I’ll do my best to keep this up to date. Let me know if it’s not. I’ll also add some brief info on each as I gather it. Also see my breed-specific rescue page.

Bureau of Animal Regulation & Care (BARC)–This is the Houston City pound. Lots of great dogs in need. Some of the dogs are also listed on the Friends of BARC Petfinder site. This is a high-kill shelter–animals are kept less than 90 days and euthanasia rate is VERY high. If they aren’t adopted, they’re euthanized. These animals really need you!

Citizens for Animal Protection (CAP)

Houston Humane Society

Houston SPCA

Rescue/Foster Groups
Friends of BARC

Homeless & Orphaned Pet Endeavor (HOPE)

Scout’s Honor Rescue

Friends of BARC

Lucky Leash Rescue

Bunny Buddies

Friends for Life


Houston Area Ferret Association

Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch

Harris County Public Health & Environmental Services

Paws Houston–for owners who are terminally ill

Twyla’s Friends in Kingwood, TX

Volunteers for Animal Protection in Kingwood, TX

S.A.F.E. House Animal Rescue and Adoption in Spring, TX

Smiling Dog Farms–Sanctuary of last resort in Wharton, TX

Zeke Fund Animal Rescue in Brookshire

South Texas Animal Adoption Resource (STAAR) in Katy, TX

Etosha Rescue and Adoption Center in Seguin, TX, best known for rescuing hounds, Great Danes, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, and Mastiffs, as well as other purebred and mix breed dogs.

National and International Animal Welfare Organizations
Best Friends Animal Society

Dogs Deserve Better–dedicated to freeing chained dogs and bringing them into the home. Visit Dogs Deserve Better Reps to find local representatives. (Unfortunately, none in Houston at this time.)

The Humane Society of the United States

United Animal Nations

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)

Gifted Animal Placement–The Gifted Animal Placement program or GAP, teaches animal shelter personnel and others who work with dogs how to identify dogs for special service uses such as bomb or drug detection, search and rescue, handicap assistance, seizure alert, cancer sniffing, veggie sniffing, and more.

3 Responses to “Houston Area Shelters & Rescue Groups”

  1. […] Houston Area Shelters and Rescue Groups – This is a really great list.  I love that they have Bunny Buddies and the Houston Area Ferret Rescue listed. […]

  2. Please be advised that we have placed a Sanctuary Alert on Smiling Dog Farms in Wharton, Texas.

    For more information, please visit: http://www.sanctuarywatch.org
    To ensure homeless animals being cared for by rescue facilities have the highest quality care they deserve.
    Read more…
    Or visit our Facebook page for more information: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sanctuary-Watch/963306607031716​

    Sanctuary Watch | Facebook
    To ensure homeless animals being cared for by rescue facilities have the sanctuary they deserve.
    Read more…


    Dear Smiling Dog Farms,
    It is with compassion for Smiling Dog Farms that we write this post. We write with respect for the fact that you have been doing dog rescue since 1994 and that Smiling Dog Farms is your life’s work. As you read this post and look at the photos that you know were taken at Smiling Dog Farms, please hold on to something that we share: a love of dogs.

    These words are familiar to you because these are the same opening words we used when we reached out to you following our visit on August 29th & 30th. We reached out to you September 23rd to share the animal welfare complaint we filed with the Wharton County Sheriff and the Humane Society of the United States. Our report we shared included the following complaints:

    #1. Smiling Dog Farms does not spay and neuter all of the animals in its care. We observed two puppies from two different accidental litters. An estimated 40% of the dogs at Smiling Dog Farms are not fixed. As a result, Smiling Dog Farms is contributing to pet overpopulation.

    #2. SDF is not providing adequate medical care:

    a. We estimate 80% of the dogs we observed have a skin issue, including flea bite dermatitis and mange (demodex or sarcoptes or both).

    b. There’s a systemic eye issue at Smiling Dog Farms. Crusty yellow and green goopy eyes that may be bacterial conjunctivitis.

    c. There are underweight dogs with a BCS 2 that should be evaluated by a vet.

    #3. SDF does not provide adequate shelter for all the dogs and in some cases, there is poor drainage. 1 travel crate or dog-loo for 2 dogs is not adequate. 1 travel crate with chewed out sides is not adequate. 1 wooden triangle is not adequate for protection from the elements.

