Best 5 Dog Rescues in Western New York & Dogs Shelters (2022)

Dog adoption is a beautiful thing. There are millions of pets in shelters and rescues waiting for forever homes. Adopting a dog can help homeless animals and set an excellent example for others.

Dog adoption isn’t suitable for everyone, and it’s not something you should get into lightly. Getting a dog is an important decision that will affect your life for many years. If you’ve decided dog adoption is for you, this is excellent news!

Bringing an adopted dog into your home should be a rewarding experience for you and your family. Before looking for your future best friend, arm yourself with the knowledge to navigate the world of dog adoption and make the best possible decision.

We’ve compiled a list of the top Western New York dog rescue & shelters with an adoption guide.

Top 5 Dog Rescues & Shelters in Western NY

Adoption is an alternative that benefits everyone when it comes to acquiring a pet: the family, animal protection entities, and, of course, the dog itself

Shelters across the country house approximately eight million companion animals each year.  Yet, nearly 50% of them are euthanized due to the shelter’s lack of resources.

Dog Rescues & Shelters

1) Pets Alive WNY 

Nonprofit status. Pets Alive WNY (aka Buffalo Humane) is a New York State incorporated nonprofit organization and IRS tax-exempt 501(c)3 public charity devoted to animal welfare in the region. They operate on a 100% volunteer basis, and Pets Alive WNY activities are funded exclusively through fundraising, contributions, and donations. Your help is greatly needed so that they can continue Pets Alive WNY work on behalf of area animals.

Pets Alive WNY mission is to promote and protect the health, safety, and welfare of pets and people by taking in and placing homeless companion animals, encouraging and supporting spay/neuter, providing community outreach to ensure proper animal stewardship, and promoting rational and effective animal care and control policies at all levels of government.

Pets Alive WNY Dog Adoption Center Information and Details:


Dog Rescues & Shelters

2) Awesome Paws Rescue

Awesome Paws Rescue is a volunteer-based, no-kill rescue focused on saving dogs at risk of euthanasia in overcrowded Southern shelters. They coordinate and transport dogs from various southern states and bring them to Buffalo, where the dogs stay with foster families until they are adopted. Because the are a foster based organization, there is no shelter you can visit to see all the adoptable dogs. All of Awesome Paws rescues are getting reacquainted to “home life”, where they can receive individual attention and their personalities are given a chance to truly shine. Through fostering the are able to provide a more comfortable and relaxed atmosphere for the dogs to learn new tricks and remember what it feels like to be loved once again if not for the first time ever!

Awesome Paws Rescue are officially a 501 (C) (3) non-profit charity, as such the rely on donations to continue the Rescue mission. It is only through the generosity of the Rescue supporters that the are able to provide the Rescue animals with the true love and care that they deserve. Donations allow the Awesome Paws Rescue to transport these dogs to Buffalo and be able to provide the medical care that these animals so desperately need to survive. With no overhead costs or paid members, every penny goes right to the dogs in need.

Awesome Paws Rescue volunteers are the heart and soul of the operation, they are truly heroes. The Rescue wonderful fosters share their love and their homes with the dogs until they find their forever home. Fosters are the bridge between what was, and what can be; they are the pathway to a new life. They also need volunteers to attend events and process adoption applications. Volunteering can be as much or as little as you’re comfortable with and around your schedule. It truly makes a difference and is something the whole family can get involved in together.

The Awesome Paws Rescue Information and Details:


Dog Rescues & Shelters

3) Nickel City Canine Rescue

They are an all-volunteer and fostered-based rescue located in the greater Buffalo, NY area. Nickel City Canine Rescue pride in being an all-breed dog rescue. They are a 50l(c)(3) organization and 100% of the money they raise goes towards the rescue and rehabilitation of the dogs in Nickel City Canine Rescue care. They are 100% volunteer-based.

