Here are some of my favorite rescuers of lost, abandoned, neglected and abused animals, along with other relevant resources:


Marin Humane: This is an impressive organization with an army of dedicated volunteers. Located in Novato, Calif., the shelter is “no-kill” and has an active fostering program for dogs and cats waiting for a loving new home. It also is a major participant in animal rescue efforts after such disasters as fires and mudslides.

Marin Humane currently is involved with several U.S. rescue organizations in a program to save dogs from South Korean dog-meat factories. The dogs are flown to American shelters, including Marin’s, where they are rehabbed and placed in good adoptive homes.

I volunteer at Marin Humane, and never cease to be amazed by its caring and competent staff, excellent dog training programs, and community education efforts. (The above photo shows a portion of the beautiful ceramic mural outside the shelter.)




Best Friends Animal Society: Located in the beautiful Red Hills near Kanab, Utah, this sanctuary for domestic animals is the largest in the United States. It rescues and provides a home and adoption help for hundreds of abandoned and abused creatures — dogs, cats, rabbits, pigs, horses, even pet birds. It also promotes protective legislation and initiatives against killing unwanted animals, leading the way to “no-kill” humane shelters across America.

My granddaughter Helen and I volunteered at Best Friends for a few days when she was 12, staying in one of the sanctuary’s cozy cabins and helping out in Dog Town. We walked dogs on desert trails, assisted with feeding and watering, and even had a sleepover in our cabin with a handsome German shepherd named Luke. It was a wonderful experience, one that I hope to repeat someday.




“Lucky Dog” airs on CBS on Saturday mornings, and no other show would have me glued to the TV at that time. (Check your local listings.) The series is hosted by Brandon McMillan, whose life’s work is rescuing shelter dogs and helping them find a forever home, as well as a purpose.

Brandon’s motto is “From hopeless to a home.” He adopts dogs that are on death row in various Los Angeles-area shelters, then takes them to his Lucky Dog Ranch where he socializes them, teaches them basic commands, and trains them to meet the needs of their prospective owners.

The focus is on matching each dog with a person or family that Brandon selects from applicants in the L.A. area. Many of them have touching and sometimes heartbreaking stories. He works patiently and creatively to help the chosen dog gain the skills it needs to make a difference in its new owner’s life.

Raised in a circus family, Brandon understands and loves all animals. His many years of experience allow him to transform “untrainable, unadoptable, and hard-to-love” dogs into forever pets.

“Lucky Dog” has won two Daytime Emmy Awards. I love the show for its big heart, as well as its insights into dog behavior and training.

If Saturday-morning-TV is not your thing, you can watch episodes on the show’s website:

{insert photo of Brandon McMillan}

“Rescue Me, with Dr. Lisa” on The CW cable network, features Australian veterinarian Dr. Lisa Chimes, who also appears on “Dr. Chris, Pet Vet” — another Aussie vet show on CBS.

Dr. Lisa picks two shelter dogs as possibilities for a prospective adoptive family, based on what kind of pet they are looking for. After doing standard behavioral and physical evaluations of the dogs, Dr. Lisa lets the family pick one of the two. She does a followup visit to see how things are going, making suggestions for resolving any issues.

Like “Lucky Dog,” Dr. Lisa’s show suffers from bad scheduling — in most time zones, it runs very early on Saturday mornings. Couldn’t these entertaining and worthwhile shows replace some of those awful prime time “Housewives” dramas? Just asking.


“Pound for Pound” by Shannon Kopp is the touching memoir of Kopp’s battle with bulimia, a devastating condition that was, literally, sending her life down the toilet. It took the unconditional love of several shelter dogs to help Kopp regain her health and find a sense of purpose.

The book includes some lovely photos of the dogs, mostly pit bulls, that Kopp worked to save from being euthanized. The unnamed Los Angeles shelter where she volunteered was overwhelmed with unwanted dogs, and she tried desperately to find homes for those on the “kill” list. In the process, she found a way to love herself as well.

The book sheds light on good and bad animal rescue practices; it also provides insight and inspiration for those suffering from eating disorders. (William Morrow, 2015)



“Will’s Red Coat” by Tom Ryan. I can’t say enough about this book. Ryan tells the story of how he rescued an elderly, disabled miniature schnauzer who suffered with numerous health issues, believing it had only a few months to live. Will had spent most of his life in a crate, and Ryan soon found out that he was completely unsocialized and downright mean.

Hoping to make Will’s final days better than the rest of his life had been, Ryan displayed incredible patience and perseverance as he showered the blind and deaf little dog with care and loving attention. We should all be so lucky in our final days!

The account of Will’s transformation and the gifts he eventually gave back to Ryan and many others, is uplifting and inspirational. Highly recommended. (Wm. Morrow 2018)


Wagster Dog Treats: These all natural treats are handmade in Novato, CA, by Homeward Bound of Marin. The nonprofit organization’s purpose is to help homeless and low-income people gain employment skills; its kitchen produces these high-quality dog treats and sells them online at