Who are Shelter and Rescue Partners?

Three peopl helping a dog from a transport plane
Kevin Wolf
AP Images for The HSUS

The Shelter and Rescue Partner program is a network of organizations committed to serving as a safety net for pets, partnering with overwhelmed shelters and collaborating to drive advancements in the animal welfare field. Our partners include animal shelters, rescue groups and other humane organizations who 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?

Shelter and Rescue Partners are perhaps the most crucial element in our mission to support pet families and help animals in crisis. The Humane Society of the United States assists with moving animals out of the path of natural disasters and rescuing animals from cruelty. Prior to a natural disaster, our partners step up to move already homeless pets out of local shelters to make space for potentially displaced local pets with a goal of reunification after a disaster has passed. When law enforcement requests the assistance of the HSUS with an animal cruelty situation, we work with our partners to care for and place the animals. As local groups with access to local resources, partners provide the animals with veterinary care, behavioral rehabilitation and placement in loving homes.

While 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 that decrease animal suffering over time. Many partners also choose to participate by assisting 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 their facilities and keep more pets in their homes.

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 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, budgeting and more—each mentorship relationship is customized to meet the needs of the mentee shelter. 


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.

person with kitten on their lap holding a smartphone showing HumanePro website
vladans / istock.com

What kinds of situations do the animals come from?

Shelter and Rescue Partners take in animals from all kinds of situations across the country, including:

  • Natural 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.

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. And 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.

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.

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.