilities, and children by providing them with service dogs to promote effective and quality partnerships. Canine Companions for Independence also extend their services to professionals working in the health, legal and educational sectors. Driven by passion and excellence, Canine Companions strive to be a global leader in the dog industry by 2025. The assistance dog company partners with pet brand, Eukanuba to provide quality nutrition to dogs so they can perform efficiently. There’s been reports concerning the performance of these assistance dogs. 98% of dog users reported dogs’ active participation in activities while 97% attested to an increased peace of mind after pairing with assistance dogs. This depicts the services of Canine Companions and the importance of assistance dogs. 

Rating: 4-star

Overall score: 90.44

3. Guide Dogs for the Blind

Serving both the United States and Canada, Guide Dogs for the Blind is a top guide dog school promoting great partnerships between people, dogs, and communities. They offer support and specialized training to puppy raisers, volunteers, and donors. Recently, Guide Dogs for the Blind collaborated with another leading dog guide school, The Seeing Eye to help airports and airlines assist visually impaired travellers on social distancing guidelines.

Rating: 4-star

Overall score: 90.31

4. Warrior Canine Connection

The pioneer and non-profit organization adopted a Mission Based Trauma Recovery (MBTR) process to enable veterans to recover from war-related issues while reconnecting with society. Warrior Canine Connection breeds and trains dogs as service, therapy, or mobility dogs to support the wounded warriors.

Rating: 4-star

Overall score: 97.87

5. National Disaster Search Dog Foundation

Concerned with disaster protection, this animal welfare service rescues and trains dogs, works with firefighters and first responders to provide relief and save victims trapped under disaster ruins. They believe once dogs have been rescued, there’s no need to save them again. National Disaster Search Dog Foundation also provides emergency medical services and transport.

With positive reviews from donors, volunteers and supporters, it’s not surprising that the disaster rescue group is listed as one of the best dog charities in the USA. Based on metrics such as purpose, programs, fundraising, tax status, finance, governance and staff, National Disaster Search Dog Foundation meets the standards for Charity Accountability provided by Better Business Bureau. It’s always a win for this foundation as they’ve recorded rescue of unrestrained shelter dogs. To portray the feats achieved by the group and the importance of funding it, Y&R New York launched a print series showcasing the heroic acts of the search dogs.

Rating: 4-star

Overall score:  93.14

6. Dogs for Better Lives

Formerly known as Dogs for the Deaf, Dogs for Better Lives is a not-for-profit organization providing relief services since its inception in 1977. The animal welfare group saves, trains, and places dogs with special needs people. Dogs for Better Lives breed various dogs such as Hearing Dogs, Autism Assistance Dogs, Program Assistance Dogs, and Career Change Dogs. They expanded their frontiers of charitable works by acquiring two properties for Assistance Dog training, puppy raising, and doggie daycare services. Dogs for Better Lives have proven themselves to be good financial stewards, accounting for every donor’s dollar. The funds raised are used for programmatic services. They care for the well-being of dogs, clients and donors, while ensuring the conscientious use of money donated. Due to their overall performance, fiscal responsibility and transparency,

Dogs for Better Lives has been top-rated for seven consecutive years. Popular for groundbreaking works, the dog service company launched a 102-panel solar with the aim of reducing carbon footprint and improving lives.

Rating: 4-star

Overall score: 98.12

7. Southeastern Guide Dogs

The dog service changes a life by fostering wonderful relationships and partnerships between individuals and dogs. In addition, they utilize sophisticated training facilities in training the dogs. Serving many areas in the US, Southeastern Guide Dogs conduct selective breeding, research canine health and development, and expert dog training. They ensure dogs are adequately fed with the best food, given monthly preventatives, vaccinations and veterinary care. Boasting innovative scientists and trainers, Southern Guide Dogs is fully accredited by The International Guide Dog Federation and Assistance Dogs International. Due to their high level of transparency, the service dog organization received the Platinum Seal of Transparency. For meeting the industry standards of program efficiency, public accountability, and cost effectiveness, Southern Guide Dogs was awarded Best in America Seal of Excellence and Top rated by America’s Best Charities and GreatNonprofits.

Rating: 4-star

Overall score: 96.89

8. Canine Assistants

Canine Assistants organize service dogs for individuals with mobility difficulties, epilepsy, Type 1 Diabetes, and other disabilities. Community service dogs are often placed in Children’s  Hospitals to offer therapy services to children and adults. They also conduct Disabilities Awareness Education Program and K-9 Kids Reading Program for school kids. Recently, their service dogs have been instrumental in curbing the spread of COVID-19.

Rating: 2-star

Overall score: 79.38

9. Paws With A Cause

Paws with a cause nurture puppies and trains Assistance Dogs to be a companion to people with disabilities. They advocate for the rights and roles of Assistant Dogs. While various therapies exist for autism, assistance dogs are quite effective in managing the developmental order.

