So you'd love to adopt a dog, but your local shelter just never seems to have quite the right pup for you? Or you just don't know where to get started?

You're in luck! There are many fabulous dog shelters and rescues in the San Francisco Bay Area. Here is a handy list (with links directly to the adoption pages) to get you started.


These are physical kennels that house adoptable dogs. They have set hours when you can come meet all the dogs at once, and you can generally adopt anytime. Many shelters also offer community services such as training classes, low-cost spay/neuter surgeries, and vaccination clinics.


East Bay

All-breed rescues

These are networks of volunteer foster homes that save dogs from shelters and helps them find loving homes. You usually meet the dogs by going to adoption events or contacting foster homes directly. Rescues often have more diverse range of breeds than shelters. The locations are only approximate, since rescues typically hold mobile adoption events in different locations on the Peninsula. Most rescues do not have a physical kennel.


East Bay

All over Bay Area

Breed-specific rescues

These rescues specialize in a particular breed. They typically get their dogs through owner surrenders and from shelters or other rescues. They are an ideal source of honest information about the good and not-so-good traits of their breeds. These breed rescues all operate in Northern California and usually have foster homes over a wider geographic range than all-breed rescues. Especially for less common breeds, the rescue may not host regular adoption events and may instead ask adopters to make arrangements directly with foster homes.

Dog adoption search engines

These nation-wide search engines let you input your location and some information about the kind of dog you're looking for (e.g., breed, age, sex) and find adoptable dogs submitted by various shelters and rescues. They can be a great start, especially if you are looking for an unusual breed. But, since not all shelters and rescues submit their dogs to search engines, hand-searching the websites listed above is still your best bet.

Other resources

  • WagarooSpecific to Bay Area. Lists dogs available through shelters, rescues, responsible breeders, and pet owners. Also offers free personal consultation to help match adopters with dogs.
  • Bay WoofAnother directory of Bay Area shelters and rescues. Includes some listings from the greater Bay Area (e.g. Contra Costa County).

(Have a local shelter or rescue you'd like added to the list? Contact me below.)