Since this summer, rescues, foster organisations, and humane societies across the country have seen an increase in dogs surrendered to rescues or put for adoption as people returned to pre-pandemic life and with the rising cost of living. For many pet-advocates and loving dog parents, it’s hard to imagine giving up your pooch. 


Since October is National Adopt-a-Dog Month, we’re taking some time to learn more about the history of shelter dogs, share some facts, give you 5 ideas on how you can support adopt-a-dog month, and of course, spotlight 7 amazing rescues, shelter, and foster organizations where you can find your new companion.

A Brief History of Shelters

Did you know that the history of dog shelters goes back almost 200 years ago? 
The very first organised SPCA began in England in 1824 as the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). During that time there were few, if any, legislation against the cruelty to children and livestock and for the first few years, the SPCA struggled to gain support to their mission.


16 years later, the SPCA’s hard work and dedication paid off and was even recognized by England’s greatest power - the royal patronage - in 1837. 


A similar animal welfare charity was subsequently established in North America. With our first American SPCA established in New York in 1866. Canada followed shortly after, with our first SPCA founded in Montreal in 1869. Societies in Quebec (1870), Ottawa (1871), and Toronto (1873) were established a few years later.


Thanks to these societies and growing interest in animal welfare Canada passed its first set of animal cruelty laws in 1892.

Canadian Shelter Facts

According to the latest Humane Canada’s annual report (2020):

  • 34% of dogs were surrendered by their owners in 2020
  • 38% of dogs were found as strays in 2020
  • 46% of dogs were adopted in 2020
  • 12% of dogs were euthanized in 2020

Adopt-A-Dog month's goal is to help reduce the number of dogs euthanized in shelters and to help dogs who are waiting in shelters find their loving, forever homes that they deserve.

a Human hand and a dog

4 Ways to Support Adopt-A-Dog Month Without Adopting a Dog

1. Share your Rescue/Foster/Adopted Dog story. Sharing a personal story about your experiences with rescuing, fostering, adopting, or even volunteering for one of these charities is a great low-cost way to bring awareness and encourage others to support and help find a new home for the hundreds of dogs in need of a furever home.


2. Volunteer your time at events or as a foster for a dog in need. Whether it’s volunteering with one of the rescues or shelters at a fundraising event this month or even volunteering your home as a doggy foster parent - this month is the perfect time to contact your favourite shelters to support dogs in need. 


The value of fosters cannot be overrated. If you have the time and availability, fostering pets can be a lifesaver for pets in need of extra care that they wouldn’t otherwise receive at shelters. For many rescues, fosters are the backbone of their group and are the reason why some rescues can help as many animals as they do. 


According to a few shelters and rescues, there is a growing shortage in foster homes available in Ontario. Freedom Dog Rescue, for example, reported to CBC that this summer, only 10 percent of the dogs they receive surrender requests from are fostered because of the overwhelming increase in surrender requests received as people navigate post-pandemic life.


3. Donate. Whether it’s animal bills to pay, pet toys, or repurchasing supplies, any animal rescue or shelter will appreciate your generous monetary donation and will always be gratefully accepted. Your donation can be used to help cover daily operational costs, animal enrichment, community outreach programs, training, supplies, and so much more. 


4. Help At Home. Many dogs that come into rescues are often strays or lost animals. According to Humane Canada in 2020, 30% of animals are returned to their original owners. By microchipping your pet and attaching an ID to your pet’s collar, shelters and rescues can help reconnect lost pets with their owners faster. 

Adopt a Dog in Ontario this Month

Whether you’re looking to adopt a dog this month or ready to support a rescue or charity this month, here are 7 great rescues and shelters in Ontario that would appreciate the help! 


Fetch and Releash - Based out of the Greater Toronto Area, F+R is a volunteer run organization dedicated to rescuing and rehoming dogs in danger of homelessness, abuse, neglect and euthanasia, both locally and abroad. Fetch and Releash is a primarily foster-based dog rescue and their dogs live in private homes across the Greater Toronto Area.


HelpAWS - An animal welfare non-profit organization focused on animal welfare in St. Lucia. The founder, originally from Riverview, Ontario, established this organization to address the animal overpopulation on the island. Since then the group has helped thousands of animals successfully find their forever families in Canada, the US, and Europe. 


Mutts Dog Rescue - MUTTS is a group of volunteers dedicated to saving and rehoming dogs in danger of homelessness, abuse and neglect. They work closely with shelters and remote communities across Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, and rescue partners in other countries. In addition to their commitment to finding dogs their forever homes, they advocate for and support Sistering, a multi-service agency for at-risk, socially isolated women and trans people in Toronto who are homeless or precariously housed. MUTTS has also built a partnership with the Peel Region Sex Trafficking department to assist victos of trafficking by offering a safe space and supplies for their pet during their transition. 


Finding Them Homes - Finding Them Homes’ mission is to help communities along Ontario’s James Bay coast and other remote Northern Ontario locations reduce the dog overpopulation by adopting dogs out to their forever homes, running spay/neuter clinics in the communities, and providing donated dog food and supplies.


Save Our Scruff - Save Our Scruff is a non-profit organization located in Toronto dedicated to rescuing dogs and finding them safe and suitable permanent homes through adoption, advocacy and education. By working with committed volunteers, foster homes, veterinarians, and trainers, they are able to rescue dogs and provide them with loving temporary care while finding them well-matched, carefully screened forever homes.


Precious Paws Rescue - Precious Paws Rescue is a registered charity, all-breed dog rescue, based in Simcoe County. Since 2006 they have been dedicated to saving the lives of homeless dogs through a volunteer foster program. Located in Barrie, Ontario, but also rescue dogs from high-kill shelters everywhere.


Ontario SPCA and Humane Society - Most regions of Ontario have their own regional humane society (like the Toronto Humane Society, North Bay Humane Society, Timmins & District Humane Society, etc.) but we’re linking the Ontario page since the adopt-a-pet page not only consolidates animals from various cities, but also because it links to other larger Humane Society organizations as well.

Have other ideas on how we can all better support Adopt-A-Dog month or have a rescue you know that needs some love this month? Share it with the community and leave it in the comments below!

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