Rating: 4-star

Overall score: 93.33

10. Freedom Service Dogs of America

This rescue group aims at helping veterans and warriors recover from war-related issues. In addition, Freedom Service Dogs of America was established to support custom-training dogs for people with special needs such as autism, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, and the likes. In 2015, Dog is Good for Patriots partnered with Freedom Service Dogs to lend a helping hand to veterans and promote social responsibility.

Rating: 4-star

Overall score: 93.00

11. Puppies Behind Bars

Puppies Behind Bars collaborate with prison inmates in training service dogs for first responders, war-torn veterans, and law enforcement. These canines help the security operatives to detect explosives. The puppies begin living with their inmate raisers from 8 weeks old to 24 months. For over 20 years, Puppies Behind Bars has made incredible feats like raising 1000 puppies and pairing 110 service dogs with first responders and veterans. For their good governance and fiscal responsibility, Puppies Behind Bars has earned fourteen consecutive 4-star ratings from Charity Navigator. Their puppies provided relief to New York National Guard soldiers, airmen and civilian medical providers who were tirelessly fighting COVID-19 in New York.

Rating: 4-star

Overall score: 100

12. American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation

This foundation seeks to promote the healthy living of dogs and pet owners by sponsoring scientific research and educating people on the prevention and treatment of canine disease. They’re concerned with the physical, mental, and social well-being of all dogs. Their long-standing reputation has made them form alliances with AKC Reunite, Canine Health Information Center (CHIC), National Animal Interest Alliance (NAIA), Pet Partners and VetVine. With over $59 million raised till date, the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation continues to provide highest quality canine health research.

Rating: 4-star

Overall score: 97.84

13. 4 Paws for Ability

The pet-friendly organization improves the lives of individuals with disabilities by placing service dogs that will serve them. As good stewards of donations, 4 Paws for Ability acts in the best interest of clients and team members. For the purpose of transparency and accountability, they operate the whistleblower policy, conflict of interest policy, donor privacy policy and diversity and inclusion policy

Rating: 4-star

Overall score: 94.67

14. Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind

Specialized in dog placements, Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind trains service dogs to be independent, promote mobility, and serve as a companion to the visually impaired, deaf, or special needs people. They also organize outreach programs to disseminate knowledge of visual impairment and disability rights. In February 2021, the foundation celebrated their 75 years of existence. The Guide Dog Foundation reached this milestone due to their dedication, hardwork and culture of service. In commemoration of their anniversary, they collaborated with Nylabone and KONG who donated dog toys and bones to dogs. Based on various factors like non-cash donations, high asset reserve and the likes, they’re rated Grade A on Charity Watch.

Rating: 4-star

Overall score: 90.49

15. Canine Partners For Life

From training seizure alert dogs to diabetes alert dogs, companion dogs, and mobility assistance dogs, Canine Partners For Life strives to enhance the quality of people with disabilities. They raised dogs to meet the tailored needs of individuals. Despite the controversies and the lawsuit filed against them, Canine Partner For Life has always shown that they care about the well-being of dogs.

Rating: 4-star

Overall score: 87.90

16. The Seeing Eye

Partnering with 17,000 guide dog teams all over North America, The Seeing Eye has succeeded in putting smiles on the faces of many blind people by providing them with Seeing Eye dogs. The organization is an accredited member of the International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF). Two of their staff members are assessors at IGDF. Their health center, The Seeing Eye Vincent A. Stabile Canine Health Center is also accredited by American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).

Rating: 3-star

Overall score: 85.56

17. Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities (ECAD)

Founded by Lu and Dale Picard, ECAD offers life-changing services to physically disabled individuals. The non-profit organization was birthed from family issues that the founders were encountering at a specific time. Lu’s dad had a stroke, and she had to train their family pet to help with mobility and companionship. As a result, ECAD dogs are trained to respond to 80 commands. ECAD pride themselves in financial prudence as every dollar is well accounted and spent responsibly.

Rating: 4-star

Overall score: 90.57

18. Can Do Canines

This animal welfare service envisages a future where everyone can have access to an assistance dog. Can Do Canines initiate co-partnerships between trained guide dogs and the physically impaired. In addition, they form an alliance with rescue groups and local shelters to recruit dogs fit for assistance work.

Rating: 4-star

Overall score: 90.57

19. Guide Dogs of America

As a tender-loving canine group, Guide Dogs of America prioritize their service dogs’ comfort, safety, and health. They ensure the dogs are in perfect condition before placing them in homes.

Rating: 4-star

Overall score: 97.28

20. Los Angeles County Animal Care Foundation

A subsidiary of the County of Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control, the Los Angeles County Animal Care Foundation specializes in pet adoptions, animal welfare, and public education. They also solicit funds for spay and neuter programs.

