This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Top Rated Pet Charities for 2024

top rated pet charities

Last Updated: March 10, 2022 by Lisa Melillo

Is the welfare of animals near and dear to your heart? If so, you’d be deeply saddened to know that The Humane Society estimates that 2.4 million healthy pets are euthanized every year in the United States due to overpopulation.

Luckily, there are some great charities and pet shelters operating around the country that are working towards saving more pets every year and improving the lives on animals.

Here’s a list of the best ways you can help dogs and cats, along with the best pet charities for 2021 that will put your money to work saving pets lives!

pet shelter cat charity

Support Your Local Shelter

There are over 13,000 animal shelters in the United States, with over 7 million pets entering into them every year. These shelters are almost entirely non profits that rely on volunteers, adoption fees, and donations in order to keep their doors open and operating.

Often it’s easiest to make the biggest impact when you start local. You’ll also get the added benefit of seeing a direct impact that you’re making, whereas donating to a nationwide charity won’t give you an immediate effect.

The best ways to help your local shelter is by doing one of the following 3 things –

  1. Adopt a pet! If you’re like us, you’d adopt every pet at the shelter if you could! We know that everyone has their limits and you don’t want to take on more than you can handle, but if you have room in your home for another pet, it would certainly help your shelter free up room to save another pet.
  2. Volunteer! Just about every shelter is in need of volunteers to do everything from answer the phone, clean the pets living quarters, walk dogs, and more. If you can give time, it will make everything run better at the shelter.
  3. Donate! Look up how to donate to your local shelter, this information can usually be found on their website or by calling them. Most shelters are non-profits, so you can get a tax break for your donation. Some shelters may also accept goods such as food, blankets, or even toys such as dog ball launchers to keep the dogs occupied!
walking dogs charity

Top Rated Pet Charities 2021

To determine which charities would make the list of our best charities for pets, we used the following criteria –

  • Programs focused largely on cats and dogs.
  • Programs with a large, nationwide reach.
  • Excellent ratings from charity watchdog groups, Charity Navigator and Charity Watch.
  • Reasonable President/Executive compensation.

Charity Navigator rates on a “out of 100” scale, whereas Charity Watch uses a letter grade system (F to A+).

Here’s a list of the top rated charities in the United States that focus on the welfare of pets.

Animal Friends

Charity Navigator Rating – 94.54

Charity Watch – N/A

Executive Director Compensation – $138,102

Animal Friends is near and dear to my our hearts because this is where we rescued one of our dogs from and the experience was exemplary for what a dog rescue shelter should be. Animal Friends takes pet adoption very seriously, as they should since adding a new pet to the home should be a lifelong commitment. If you have other pets in the home, they require the two pets to meet before they can be adopted out as to avoid any potential conflicts that would lead to the pet returning to a shelter.

We found the staff to be very knowledgeable to matching us with a dog that fits our needs as well, and overall they cared a lot about getting the best outcome for everyone involved.

Here’s a glamour shot of our adopted girl!


PetSmart Charities

petsmart charities

Charity Navigator Rating – 94.20

Charity Watch – A+

Executive Director Compensation – not compensated

PetSmart Charities focuses exclusively on ending pet homelessness in the United States. The achieve this through adopting pets out of their PetSmart locations and funding spay/neuter programs.

If your biggest goal in your donation is to end pet homelessness, then PetSmart Charities is the most direct way to fund that specific goal.


redrover charity

Charity Navigator Rating – 96.93

Charity Watch – B+

President Compensation – $115,370

RedRover is best described as a charity there to help pets and owners in times of crisis. Their RedRover Responders program shelters and cares for animals displaced by events like natural disasters, criminal seizures, and hoarding cases.

They also have a RedRover Relief program with provides financial help and resources for pets when their owners are going through economic hardship.

Animal Welfare Institute

animal welfare institute

Charity Navigator Rating – 92.92

Charity Watch – A+

President Compensation – $100,356

The Animal Welfare Institute has a lot of great programs aimed at helping dogs and cats including preventing pets from being used in research facilities, educating and legislating to prevent dogs from being chained up outside all of their lives, banning steel traps which pets can wander into, ending the dog meat trade, and ending puppy mills.

With so many great programs and an excellent charity rating, Animal Welfare Institute is sure to put your donation to good use.

