The 9 Best Dog Rescues in Toronto [2022]

Best Dog Rescues in Toronto

So you want to adopt or rescue a dog? Congratulations! Adopting or rescuing a dog is a big deal. Helping out a furry friend is not only fun, but it’s also very rewarding. That said, before you make the big commitment to adopt or rescue a dog, it’s important you do so responsibly and informed.

Is there a certain breed you’re interested in? Some of these dog shelters are breed-specific, helping you narrow your search. You can use this list of the best places to adopt or rescue dogs in Toronto to guide you to your new furry companion.

Once you find the dog perfect for you, consider looking at  best Toronto dog parks or the best dog daycares in the city.


Things to Consider Before Adopting or Rescuing a Dog

Adopting or rescuing a dog is a big decision. It’s important to take the time to consider if you’re ready for the responsibility before you make any commitments. Here are some things you should think about before adopting or rescuing a dog:

Do you have enough time? 

Dogs require a lot of time and attention. They need to be walked, played with, and taken out regularly. If you’re not home often or you travel frequently, it might not be the best idea to adopt or rescue a dog at this time.

Do you have enough space? 

Dogs need room to move around freely. If you live in a small apartment or house, make sure you have enough space for a dog.

Do you have the patience? 

Dogs can be frustrating at times. They might bark excessively, chew on your things, or have accidents inside. If you’re not patient enough to deal with these things, it might not be the right time to adopt or rescue a dog.

Are you prepared to commit? 

Dogs typically have a lifespan of 10-12 years. Are you prepared to take care of a dog for that long? Adopting or rescuing a dog is a big commitment and should not be taken lightly.

These are just some things to consider before adopting or rescuing a dog. If you’re ready to take on the responsibility, then read on for the best places to adopt or rescue dogs in Toronto.

The Best Places to Adopt a Dog in Toronto

Now that you’ve considered all of these things, you’re one step closer to adopting or rescuing a dog. The next step is to find the perfect place to do so.

Here are the 9 best places to adopt or rescue dogs in Toronto:

1. Pugalug Rescue

Pugalug Pug Rescue is a Toronto-based rescue organization that acts as a bridge between a pug’s former life and its future home. They are a group of volunteers dedicated to aiding rescued pugs by providing medical care, loving care, affection, comfort, food and shelter.

Instead of a traditional animal shelter, they’re a one-in-a-kind concept, as they require you to pass an additional application process, undergo a background check, verify all of your references, and adhere to a very rigid criterion that gives you a good shot at receiving approval for adopting a pug.

They do this as they wish the adopted dog to be in the best possible condition after a tough life. If you wish to find out more about them and their organization, then visit their website as you will find various interesting and valuable information about many things.

If you are interested in adopting a pug, then Pugalug is your stop, but if you are going to adopt a dog with them, make sure you are appropriately prepared to take care of your new furry companion.

Business Information:
Station K, Pugalug Pug Rescue, Toronto, ON M4P 3J7, Canada

Customer Review Highlight:

“I recently adopted a pug from this wonderful rescue. The foster mom and the rescue made sure I we were completely prepared with detailed info about our new family member's preferences, health history, feeding needs and habits, what to watch for, and how to ease our sweet pug's transition into our home. The whole process was well organized, professional, and very careful to be sure the pug's interests were put first. In fact, the whole process is set up to be sure every pug gets the best opportunity for a new life. I can't recommend this rescue highly enough!”
“Amazing organization that does right by pugs who are often given up in old age or when they are ill. There's no love like Pug Love!”

2. Mattie's Place

Mattie’s Place is a non-registered animal shelter organization with a mission to find compatible permanent families for pets without a home to call their own. They offer various help to pets as they rescue approximately 200 dogs per year. 

Most come into the care of Mattie’s Place with urgent medical needs and would otherwise have faced euthanasia in their current situations. They are highly professional and dedicated to helping dogs regardless of their medical condition to nurture them back to health and offer them new hope.

Most of their donations cover medical bills for these dogs, and they are non-registered for the simple reason they wish to not limit their advocacy efforts when it comes to government legislation that covers dogs.