Rating: 3-star

Overall score: 86.56

21. PetSmart Charities

The pioneer animal welfare group has donated over $451 million to life-changing organizations involved in pet adoption services. They work with about 4,000 non-profit organizations focused on promoting pet lives. PetSmart Charities also raise awareness concerning animal welfare issues.

Rating: 4-star

Overall score: 92.92

22. Guide Dogs of the Desert

Created to facilitate mobility and companionship, Guide Dogs of the Desert offers placement services to the visually impaired and people with multiple disabilities. The charity group instructs individuals on how to work with these dogs at no cost. Guide Dogs of the Desert boast excellent dog service which has made a couple, the Carey’s raise 20 puppies with the group.

Rating: 3-star

Overall score: 86.55

23. NEADS Inc.

Formerly known as National Education for Assistance Dog Services and Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans, NEADS improves the social needs of children with autism and developmental disabilities. Their dog training process encompasses purpose breeding and healthcare, client and dog matching, client/dog team training, and support for dogs’ lives.

Rating: 4-star

Overall score: 98.18

24. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)

The long-standing organization is dedicated to providing loving homes for pets, animal-assisted therapy, legislative services, and shelter outreach. ASPCA have rescued dogs from puppy mills, fighting rings and abusive circumstances. Some of their notable works include how they saved 23 pitbulls from a dog fighting organization and 50 dogs from a puppy mill.

Rating: 3-star

Overall score: 83.36

25. D.E.L.T.A. Rescue (Dedication and Everlasting Love to Animals)

D.E.L.T.A. Rescue addresses the plights of abandoned cats and dogs in the community. The organization, which started with 60 rescued feral cats, has become an abode for over 1500 animals, including 800 dogs.

Rating: 3-star

Overall score: 80.96

26. Animal Friends

Existing for over 75 years, Animal Friends has been nurturing and enriching animal-human relationships in and around Pittsburgh. The animal resource center strives to reduce the population of unwanted animals through spaying and neutering though upholding the no-kill tradition.

Rating: 4-star

Overall score: 91.42

27. Save-A-Pet, Inc.

The no-kill shelter is a sanctuary for mistreated, abandoned, wounded, and lost animals that aren’t euthanized. Like their name, Save-A-Pet, Inc., they’re true to their words as they offer dogs and cats a second chance at life.

Rating: 4-star

Overall score: 90.46

28. Animal Haven

Animal Haven shelters abandoned cats and dogs while reforming their behavior to promote adoption possibilities. The New-York based organization has an adoption center in Manhattan and organizes programs to foster the relationship between animals and humans. Animal Haven has a 4-star rating which depicts that the organization meets industry standards.

Rating: 4-star

Overall score: 97.17

29. Friends For Life Animal Shelter

This animal shelter works to make a difference in the lives of animals by ensuring they have a safe home and good health. Their three-model programs center on rescue, rehabilitation, and adoption, reducing animal births, and instructing pet owners on caring for their pets.

Rating: 3-star

Overall score: 89.05

30. RedRover

RedRover seeks to help animals in crisis through programs such as RedRover Relief, RedRover Responders, and RedRover Readers. In addition, the non-profit organization provides homes for animals displaced by natural disasters, helps improve animal-human bonds, and guides pet owners on pet care. RedRover partnered with Purina to support domestic violence survivors with pets during the COVID-19 pandemic. They’ve continued to stay committed to the course.

Rating: 3-star

Overall score: 89.93

18 Worst Dog Charities in the USA

Although many charities are flourishing, some aren’t credible as they’ve been entangled in misappropriation of funds and shady deals. Our list of worst dog charities isn’t to tarnish their reputation but for you to be cautious and know where you’re putting in your money. The list was curated based on our findings from Charity Navigator. Unfortunately, due to failure to meet industry standards and performing below expectations, Charity Navigator did not rate many of these dog charities. So, in no particular order, here are the worst dog charities in the USA.

1. Eye Dog Foundation

Established with the intent of providing relief, enhancing safety and independence, Eye Dog Foundation offers German Shepherd Dogs at no cost to the visually impaired. Unfortunately, due to some arising issues, the foundation isn’t rated.

Rating: None

Overall Score: 43

2. Big Dog Ranch Rescue

The rescue group believes every dog deserves to live a happy and healthy life hence their mission. Big Dog Ranch Rescue cares for neglected and abandoned dogs while looking for loving families that will take them in. Recently, the foundation has been embroiled in money laundering, affecting its ratings on Charitynavigator.

Rating: None

Overall Score: 80

3. Greyhound Friends Inc.

The Greyhound adoption shelter is internationally acclaimed for providing a conducive environment or home for greyhounds and other dogs. They also enlighten the public on the greyhound breed and animal welfare. This charity wasn’t rated due to allegations of illegal activity, improper conduct, and organizational mismanagement.