Alley Cat Allies

alley cat allies logo

Charity Navigator Rating – 93.89

Charity Watch – N/A

President Compensation – $172,913

Alley Cat Allies is a charity focused around improving the lives of all cats, indoors and outdoors. Some of their policies include an advocacy program that believes cats are better off to live outside without a permanent home than be brought in a shelter to be put down. They do advocate a trap-neuter-return program which lets cats continue to live outdoors without exploding the homeless population.

They have many other programs all focused on improving the lives of cats including spay/neuter programs, disaster response, and anti-cruelty. If you hold cats near and dear to your heart, this is a great charity to support that cause directly.

Friends of Animals

friends of animals

Charity Navigator Rating – 87.10

Charity Watch – A

President Compensation – $109,186

Friends of Animals was founded in 1957 and works towards ending the exploitation of animals. One of their biggest programs is their spay/neuter program which partners with 700 veterinarians across 34 states. Through this program, they have done over 2.5 million procedures to help combat pet overpopulation!

Friends of Animals also works to expose and bring an end to puppy mills which exploit pets for money making purposes.

Any Way You Can Help…

There are over 80 million pet owners in the United States! If we all chip in and do our part to improve the welfare of pets in our wonderful country, we can make an enormous effect on the welfare of pets.

Regardless of which charity you decide to donate to or volunteer for, you can proudly do so knowing that you’re making a direct and positive impact on the lives of all pets, present and future.

Once you find the perfect new dog to add to your life, we suggest feeding them fresh dog food such as The Farmer’s Dog or NomNomNow.

46 thoughts on “Top Rated Pet Charities for 2024”

  1. Stacy McKinnon-Lake

    Every single top charity you listed, with the exception of pets mart, is directed by a greedy human compensated with well over $100,000/pa That’s ludicrous money and clearly shows where most of the monies donated goes! If it’s the grading organizations that need to change then advocate for that, but that’s an absolutely ridiculous salary when the average salary of an American charity director is $55,000! Yours listed are making twice that! No way am I trusting any of your list! Shame on you! Shame on these charities!

    1. Peter G.

      Stacy, I am making close to $80k with nothing but a bachelors and a few years learning a particular in-demand skill. $100k is pennies for a director, especially a competent one at that. Please stick to helping rather than shaming as it only exposes you as moralizer with nothing better to contribute than your own judgment and opinion. If you haven’t noticed such types are a dime a dozen in our current society.

      Thank you for your list Woof Whiskers! It has helped me determine where to send my monthly donation.

      1. I support 2 animal charities that are great. Wildcat Sanctuary in MN. I sponsor a tiger named Marcus. Also Blind Cat Rescue and Sanctuary. They also have separate housing for leukemia positive cats who cannot be with healthy cats. Cats pass it to others. Wildcat keeps me informed at least weekly with updates on everything. Blind Cat has won money and prizes because people who know them ,vote for them. They know Alana is great (the founder). We bred and showed Russian Blues for years. We know and love cats. Please look into those charities.



      While I agree that in most of these animal charitable organizations, (not just the ones listed here) the vast amount of money donated goes to executives and not for the welfare of the animals. There are a few however, that are run by honest, compassionate people. The ASPCA who is familiar to many, actually spends a meager 38 cents on a dollar toward the care for animals. The WWW on the other hand, spends 90 cents per dollar.One must be extremely careful and do much research to be sure that your money is spent where it should be. I don’t know much and never even heard of most of them except Pet smart. My opinion of them is that they sucks. What kind of care is given to these puppies, who are basically caged and viewed through a window, for hours and hours a day. Like a product on a shelf. I have yet to discover the truth but have heard that the dogs come from puppy mills. I hurt for the things these animals endure because people like myself and perhaps you may be able to find other ways to help or find honest, caring organizations. Let’s help and may you be blessed. Sincerely

      1. Donald Amico

        I, too, have heard bad things about Pet Smart and Puppy Mills. A lot of these comments, pro and con, leave me undecided. I tried to search for shelters that spend more on the animals than the executives. Still not sure though. Some of the results I found were published by the shelters themselves. Of course they’re not going to say anything bad about themselves.