They are a loving center for dogs of all kinds that require help, so do your part and visit them. Maybe you will find your dream companion here and give them a new home!

Business Information:
159 Fallingbrook Rd, Scarborough, ON M1N 2V2, Canada

Customer Review Highlight:

“My husband and I have been fostering with Mattie’s Place for more than half a year now and we cannot say enough good things about Denise and her team. We never felt like we were unsupported and we could see how dedicated the team is at matching dogs with best possible fosters and adopters. The process is never rushed and always in the best interest of the dog. We deeply appreciate being part of this cause.”
“We applied to adopt one of the dogs posted on Mattie's Place website, not really knowing what to expect or get our hopes up. We were thrilled to be contacted by Denise who asked lots and lots of questions about past pets and anticipated expectations for bringing new pets into our home. It's very clear she has the dogs' well-being as her top priority. The care put into fostering and adopting these dogs by Mattie's Place is tremendous. We are so thrilled to have brought Riley (Rinde) into our home. She is a healthy, happy and extremely well-behaved dog that has fit into our family perfectly.”

3. Buttonnoses

Buttonnoses is a specialized animal shelter dedicated to improving the lives of pint-sized pups in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and beyond, specializing in seniors and special needs. When it comes to their services for our 4 legged small friends, they offer professional and highly specialized pet care that covers all of their needs and helps them go through challenging moments in their lives.

Additionally, they offer training sessions on how to take care of these specific breeds of dogs, as some require either particular method of handling. Overall, this is a fantastic place to get educated about smaller breeds of dogs and a great place to adopt one. 

They offer a list of dogs up for adoption, which you can simply apply for and then contact the shelter. If you ever think about adopting a small dog into your family.  Then Buttonnoses is your place as they will help with any nuances when it comes to the care of your dog while also offering you excellent and loveable dogs!

Business Information:
159 Fallingbrook Rd, Scarborough, ON M1N 2V2, Canada

Customer Review Highlight:

“Nasim - and Buttonnoses - are the absolute best for the littles. The level of care and the attention to both pup and owner are amazing. I left my beautiful cranky quirky old dog with Nasim several times while I was away, and received regular updates, photos, and details of walks that did so much to reassure me that all was well. When my oldie died, Nasim was one of the few people that I contacted with the news because I knew she loved ‘the missus’ despite her idiosyncrasies 🙂. I also adopted my current dog through Buttonnoses Rescue (thank you 🙏🏻❤️), and if / when I need doggo daycare or cat-sitting, I can’t imagine anyone better than Nasim and Daniel to look after my furry family.”
“Nasim is one of the only people that I trust with my dog. I started using her services based on a referral four years ago. The person who referred me had nothing but good things to say and it was not the first time I had heard of Button Noses. Button Noses is well known in the small dog rescue and daycare community for a good reason. Nasim genuinely cares about the dogs she looks after. She takes amazing care of my dog and always sends me photos and updates. She is very responsive and knowledgeable. I am happy to say that my dog has a very strong bond with her and her husband. I know that I don't have to worry when he is at her place. I recommend her to anyone with a small dog!”

4. Stray to Play

Stray to Play is dedicated to finding loving homes for abandoned, abused, or surrendered dogs with the assistance of volunteers, shelter partners, and rescues in their community. They primarily provide pets that individuals can adopt via their simple application system covered in simple steps that you can read about on their website.

On top of that, you may find various exciting tips and tricks for overall dog training on their website, as they provide a handy section for inexperienced dog owners. And you may even find a nice-looking merch for you and your new friend to remember the time that you met each other.

If you are looking to help a dog in need while also getting a new friend, visit Stray to Play, as there is a furry friend definitely waiting for you!

Business Information:

Customer Review Highlight:

“I adopted Benji through Stray to Play in July 2021. The process was extremely thorough and proved to me that Stray to Play truly puts forth its best effort to find their dogs the perfect match. If you're looking to adopt a dog in Toronto, I cannot recommend Stray to Play enough! Benji seconds the review ;)”
“I cannot say enough about the wonderful team at Stray to Play. This was my first time fostering an animal and after extensive screening, interviews and seminars, we were prepared and ready to go! The support we received before, during and after this process surpassed any expectation we had. The communication offered by not only the immediate team members but the online community helped us have the most successful and positive experience. If you are looking to foster, adopt or donate, Stray to Play is the organization you want to work with!”