Since the rescue started its operations in November of 2018, they have rescued over 1,800 dogs across nine states: Kentucky, West Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Texas, Ohio, Tennessee, and New York. They have no intention of slowing down.

Nickel City Canine Rescue volunteers work tirelessly to save these dogs from the terrible fate of euthanasia due to overcrowding at shelters across the nation.

Nickel City Canine Rescue does not receive any funding from the county, city, state, or federal governments. The rescue does not receive tax dollars of any kind . . . they are only able to assist the people and pets in need thanks to donations from the community

Nickel City Canine Rescue Information and Details:


Dog Rescues & Shelters

4) Heart of Niagara Animal Rescue, Inc.

Heart of Niagara Animal Rescue’s purpose is to protect the health and welfare of abandoned, unwanted and homeless companion dogs which will help reduce the staggering number of innocent dogs senselessly killed each day.
They are a not for profit, 501(c)3 organization.

Heart of Niagara Animal Rescue’s Mission is to protect the health and welfare of abandoned, unwanted and homeless companion dogs which will help reduce the staggering number of innocent dogs senselessly killed each day. As an organization, they will provide shelter for the Rescue dogs until they are placed with suitable adoptive families. Prior to adoption the Rescue dogs will be evaluated, vaccinated and spayed or neutered by licensed veterinarians. They recognize the need for low-cost spay/neuter services and vaccination/micro-chip clinics for the health and safety of the dogs in the community and will work to attain these services.

The rescue will work to educate the community on the importance of pro-active measures in regard to proper/responsible animal care, the prevention of cruelty to animals and the consequences associated with overpopulation.

Heart of Niagara Animal Rescue, Inc. Information and Details:


Dog Rescues & Shelters

5) HEART Animal Rescue

HEART Animal Rescue & Adoption Team Inc. was formed in 1984. Since then They have saved the lives of thousands of animals. They are an all-volunteer, non-profit, no-kill organization whose main objective is to alleviate the suffering of neglected, injured, orphaned, sick or abused animals in Western New York.

HEART believes that all animals deserve the right to live a good quality life, regardless of handicap or personality. HEART Animal Rescue treat all living creatures as they would wish to be treated.

They rescue, foster, and place companion animals in loving, forever homes. Each story is different and many are heart-breaking, but in every case there is a common thread; an animal that deserves a second chance at life.

HEART Animal Rescue Information and Details:


Dog Rescue & Shelter Online

We hope that one of the shelters listed above can help you find your future dog, but if for some reason that doesn’t happen you can always opt for different alternatives.

For this reason, we’ve added these alternative platforms. These platforms will help you connect with people who have dogs for sale or adoption near you. It can be a great alternative in looking for your future pup within the comfort of your home.

AKC Market Place

Finding trustworthy dog breeders, groomers, and trainers can be challenging. AKC Marketplace is your trusted resource to help make a lifetime of responsible dog ownership safe, happy, and healthy.

AKC Marketplace® is the only website that exclusively lists puppies from AKC-Registered litters, so you can choose a breeder with confidence.

Adopt A Pet

If you want to give an abandoned puppy a second chance, a shelter is definitely the place to find a dog.

Adopt a pet is North America’s largest non-profit pet adoption website. They help over 21,000 animal shelters, humane societies, SPCAs, pet rescue groups, and pet adoption agencies advertise their homeless pets to millions of adopters a month, for free.

Puppies for sale Today

Puppies Today has over a decade of experience, established in 2008. They pride themselves on connecting loving families with new furry friends and have happy customers all over the nation. They provide all of their customer’s puppy payment plans and health guarantees to ensure the best experience and peace of mind when adopting a puppy through their service.

Dog Rescues & Shelters

Check Out Our Dog Breeders Page :


How much does it cost to adopt a dog?

Generally, it will cost around $50 to $150 for a dog – and because typically shelters and rescuers give pets medical treatment, you’ll save money on a medical examination; you’ll also likely save on spay or neuter surgery, which can cost around $50 to $300.