Rating: None

Overall Score: 95

4. Dogs Without Borders

Focused on rescuing stray and abandoned dogs while providing a safe haven for them, Dogs Without Borders has successfully provided shelter for more than 4000 dogs. They also offer tips regarding dog care to clients to improve dogs’ lives and happiness.

Rating: None

Overall Score: 65

5. Fences For Fido

The animal protection and welfare organization creates a conducive environment for chained dogs to thrive by providing shelter, veterinary care, neutering, and spay services. In addition, they strive to serve their past and future clients by adopting safety measures by implementing safety measures like setting up temporary panel fences when necessary.

Rating: None

Overall Score: 68

6. Dog Star Rescue

The rescue group strives to save abandoned and lost dogs of various breeds by providing them with loving and good homes. They look for suitable adopters for the dogs, offer veterinary care and reduce dog overpopulation through spaying and neutering.

Rating: None

Overall Score: 80

7. Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs

From rescuing, raising, and training assistance dogs to pairing trained dogs with veterans and physically disabled people, Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs has proven that they’re committed to improving lives and sustaining relationships.

Rating: None

Overall Score: 93

8. Wags and Walks

The dog rescue community collaborates with dedicated volunteers, veterinarians, foster homes, and trainers in rehabilitating dogs who have been abused. Wags and Walks advocates for stray dogs while providing a safe and conducive place for them to survive.

Rating: None

Overall Score: 80

9. KSDS Assistance Dogs, Inc.

Intending to change lives one dog at a time, KSDS Assistance Dogs, Inc. is a fully accredited organization that supports the visually impaired, people living with disabilities, and experts in the counseling and education field.

Rating: None

Overall Score: 100

10. Golden Paws Assistance Dogs Inc.

The public charity trains two types of assistance dogs: service dogs to help disabled people with tasks and support dogs to offer companionship and psychological and physical comfort to special needs individuals. Golden Paws Assistance Dogs believe in giving back to the community; hence they serve the needs of many in the community.

Rating: None

Overall Score: 88

11. Dog Orphans, Inc.

As an animal lover community, Dog Orphans, Inc is committed to safeguarding dogs against unfavorable conditions until they’re provided with a permanent home. The non-profit organization educates individuals on dog ownership, spaying, and neutering. They have playing facilities such as an indoor playroom, dog-friendly office, and enclosed playground.

Rating: None

Overall Score: 91

12. Double Dog Rescue

In a bid to control the overpopulation of dogs, Double Dog Rescue was established to save unwanted dogs of various breeds and ages. They ensure these furry animals are safe and shielded from all harm. While Double Dog Rescue doesn’t possess a physical shelter, they ensure dogs get a suitable shelter or home.

Rating: None

Overall Score; 100

13. Forgotten Dog Foundation

This foundation derives joy in providing a new home for stray, abandoned, and forgotten dogs. Aimed at stopping the cruelty of animals, the Forgotten Dog Foundation rescues, rehabilitates, and shelters dogs.

Rating: None

Overall Score: 80

14. Shaggy Dog Rescue

The rescue group strives to improve the overall well-being of the animal and offers pet adoption services. The dogs are neutered or spayed to boost their health.

Rating: None

Overall Score: 71

15. Paws for Purple Hearts

Partnering with Bergin College of Canine Studies, Paws for Purple Hearts contributes immensely to the lives of America’s veterans experiencing trauma-related conditions. They provide the best performing assistance dogs, canine-assisted therapeutic programs and create public awareness concerning dogs’ roles in promoting recovery.

Rating: None

Overall Score: 91

16. Italian Greyhound Rescue Foundation Inc.

The animal service foundation strives to control the pet population by taking a dog off the street through adoption. Italian Greyhound Rescue Foundation educates pet owners on vaccination, spaying, neutering, parasite prevention, among others.

Rating: None

Overall Score: 91

17. Dogs on Death Row

Driven by a deep passion for dogs, Dogs on Death Row was launched to save, rehabilitate and shelter unwanted dogs. They are committed to educating the public about dog care and stopping the inhumane treatment of these canines. Dogs on Death Row solicit for sponsorships to spay and neuter dogs, so they aren’t euthanized. In addition, they provide foster care and adoption services for dogs.

Rating: None

Overall Score: 100

18. Big Dog Rescue Project

As a small, close-knit organization, Big Dog Rescue Project focuses on rescuing large breed types while providing homes for them in the Pacific Northwest and Northeast, where there is less population and more qualified adopters.

Rating: None

Overall Score: None


Disclaimer: This article is not sponsored by any of the charities mentioned. The author has no vested interest in which charity you donate to but does hope that this information helps you make an educated decision on where your donation will be most impactful.

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