5. Caring Animal Rescue Team

Care Rescue Team is a non-profit organization that dedicates its life and mission to rescuing dogs/cats of all kinds and providing them with a better future. They primarily manage transportation and adoptions of rescued dogs (and sometimes cats) internationally (mainly from Eastern Europe) and within Canada. 

Their rescues stay in foster homes and are assessed and vetted before finding them a permanent family. They offer their animal pals at no cost; the only thing you will have to possibly pay for is the transportation and a small fee for documentation. 

They only charge money in case of a possible return of your animal friend, which is $200. Overall, this is a very wholesome and helpful organization that wishes to make a difference in an animal’s life. They want you to help them make it a reality!

Business Information:
+ 647-243-1864
161 Hidden Trail, North York, ON M2R 3S9, Canada

Customer Review Highlight:

“CA Rescue Team is a great organization that puts in a lot of hard work and effort to ensure the dogs are brought together with a good home and family. I worked with this organization to adopt a dog and was provided with quality support and a fantastic dog. I know some adopters might think the fee is high but they are good at what they do. The vet bills, flight costs, medicine, supplies and food prices are always going up- never do the costs go down. So I feel they are reasonable. I would not hesitate recommending them to other friends or family. Be patient with them and they will be patient with you. Good things come when people are willing to wait. It’s worth it in the long run of you are looking for a life long companion. 5 Stars! 6 if I could!”
“Thanks to the micro chip we got Cotton back! The staff were very helpful and glad they could get Cotton back home. If you have a pet get them micro chipped so it will be easier to get them back home. Very happy with the service we received!!

6. Toronto Animal Services

Toronto Animal Services, North Shelter is the official animal shelter of the City of Toronto that offers several services. They offer dog adoption, dog spraying/neutering, pet licensing, and more. You can find out about their services on their website.

They also have a section which shows you where you can walk your dog with or without a leash. The adoption process is easy and straightforward, and you will be able to take your new furry friend home in no time. 

So if you’re looking for a place to adopt a dog or cat, be sure to check out Toronto Animal Services!

Business Information:
1300 Sheppard Ave W, North York, ON M3K 2A6, Canada

Customer Review Highlight:

“It’s been just over a year now since we brought home our sweet boy and we are still raving about the service we received at Toronto Animal Services (North). The staff was incredibly kind and thoughtful, doing everything in their power to help us see the dog we wanted. We could tell in every interaction, how much they genuinely cared about the animals in their care - one even shed a few years when we were taking our sweet boy home. Thank you staff of TAS for helping connect us with our beloved family member!”
“I recently visited the north shelter looking to adopt on the weekend, I met the love of my life Sydney there she's such a sweet cat. They gave me alot of information on her and aswell gave me some food and w courier to take her home with her blankets and toys! Such a kind staff very caring and knowledgeable, would recommend going here highly.”

7. Toronto Humane Society

The Toronto Humane Society is one of the most well-rounded animal shelters in North America. They provide industry-leading shelter care, foster care, training, behavioural consultations, and veterinary medicine. 

In addition to their direct work with animals, they also provide community support programs. Their education and socialization training programs help to improve the lives of pets and their owners alike.

In other words, the Toronto Humane Society is a crucial resource for all animals and pet lovers. By working together, we can make sure that every animal has a loving home.

Business Information:
11 River St, Toronto, ON M5A 4C2, Canada

Customer Review Highlight:

“The staff are extremely friendly and kind. You can buy toys, treats, and other dog and cat stuff in their shop, and the proceeds go to the shelter animals. You just have to tell the security guard you’re coming in to make a couple of purchases from the shop.”
“I have adopted all my pets from THS. Two dogs and two lovely cats (over 14 years and as recently as January). I couldn't be happier! It's my favorite animal welfare organization in Toronto. Great affordabke vaccine and dental services. Place is very busy on weekends.”