    #4. SDF feeds baked goods, which is unwholesome food. It also appears that baked goods may be the primary food source for some of the dogs. Baked goods don’t have the nutrients dogs need. And while the chocolate in chocolate doughnuts may be wax, the sugar in many baked goods is not healthy for dogs. The baked goods being fed are moldy in some instances.

    #5. SDF has too many dogs and continues to take in more dogs than are being adopted out.

    a. You stated repeatedly that you have 220 dogs; however, the most recent inventory provided by your attorney, John Perches, documents 323 dogs.

    b. SDF has a history of taking in pregnant females that have had puppies at the Farm.

    c. Puppies have grown into adulthood at Smiling Dog Farms. For example, Sweet Pea has been with you for 8 years, and her son, Ernest, was born at the Farm 8 years ago.

    #6. SDF doesn’t have the people needed for adequate caretaking. Using HSUS’s kennel caretaking formula, using the 323 dogs listed in the inventory, SDF needs 27 staff members who would each spend 15 minutes a day feeding and cleaning each kennel sufficiently. And that’s just feeding and cleaning. That’s not enrichment. That’s not training. That’s not socialization. That’s the bare minimum. Here’s the formula: http://www.animalsheltering.org/resources/policies_guidelines/general-staffing-recommendations-for-kennel-caretaking.html

    #7. Because SDF does not have the staff or volunteers spending time every day cleaning, there are unsanitary living conditions: Unclean water and waste buildup on the order of months.

    #8. Because SDF does not have staff interacting with each dog every day, dogs are under socialized dogs and it’s lowering their chances of being adopted. Puppies like Larson will be harder to adopt because there is little socialization with people or other dogs.

    #9. Dogs are fighting because the dogs aren’t getting enough physical or mental stimulation, and they’re re-directing on each other.

    #10. SDF is not building trust with donors or adopters. You have dogs that you would not allow us to see in Wharton and Galveston. As a public charity with 501c3 status, the ONLY way to build trust with the public is to give visibility to your entire operations. Without that trust, you cannot successfully run a non-profit dog rescue.

    We were filled with hope when you responded to our offer for help that very same day. You wrote, “Your email is a God Send to us here at Smiling Dog Farms! We have been toughing it out for years now.”

    Smiling Dog Farms is and has been struggling to provide a minimum standard of care for years, and it’s negatively impacting the welfare of the dogs. You’ve run Smiling Dog Farms for a long time, and you’ve been looking at dogs in sub-par conditions for so long that it’s become your normal. You have acknowledged repeatedly in conversation with us that you are overwhelmed by the scale of your operations. You have stated repeatedly in conversation with us that you want to reduce the number of dogs to less than 25 and that you have dreams of coaching other rescues on how to make a greater impact in animal welfare.

    To this end, we agreed to team up. Here is reminder of the steps we took together to get SDF into a manageable state:

    + We asked you to close intake without exception until further notice. And you’ve done that by posting the notice on your Facebook page and website. We applaud this very important first step.

    + We asked you to stop feeding bread, and you report you stopped feeding bread upon our request.

    + We arranged to relocate Tucker, a former Olympic Animal Sanctuary dog, with the support of Our Pal’s Place, and we funded his transport to Nevada.

    This is where our conversations dried up because the next step required a team to come onsite in Wharton and to see all of the dogs under your care. Given our conversations halted, we have placed a Sanctuary Watch on Smiling Dog Farms.

    Smiling Dog Farms, you’ve devoted your lives to caring for dogs, and we believe the animal rescue community—Pet Project Foundation, BARC, the Brazoria County Animal Shelter–has asked too much of you. You’ve been carrying an enormous burden for too long. And this burden is taking its toll on the dogs.

    As scary as this is for Smiling Dog Farms, now is the time to open your doors with full transparency in order for the animal rescue community to help you create a better now and a better future for the animals.

    Our offer to help remains, and we’ve included this here for you again: We have assembled a triage team and have secured funding to conduct an assessment of the dogs in your care and your overall operations. We can provide medical care if needed and guidance and support for improving living conditions. With a baseline of all the dogs and a better understanding of your resources and operations, we can then team up with you to create a plan that leverages the resources of other rescue groups and agencies to provide vet care to the dogs who need it, spaying and neutering, and placing the most adoptable dogs as quickly as possible. As we have discussed, the assessment should include all the animals in your care, including your own personal dogs. This assessment will be a multi-day effort, the visiting team working side-by-side with you and Smiling Dog Farms staff.

    In closing, you have said, “You are either for us or against us.” We are neither. We are for the dogs.

    The Sanctuary Watch Team

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