        1. Sandra DesFosses

          I volunteered at PetSmart for almost a decade. There are NO DOGS kept in cages in our Pet Smart except when there is an adoption event going on. THOSE dogs come from our local sheletr and NOT puppy mills as you suggest. The cats ARE kept there in a glass enclosure with a warm bed, food/water and litter box, as well as toys. There is someone from the local shelter/volunteer who comes in 2-3 times a day to socialize, feed, assist with adoptions and care for the cats. PetSmart ALSO provides this space for free as well as litter/food/treats and even beds and toys at time. They are a VERY generous company. So before you go making up stories I suggest you speak to the manager, volunteer at the shop or your local shelter. You know not what you speak of.

          1. June Mcwilliam

            What you said is the truth!

      2. Emily Walters

        What exactly is the WWW if you don’t mind me asking?

    3. I’m with Stacy McKinnon-Lake. I volunteered for Alley Cat Allies and the CEO and COO actually use donations to travel, buy houses and to develop more projects to receive donations. They are money driven and they DO NOT help ANY cats at all! I was a constant at their offices from 2013-2017.

    4. Lisa Morrison

      Second Chance Rescue. Located in North Brookfield MA. They are a wonderful organization which could always use the help!

    5. Cindy Tresley

      I am trying to find an animal charity where 100% of my donation would benefit animals. I am looking for a volunteer-based charity that does not pay administrators.

    6. Justin thorison

      I agree with Stacy McKinnon. Most people make less than half that of the CEOs listed. But we are donating our hard earned money to save animals. Disgusting. I’ll continue to donate to volunteer based organizations. I live in Milwaukee. Maddacc seems to be good.

      1. Let’s put donations and salaries in perspective. Instead of giving your HARD EARNED MONEY why don’t you try donating 40 hours a week. Then see how much time you have left after giving 40 hours per week to then go earn a living to pay for groceries, rent, car, doctors, child care…
        Most administrators work more like 60+ hours a week, that is if they are capable of accomplishing anything close to what a nonprofit requires to function. Most have to live in a medium sized city where rents in a middle class neighborhood are are $1500 and up for a 1- 2 bedroom.
        Many have to live in a city like NYC, Chicago, LA or DC. At $100K they would barely classify as lower middle class. Do you donate $55,0000 to $100,000 a year to charities? That’s what you are asking an administrator to do.
        Focus on what a charity specifically accomplishes, the % per dollar that goes toward things other than employee compensation, what is their mission and their record for accomplishing that mission.

    7. Stacy, running these orgs is a lot of responsibility, and a lot of heartache. These people decided to use their efforts to help animal organizations, and to have a compensation to sustain one through it is fair.

      Why are you here? Why don’t you complain about baseball players who make 20 million dollars a year to hit a ball with a bat? I think your time would be better spent elsewhere. There is plenty of unfair compensation, I suggest you use your time more wisely.

  2. Hope Carson

    Interested in organizations that could find homes for my pets in case something happens to me. I live in Las Vegas, NV.
    Thank you,
    Hope Carson

  3. I am trying to donate to a charity for animals, do you have any non-killing charities? I’m trying to make a diffrance, I hope you will help me! Thank you!

    — STAR

    1. Carol Newman

      Cat house on the Kings is a non profit rescue near Sacramento, CA. Check out their website and the wonderful work they do.

  4. I must agree with the person who commented on what the CEO’s of these charities make, except Pet Smart, which is definitely one I will donate to. They should be focused on the animals, not getting rich from donations.

    1. Mary I’m hoping you mean you WILL NOT donate to Pet Smart. The typical director (NOT CEO) level salary is $150,000k.,17.htm

      For anyone curious about salaries you can visit – these are salaries reported by the employees actually making them.

      A salary of 100,000k is peanuts compared to what most CEOs in the US make. I know it may seem exorbitant to the average person who may even be making less than minimum wage. But please remember that if you are making less than minimum wage it is not the fault of a CEO ,who is only making $100k. You need to turn your anger towards the uber rich 1%’ers like Jeff Bezos and ask why they make $1.68 MILLION dollars. The work that the ceo’s of these top rated animal charities do completely justifies what they are making.

  5. Lilia Robberts

    There are so many stray animals around my neighborhood, and it makes me feel so bad! Lately I have been trying to think of ways I can help these animals, and ALL animals. I love how PetSmart Charities focus on ending homelessness for animals in the United States! Seeing that all animals have homes is so important to me. I also want animals to have food, water, love, and essential things like leashes, collars, and toys. I want to look into getting collars for all animals so that they know they are owned and loved.