8. The Underdog Railroad Canada

Underdog Railways Canada is a not-for-profit, Toronto-based animal rescue organization. They focus on rescuing dogs and cats from high kill shelters and rehoming them in loving forever homes. In addition to finding animals their deserved homes, they also provide foster homes during the animals’ recovery process and rehabilitation, as appropriate. 

They believe that every animal deserves a chance at a happy life and they work tirelessly to make that happen. In order to ensure that each animal is placed in a healthy home, they provide all the necessary vet care before adoption. This includes vaccinations and spay/neuter agreements (for puppies and some large breeds). 

They are a dedicated team of animal advocates who are making a difference in the lives of animals in need. If you’re looking to adopt a furry friend, please consider adopting from Underdog Railways Canada!

Business Information:

Customer Review Highlight:

“The Underdog Railroad Canada is an awesome rescue run by ladies who have huge, caring hearts and work diligently to find forever homes for so many dogs, cats and other animals. Over the past four years, we have fostered 15 dogs and one kitten for them. Our first and last fosters failed and we adopted Jack and Rosco.”
“We just brought home our girl Puffy from her foster mom Amanda, and we couldn't be happier! Amanda showered her with love and we are so thankful for her. Our experience with Underdog Railroad has been nothing short of amazing! Our adoption agent Lauren has provided us with so much knowledge and insight. She was there every step of the way, with quick responses and she made the adoption experience a wonderful one. Thank you so much Underdog Railroad!! With love from Puffy, Hannah & Catherine”

9. Etobicoke Humane Society

The Etobicoke Humane Society (EHS) is an independent, all-volunteer, federally registered charity established in 1987.  They provide a safe haven for approximately 30 to 40 cats and nine dogs in the shelter. In addition, they also count on foster homes to further expand their capacity to issue care to animals.

They make sure they are well cared for by taking extra steps to address the medical needs of their animals. This may include spending additional time with veterinary professionals or other specialized trainers to work on behavioural problems. 

Canines can be taken to a training facility dedicated to this.  A one-on-one will be reserved with a technical professional. Furthermore, they provide a unique Sanctuary Program; it’s a particular program for animals dealing with chronic illnesses or who may be considered palliative. 

They place these animals in foster homes where they can live out their days in the comfort of a home environment. If you are looking for a highly dedicated and caring shelter, then EHS is the place to go!

Business Information:
67 Six Point Rd, Etobicoke, ON M8Z 2X3, Canada

Customer Review Highlight:

“I absolutely recommend adopting from EHS. We were looking to add a bonded pair to our family. After the initial interview, they recommended a pair that were in foster. We already had a 13 year old chocolate lab at home...and wanted two cats that wouldn’t be traumatized sharing a home with a senior dog. Long story short, we are so happy with the cats we adopted! They couldn’t be a better fit. Thank you to all the volunteers at EHS. We love our new family.”
“A small shelter with a big heart indeed! All volunteer run, this shelter really cares about the animals it takes care of - the people involved are very dedicated to the animals - from managers, to cat volunteers, dog volunteers and drivers, coordinators - everyone has a passion for animals! They do not give up on any animal. Adopt don't shop!!”

FAQs About Adopting or Rescuing Dogs in Toronto

No, there is no minimum age requirement to adopt or rescue a dog in Toronto. However, some shelters or rescues may require you to be at least 18 years old.
No, you do not need to own your home to adopt or rescue a dog in Toronto. However, some shelters or rescues may require you to have landlord approval if you’re renting.
The adoption process can vary depending on the shelter or rescue you’re adopting from. However, most places will require you to fill out an application and go through an interview process. Some shelters or rescues may also require a home visit before finalizing the adoption.
Yes, most shelters or rescues will require you to have your dog spayed or neutered before finalizing the adoption. This helps to control the pet population and reduce the risk of health problems.

Final Thoughts

Known as man’s best friend, dogs make for great companions! Finding the perfect dog for you can be difficult as there are a lot of factors to consider. Just finding a reputable animal shelter can be a challenge. 

If you’re ready for the responsibility, any of these Toronto adoptions or dog shelters will be perfect for you and your potential four-legged friend!

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