by Tricia Dewey
Pet adoption groups, including shelters, humane societies, and rescues, abound in Memphis and the Mid-South because of the overwhelming need for dog and cat rescues. In 2020, the Memphis Animal Shelter took in more than 6300 dogs, cats, and other pets, the majority of which were strays. Pet adoption groups generally strive to save pets and find them loving, preferably forever, homes where they can take their rightful places as sweet, crazy, goofy, and, most of all, lovable family pets. The rescue groups, which are usually nonprofits, work to re-home pets by finding foster families for dogs and cats that come to their rescues as strays, pets surrendered by their owners, and dogs pulled from shelters. Fostering dogs and cats usually with other pets in the home is the crucial step between rescuing and finding a forever home for pets. Foster families help to socialize the dogs, sometimes help them through medical treatments, and discern the type of pet owners they might best connect with.
Most rescue groups rely on donations and volunteers to save these cats, dogs, rabbits, and other animals. Many groups have virtual fundraisers for rescue medical bills, volunteer website links to apply to be fosters (the biggest need), and some are back to in-person adoption events.
The list of rescue groups below is not a complete list of rescues in the Mid-South, but all groups listed can be found on the internet or on social media usually with postings of pets that are available to adopt. Many groups have a multi-step adoption process that includes application, interview, and home visit. The online applications, which can be very detailed, help rescue groups assess whether potential adopters will be responsible pet owners. Many adoption processes now include signing a detailed contract covering everything from types of collars allowed and fencing requirements to an agreement that the pet will be returned to the rescue group if the new owner can no longer keep them. Many groups contact references provided, including vet references. Adoption fees usually cover spay/neuter, microchipping, vaccinations, heartworm test, and initial heartworm medication. All of these steps are designed to help develop a permanent relationship, first with the rescue organization, and eventually with the rescue pet, and ensure that rescued pets are going to new owners who are serious about committing to the responsibility of pet ownership.
Rescue groups recognize the major commitment of taking on a new pet and many will work with you to try out a pet for a few weeks to help decide whether the pet fits with you and your family, or you can commit to trying a few dogs in the foster-to-adopt situation, until you decide to make the commitment permanent. In general, the more involved the adoption process is, the more thorough one can assume that the rescue group will be in vet work and connecting you with your rescue pet.
- ALIVE Rescue Memphis: aliverescuememphis.org. Applicants must live within 50 miles of local chapter in Memphis, Nashville, Grand Rapids, or Chicago to adopt and within 30 miles of Memphis to foster.
- Blues City Animal Rescue: founded in 2012. Bluescityanimalrescue.org, Adoptable dogs linked on the website and can fill out application there. Rescues are available in Memphis and New England area.
- Collierville Animal Shelter, Germantown Animal Shelter, Horn Lake Animal Shelter, Tipton County Animal Shelter: Many local towns in Mid-South have their own shelters. Adoption fees are typically much lower than rescue groups. Vetting and application process may not be as extensive.
- HappiDog Animal Rescue: happidogrescue.com, dedicated to finding loving homes for abandoned and homeless dogs in Memphis area. Shop with treats and trinkets on website. Also looking for volunteers to help transport some Memphis dogs to sister rescue and adopters in Pittsburgh. Adoption fee $295.
- Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby County: 935 Farm Road, memphishumane.org. Founded in 1933. No-kill shelter, typically takes in severe medical cases, but often full and unable to take in new animals. Their mission is to rescue injured and abused animals. Shelters more than 100 animals and places dozens more with fosters. Currently adoptions by appointment only. Adoption fee $100-250.
- Memphis Animal Services: 2350 Appling City Cove, 901-636-1416, memphisanimalservices.com, tasked by law to handle animal control complaints (including strays, injured, and aggressive dogs) and bite cases, dog licensing, cruelty investigations, and humane education. Also shelters lost and homeless pets. Also focus on reaching out to rescues to foster some dogs from MAS. Now exhaust all efforts before euthanizing for space.
- Memphis Pets Alive!: memphispetsalive.org. Adopters must be local to the Memphis area. Adoption fee $150.
- Mid-South Animal Rescue League Bartlett: marlcares.org. Adoption agreement is required, thorough application process. Mostly local adoptions. Adoption fee is $100.
- Perfect Match Animal Rescue: perfectmatchanimalrescue.org dogs adopted to Memphis area and also to the Northeast. Low cost spay/neuter program available on case by case basis for dogs and cats.
- Real Good Dog Rescue: realgooddogrescue.com. Since 2004, helps to foster dogs pulled primarily from Memphis Animal Shelter or from owner surrenders. Adoption fee $200.
- Streetdog Foundation: streetdogfoundation.com. Focuses on dogs needing medical treatment. Very thorough adoption process. Two-week trial period before adoption finalized. Streetdog’s website lists available dogs including their background stories of how they came to Streetdog (many were abandoned or strays) or and personality traits such as whether they’re good with dogs, cats, kids, treats, toys, etc. Adoption fee $250.
- Sunny Meadows Safe Haven for Pets: sunnymeadows.org, claims to be the largest no-kill rescue facility in the Mid-South, saved and re-homed thousands of pets in the past 11 years.
- Tails of Hope Rescue: tailsofhopedogrescue.com. Focuses on rescue of medical cases. Thorough adoption process. Facebook page has descriptions and insights into adoptable dogs.
- Team Memphis Rescue and Support: teammemphis.org all-breed rescue, adoption process available on line. Adoption fee $300.
- Tunica Humane Society: tunicahumanesociety.com. No-kill animal shelter “dedicated to saving the lives of all animals who are endangered, neglected, abandoned, or abused.” Aggressively pursues high quality, low-cost spay and neuter. Call for appointment to meet dogs and cats. Adoption fee is $100, covers all vetting.
- Wilson Animal Rescue: wilsonanimalrescue.com, small, volunteer-run, foster-based group. Focus on rescuing dogs in danger of being euthanized at local shelters.
- Woof River Rescue: woofriveranimalrescue.wordpress.com, adoption fee $290 for Memphis and more for other parts of TN, the Midwest, or the Northeast.