Who are Shelter and Rescue Partners?

Our Shelter and Rescue Partner program is a network of organizations committed to serving as a safety net for pets and mentors for overwhelmed shelters. In collaboration with the Humane Society of the United States, program partners drive advancements in the animal welfare field. Our partners include animal shelters, rescue groups and other humane organizations that choose to join and contribute to building a more humane society for pets and their families.

Partners must qualify as one of the following:

  • A registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit humane organization.
  • An organization affiliated with a national or regional breed rescue association.
  • A public animal care and control agency.

What do Shelter and Rescue Partners do?

While animal placement is an important component of the Shelter and Rescue Partner program, it isn’t the only way for organizations to participate. We strongly believe in building sustainable programs and policies that decrease human and animal suffering over time by keeping families together whenever possible and providing a safety net for those who are separated. Partners may collaborate with HSUS state directors and campaigns to advance local, state and federal policies and may assist other organizations that require additional support. While pet transport can save the lives of adoptable animals who might otherwise have to be euthanized due to lack of local resources, it is only a short-term solution. Our long-term approach seeks to build local capacity through effective policies and programs that will, over time, reduce the number of animals flowing into shelters and rescues and keep more pets in their homes. Learn more about our Shelter Mentorship program, available to shelters and rescues looking to address the most common issues impacting pets and their families.

We work with our Shelter and Rescue Partners nationwide to bring resources and expertise to organizations that are interested in learning new strategies by facilitating and supporting shelter-to-shelter relationships and sharing best practices and innovative program ideas. Mentor shelters may offer advice on topics such as standard operating procedures, animal flow, shelter medicine best practices, community engagement and outreach, humane management of community cats, building a more inclusive animal welfare movement, budgeting, advocating for pet-friendly housing, disaster preparedness and more—each mentorship relationship is customized to meet the needs of the mentee shelters.


HumanePro is our dynamic, comprehensive online resource for those in the trenches of animal care. Through news, trainings, how-to guides, job and grant directories and our annual Animal Care Expo, we help animal shelters, rescue groups and other animal welfare professionals support pet owners in their communities and save more animals.

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What kinds of situations do the animals come from?

Shelter and Rescue Partners take in animals from situations in which the HSUS has responded, including:

  • Disasters
  • Puppy mills
  • Cockfighting and dogfighting operations
  • Hoarding and neglect situations
  • International dog meat farms
  • Overwhelmed animal shelters

While some animals are well-socialized family pets, others may have experienced trauma and need rehabilitation and extensive care before being rehomed. Our experts in medical and behavioral care will work with partners to ensure the needs of each animal are matched to the resources and expertise of the partner.

What are the benefits of becoming a Shelter and Rescue Partner?

For people in the animal rescue field, supporting owners so they can keep their pets and, in cases where that is not possible, helping animals find loving homes is an incomparable joy that cultivates an enduring commitment to lifting up the human-animal bond and preventing animal cruelty. While the goodwill generated from within the community is one benefit, the goodwill generated among fellow rescue groups is another. Our partners collaborate on placement, policy and best practices throughout the country.

In addition, Shelter and Rescue Partners may be eligible to participate in our Chewy donation program, in which pet food is distributed to owned pets in your community. Chewy’s generous donation of millions of pounds of pet food, combined with the commitment of the HSUS to cover all shipping costs, provides your shelter with an opportunity to start or strengthen a pet food pantry for those in need. Other program and research opportunities may arise as the HSUS partners with social service agencies, pet supply companies and others in an effort to support pet parents and strengthen the animal welfare field.

How can my organization become a Shelter and Rescue Partner?

We invite all eligible organizations to apply to join the network. After we review your application, a member of our Shelter Outreach and Engagement team will contact you in two to four weeks to learn more about your organization’s work and how we can best partner together.

Once you're accepted as a Shelter and Rescue Partner, you're entered into our national database and we may call on you for help as the need arises. We'll work closely with you to ensure an optimal experience for both your organization and the animals you take in.