    I agree with Stacy, to “earn” over $100k to sit behind a desk, pushing papers and telling people what to do is ridiculous!!!
    The folks out in the field getting their hands dirty, their hearts broken seeing the abhorrent conditions are doing the real work and they do it out of LOVE not $$$!!

    1. You ignorant child. you have no idea — none — how these charities work. Successful charities like each of these, scoring so highly on the integrity scale, require every single staff person to “get their hands dirty.” I guarantee you that each of the presidents you denigrate work longer hours each week than you do in a month. These are all talented, highly skilled people do valuable work that you couldn’t begin to understand. They have to raise money which is a complicated task, they have to manage paid and volunteer staff, they have to set the goals for the organization and keep it on track, they have to make sure all the bills are paid or no one of the staff who along with the president do all the hard work that you claim to value (or do you?) will get paid. And thus the work won’t get done and the lives of dogs and cats won’t be saved, and new families won’t be brought together, and animals will suffer. How’d you like to live with that burden? It’s as hard as running a business, with all the risks and unknowns, except that animals’ lives depend on them! Besides, these days, $100,000 is truly not as much money as you think, especially since these folks often have to live in places where the cost of living is higher than it is where your double wide is located.

  7. carmen

    I AM sitting here,,,,,,,,,,,looking for several days now where to donate my effort,I have no family so my choice are the animals,,,,,,its been harder than ever,,,I USED TO HAVE ASPCA withdraw every month but I started questinning several things the ceo makes more than500 thousand as we as the ceo of humane society,,using the suffering of the no voice makes me feel like vomiting, NOW I CHECK FIRST sad that the coincidence is with the greedy community, from me 0 they stole too much from the animals and from me, the greed their creed

  8. Holly Van Kehrberg

    I have twin boys turning 8 this month. We are having a large party and in lieu of gifts for the boys we are requesting supplies that can be donated to local shelters/rescues. I really want to find a (or a few) rescues or shelters that could really use our donations (of course I understand all shelters want and need donations)and am struggling on how to figure this out. Looking for assistance. Thank you so much.

  9. G.Tomlin


    Salaries should be kept at a minimum- 100,000.00is an ridiculous amount – I should be so lucky!!!!!!!!!!.

    Are we crazy–or are people without feelllings.

    1. Ann Baker

      Let’s put donations and salaries in perspective. Instead of giving your HARD EARNED MONEY why don’t you try donating 40 hours a week. Then see how much time you have left after giving 40 hours per week to then go earn a living to pay for groceries, rent, car, doctors, child care… Most administrators work more like 60+ hours a week, that is if they are capable of accomplishing anything close to what a nonprofit requires to function. Most have to live in a medium sized city where rents in a middle class neighborhood are are $1500 and up for a 1- 2 bedroom. Many have to live in a city like NYC, Chicago, LA or DC. At $100K they would barely classify as lower middle class. Do you donate $55,0000 to $100,000 a year to charities? That’s what you are asking an administrator to do. Focus on what a charity specifically accomplishes, the % per dollar that goes toward things other than employee compensation, what is their mission and their record for accomplishing that mission.

  10. 1. Petsmart and Petsmart Charities ARE NOT THE SAME THING.
    2. $100,000 is not that much when you get through taxes, bills, insurances, and so forth. And depending on where you live in the country that puts you barely in a small 1 bedroom apartment. Most jobs at that level mean working 60 – 70 hours or more a week and still working even on vacations periodically throughout the day with less job security and far more stress.
    3. There is a lot of ignorance on how managing things work.

  11. Candi Thomas

    I support charities as long as they are making a difference. Puppy mills still exist even after all the money donated and under cover exposure. My question is why do they still exists after all this time, research, money and proven affects it has on animals? You have to contact your local congressman in your state and jurisdiction and file a complaint and keep on it!!! You should get a response but that’s the beginning and don’t get discouraged by the politics or give up! Keep at it and use social meeting, newspapers, local radio stations and your local TV news station to make a difference.

