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.
- San Francisco SPCA (San Francisco)
- San Francisco Animal Care and Control (San Francisco)
- Pets Unlimited (San Francisco)
- Peninsula Humane Society (San Mateo)
- Pets In Need (Redwood City)
- Palo Alto Animal Services (Palo Alto)
- Silicon Valley Animal Control Authority (Santa Clara)
- Humane Society of Silicon Valley (Milpitas, Sunnyvale, Saratoga branches)
- San Jose Animal Care Center (San Jose)
- Nike Animal Rescue Foundation (San Jose)
- Alameda City Animal Control (Alameda)
- Berkeley Animal Care Services (Berkeley)
- Berkeley Humane (Berkeley)
- East Bay SPCA (Dublin, Oakland branches)
- Hayward Animal Services (Hayward)
- Oakland Animal Services (Oakland)
- Tri-City Animal Shelter (Fremont)
- Valley Humane Society (Pleasanton)
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.
- Rocket Dog Rescue (San Francisco) – Great place to find hounds, but also has a wide variety of breeds.
- Nor Cal Family Dog Rescue (San Francisco) – Has both foster homes and a physical shelter in SF.
- Muttville Senior Dog Rescue (San Francisco) – Specializes in senior dogs.
- Wonder Dog Rescue (San Francisco)
- Grateful Dogs Rescue (San Francisco)
- Asians for Humans, Animals, and Nature (San Francisco)
- One At A Time Rescue (San Francisco) – Specializes in rehabilitations and special needs dogs.
- Companions in Waiting (Half Moon Bay)
- Copper's Dream Rescue (South Peninsula)
- Doggie Protective Services (San Jose)
- South Bay Purebred Rescue (San Jose) – Also has mixed breeds.
- C.A.R.E. Companion Animal Rescue Effort (San Jose)
- St. Francis Animal Protection Society (San Jose)
- Jake's Wish Rescue (San Jose)
- Cal State Dog Rescue (Campbell)
- Dusty Paws Rescue (Castro Valley)
- Home At Last Rescue (Berkeley)
- Hopalong & Second Chance Rescue (Berkeley)
- Tri-Valley Animal Rescue (Pleasanton)
All over Bay Area
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.
- Golden Gate Labrador Retriever Rescue
- NorCal Golden Retriever Rescue
- German Shepherd Rescue of Northern California – Has regular adoption events.
- Bay Area German Shepherd Rescue – Has regular adoption events.
- Golden State German Shepherd Rescue – Has regular adoption events.
- Golden State Greyhound Adoption – Former racing greyhounds. Has regular adoption events.
- Northern California Border Collie Rescue
- Northern California Beagle Rescue
- NorCal German Shorthaired Pointer Rescue
- Rhodesian Ridgeback Rescue of Northern California
- Northern California Bulldog Rescue
- Northern California Irish Setter Rescue
- Bad Rap – Pit bulls. Has regular adoption events, seminars, and classes.
- Bay Area Poodle Rescue
- NorCal Poodle Rescue
- Great Dane Rescue of Northern California
- NorCal Boxer Rescue
- Northern California Weimaraner Rescue
- Northern California Sled Dog Rescue – Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, and other Nordic breeds. Has regular adoption events.
- Our Pack, Inc. – Pit bulls and chihuahuas. Gives obedience training to all dogs and offers free lifetime training to adopters.
- Second Chance Cocker Spaniel Rescue, Inc.
- Golden Gate Basset Rescue
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.
- Wagaroo – Specific 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 Woof – Another 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.)