Aside from the puppy’s price, it would be best to consider the expenses that would come with it. For instance, you may want to get the essential things for your puppies like grooming tools, food, and shelter.

What kind of dog should you adopt?

If you have decided to adopt a dog, you may want a mixed breed dog. Or, you can have your heart set on a specific dog breed. It is possible to adopt purebred dogs from shelters and rescues if you plan ahead. However, if you’re not set on a particular breed, you should still have an idea of ​​the type of dog you want.

Consider age, size, care needs, health concerns, and activity level. Have your wishes in mind before you go looking. Better yet, create a list of dog characteristics that is divided into three areas:

  • What do you absolutely need in a dog: Do you have children, cats, or other dogs? The dog you adopt must be able to get along well with everyone in your home. Are you in an apartment or small house and need a small dog? Are you allergic to certain types of dogs and need a hypoallergenic breed? These are just some of the things to consider.
  • What you would like in a dog but can live without: Maybe you have a soft spot for a specific breed but will be happy with a mix of that breed. Maybe you want a dog with short hair, but don’t worry about a little extra grooming if you meet a big long-haired dog.
  • What is not acceptable to you: these are dealbreakers. What qualities would prevent you from even considering a certain dog? Dimension? Temperament? Maybe you have a fear or dislike for a certain dog breed. Perhaps you are renting out your home and have to meet specific rental requirements.

Write everything down and take the list with you. That way, when you go out and see all those cute faces, you will know where to start.

When not to adopt a dog

It is best to avoid adopting a dog in the following circumstances:

  • You are in the process of moving
  • You are remodeling or repairing your home
  • You are about to have a baby (it is usually best to have the baby and let life stabilize a bit before introducing a new dog)
  • It’s the holiday season ( dogs aren’t meant to be gifts and holidays are usually too hectic for a new dog)
  • You or someone in your family is going through other major life events (the new dog may be lost in the shuffle or be overwhelmed by chaos)

The Dog Adoption Process

Well done! You have found your new dog. Now is the time for formalities. Most organizations require an application before they can adopt. This is to prevent pets from falling into the wrong hands. While it may sound like an interrogation, these groups have policies in place for a reason. Fortunately, many people have no problem getting approval.

Some groups require a waiting period before bringing your new dog home, possibly due to a medical procedure that has been done. Some dogs may have a waiting list, so ask questions beforehand.

Find out what the adoption fee includes (vaccines, spay/neuter, etc.). Before signing the contract, learn what you expect from yourself and what the group will do to help you. If the dog is too young to be spayed or neutered, the contract will require it to do so in the future. Also, find out what happens if you can’t keep the dog.

Most organizations ask you to return the dog to them if you can no longer care for it (don’t give it away to someone else). Find out what is known about the dog’s history and what health problems, if any, were noted while the dog was in their care.

Final Thoughts

Remember, it can take a long time for a dog to adjust to a new home. You and your family will need time to adjust. You may notice that your new dog has behavioral problems, fears, phobias, or lacks training. If the adaptation period is long and complex, it’s a good idea to seek the assistance of a dog trainer or behaviorist.

You may need to consult more than one. Be patient and follow the advice of the experts. If you feel that you have genuinely exhausted your options, you may decide to give up on your new dog.

Remember to try to get your dog back to the place of adoption first. If this is not an option, you need to be responsible and find a good home for your dog. I hope you never have to be in this situation.


  • Brooke Jessica

    Dr. Brooke Ramos completed her undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University and her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine degree from North Carolina State University. She practiced for several years in Raleigh, NC prior to moving to Winston-Salem in 2007 to be closer to her family. Her special interests include internal medicine, geriatric care, preventative care, and holistic medicine. She has always had a deep love for all animals and believes in treating each animal as if it were her own. She currently has one cat but plans to have multiple dogs, cats, and hopefully horses when space permits.