    Animal cruelty owners need to be exposed and STOPPED! Too much time has been wasted in getting anything done. We are the voice for these innocent creatures…

    1. Candi is exactly right, donations are important but political pressure from locals really counts! But we must be a squeaky wheel.
      Start an email campaign to your politician/s.
      Not a petition, get the office email and have everyone you know who cares send an email daily. Clog their inbox. That makes a big impression fast. Then follow up with conversations, office visits, town halls…

  12. Robert

    Stacy, G Tomlin, I suggest you do your homework before you make such statements, it makes you sound ignorant. The amount of work and responsibility it takes to run an organization, many of whom are volunteers, is extraordinary. They are running the business, directing hundreds of others, budgeting, developing business plans, strategy, raising money, leading others… $100,000 is average pay for middle management. I’m not sure where your frame of reference is or what decade it’s from, but $100K is average for an assistant manager of a Walmart… this person is responsible for a whole lot more than that, and talented, results-driven people need to be fairly compensated. Not sure you have thought about how that leader is supposed to pay for his/her house, feed and educate a couple of children, have at least one reliable car, and maybe have a few dollars left over to fund his/her retirement? Do you think they should vow to live in poverty or have nothing set aside for retirement? People with the skills needed to run a pet charity can easily earn twice that, but choose to earn less because it’s a calling, just like a teacher or police officer. So stop bad-mouthing these leaders, most of them are working very hard for that $100,000 and could be earning more but their heart is in the right place (most of them at least).

    1. E. M. Levering

      I agree with you, Robert! It seems the folks commenting on these compensation packages truly “don’t know what they don’t know,” as the saying goes. In addition to your above stated comments regarding the cost of living, and how quickly the salary dwindles due to normal monthly expenses, people should be reminded that CEO’s, directors, and any range of management (lower to upper) requires at least a bachelors degree, so unless you were lucky enough to either pay for college as you went, or had college paid for you, one might expect to add on student loans…and there goes a big chunk of monthly monies right there! I have a bachelors and a masters degree, and my student loans, along with my husbands (in combination) are upwards of 200k. And no, we aren’t doctors, lol!

  13. Timothy Robinson

    What is the best place to donate for dogs? I don’t want my donations all to go for salaries. I understand some comes off the top but not more than 59%

  14. Joyce Smith

    Need to know the place place to donate for dogs
    That do the most for the dogs No kill shelters too

  15. Zoltan Batigue

    You are absolutely right, Victoria. People making these comments are more concerned about their resentment and envy of anybody who seems to be making more than them than about the animals. The wealthier a society is, the better off its animals are. And in a wealthy societies have some people make more money than others. Get over it. Ask what the organization is actually doing for the animals.

  16. Howard

    I don’t blame some of these posters and their concerns. Humans are greedy and destroy everything they touch. Big bucks just enhance greed.

    People want their money to go count towards something important to them, which is helping animals, not line pockets making someone else rich.

  17. I agree. Humans destroy everything they touch, either consciously, or unconsciously.
    I don’t have much, but what I do have, I worked very hard for so I want my hard earnings to go for the animals. Is that too much to ask?

    1. CJ,
      So you’re saying they HAVEN’T worked hard for their money?

  18. When it comes right down to it, what organization has the best interest of animals and the least to the salaries of the execs? I was a Human Resources Mgr. I understand that intelligent, skilled and caring people should be paid but their salaries should not be exorbitant! That would be greedy and uncaring to the animal’s lives. I would only support non-kill shelters.

  19. Erin reese

    Please email me a charity that goes to the animals themselves in Houston Texas where I can donate my car. Thank you, Erin

    1. Just saw this comment but you can donate your car to the Houston Humane Society. If you don’t want to donate to that organization you can Google ‘where to donate car for animal welfare in Houston Texas’. Hope that helps & that’s really nice of you!! 🙂

  20. Lynda Garibaldi

    Looking for charities and foundations that fund cat rescues

  21. Linda Campbell

    I think it would be wise to understand that someone who is managing a charity that receives millions of dollars in donations each year, should be well compensated, as there is considerable responsibility in managing funds, volunteers, paid employees, and day to day operations including massive rescues, as well as they should be of good character. To get good people to do a good job, it makes sense to pay $100,000-$150,000 annually based on experience in charity management. I’m sure there are some who are abusing the system, but those should be dealt with by the board of directors. Not all managers/directors have bad intentions or embezzle from their charity.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top