If you and your family are thinking of getting a pet, there are countless homeless animals in need of love, companionship and medical care. A shelter could be the place you find your new furry best friend.

Laura Linneman, director of Animal Care for St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center says that when families visit them, they try their best to make sure they end up with the right pet for them. “The counselor will act as a matchmaker to help find an appropriate pet for what the family is looking for,” she says. “They will also help give any educational materials the adopters might need to set them and the new pet up for success after adoption.”

When visiting a shelter, ask if the staff microchip, spay or neuter, vaccinate or provide medical attention after adoptions. Also be sure to ask about the animal you’re interested in’s medical, temperament and behavioral issues.

Keep in mind that pet retention is important. The pandemic increased the number of pets that were adopted, but also increased the number of pets that were abandoned or returned to shelters.

“When making adoption matches, we always hope it will be for the life of the pet,” says Linneman. “Living situations and lifestyle situations change in a person’s life, many are beyond their control, and it might require them to rehome their pet. That is okay and we do not judge that. Our hope is that an owner does everything within their abilities to keep a pet, but sometimes unexpected life changes prevent that from happening.”

If you are unable to follow the “Adopt, Don’t Shop” mantra, make sure you visit a reputable pet shop or a licensed breeder to ensure the animals are being treated ethically and humanely. Linneman recommends using Petfinder or AdoptaPet during your search.

“You should get references, be able to see where the animal lives before purchase and learn about their health and breed genetics if you should choose to purchase an animal from an ethical breeder,” she says.

Below, is a list of shelters and rescue centers around the state so you can find the fit that’s right for your family.

Northern New Jersey

Eleventh Hour Rescue
Morris County
“Their only crime is they’re out of time” is the slogan of this rescue group. This primarily volunteer run, no-kill rescue saves animals on Death Row from high-kill shelters. Whether in foster homes, the kennel or adoption centers, each dog and cat receive a clean and safe living environment, fresh food and water, medical attention and an abundance of care. The thrift shop operates out of the Roxbury Mall on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Father John’s Animal House
Established in 1999 by a member of the clergy, this Sussex County community animal shelter now has the capacity to safely and responsibly place over 600 animals each year. Each animal is fully vetted, spayed or neutered, vaccinated and microchipped prior to leaving for their adoptive home.

Home for Good Dog Rescue
Berkeley Heights
More than 10,000 dogs have been adopted out. Or, you can choose to foster a pup. Grooming services are offered as well. Be sure to visit the 2022 Woofstock Festival and not only meet HFG alums and foster families, but enjoy two days of live music, Battle of the Bands, food, demos and even more pet adoptions, Sept. 10-11!

New Jersey South Hills Pet Rescue
On a freezing cold day in March 2018, Vicky, a helpless dog found living on a pile of garbage, was brought to a shelter in Newark. In need of medical attention, training and love, NJSH Pet Rescue welcomed her into their care. Vicky was adopted by a wonderful family and that is how she became the face of NJSH, and the first of 35 dogs pulled from the Newark shelter in its first year. The goal is to be a resource for local shelters and owner surrenders in New Jersey, plus from Texas, North Carolina, Mississippi and Louisiana.

Northstar Pet Rescue
This volunteer-based, 501(c)(3) all breed animal rescue focuses on saving at-risk dogs from overcrowded animal shelters. Look for the dogs during adoption days at Pupcakes & Pawstries as well as at the Denville and Boonton farmers markets – plus there will be a booth set up at Boonton Day on Sept. 25! And then, check out A Celebration of Pets on Oct. 2 to have even more fun taking part in animal-based activities, crafts, pet blessings and more!

St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center
Madison Adoption Center, Madison
North Branch Center, North Branch
Noah’s Ark Center, Ledgewood
The Madison location is open for adoptions daily on a walk-in basis during certain hours. St. Hubert’s is dedicated to the humane treatment of animals, supporting the human-animal bond and seeking to foster an environment in which people respect all living creatures.
Through Aug. 12 you can enter the Pet Calendar and Photo Contest.


Central New Jersey

All Fur One Pet Rescue & Adoptions
Silverton section of Toms River
Pre-approved adopters may schedule virtual or in-person meet-and-greets
This volunteer-run pet rescue and 2,300-square-foot adoption center provides a temporary loving home for rescued pets. Some of the amenities include a Volunteers Lounge with snacks and coffee, indoor playroom and outdoor playspace for pups, and large free roaming suites filled with toys and perches for kittens.
Visit the Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten for a pet adoption day on Aug. 10 as All Fur One Pet Rescue & Adoptions will bring cats and cats of all breeds and sizes who are in need of “furever” homes. Pre-approvals for same day adoptions may be provided. Aside from adoptable animals there will be music, giveaways, raffles and a donation station.

Hamilton Twp. Animal Shelter & Adoption Center
Hamilton Twp.
The shelter offers beautiful, loving dogs and cats looking for loving families. Visit during the hours of operation to see the adoptable pets in person. Right now the shelter is at capacity so fosters and adopters are badly needed.

Jersey Girls Animal Rescue
South Plainfield
Rosemary Petriello began her rescue group in 2012 after losing her job. While unemployed, she saw a Facebook page dedicated to death row puppies, and within a few months she established a way to battle the euthanization of unwanted and abused pets. Since founding the organization, Petriello has rescued thousands of dogs and cats with the help of volunteers. Most animals come from North Carolina, and some are from South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee.

Karma Cat + Zen Dog Animal Rescue
Through the Pawsitive Impact Project, Karma Cat + Zen Dog offers resources to provide food and medical care for pets in underserved communities; identifies veterinarians or other organizations providing low-cost medical services; holds local adoption events; supplies grant programs to assist with the cost of food, adoption fees and medical services; and provides educational materials and programs on topics such as TNR and trapping programs, children’s educational programs, pet care and first aid.

Loving Hands Cat Rescue
South River
This non-profit no-kill cat rescue is seeking volunteers. Don’t miss their tricky tray auction on Oct. 16, where you can browse tons of gift baskets with proceeds benefitting the organization’s medical fund.

Marty’s Place Senior Dog Sanctuary
Upper Freehold Twp.
Though not a typical pet adoption center, Marty’s Place Senior Dog Sanctuary provides a safe, loving and protected environment for senior dogs that do not have homes. Residents are older – age 7 or beyond – and receive the physical and emotional comfort, companionship and enrichment they need to thrive in their golden years.

Monmouth County SPCA
There are many animals to choose from, from dogs and cats to “small and furry.” The SPCA also offers veterinary services as well as shelter services.

New Beginnings Animal Rescue
East Brunswick
Located inside Edgebrook Animal Hospital, New Beginnings has an adoption center and also a pet food bank.

North Brunswick Humane Association
North Brunswick
This board-led organization is known for its fundraising flea market in June, plus its popular adoption events, such as Super Cat Adoption Day, and the Dog Walk-a-Thon & Adoption Day which will be held this year on Sept. 25. They partner with other adoption agencies in the area.

Sammy’s Hope Animal Welfare & Adoption Center
Dogs and cats are available for adoption, but you can also help out by sponsoring events, sponsoring kennels or even donating a vehicle.

Wilma’s Orphans
This canine orphanage is a one-woman operation, finding pets their second, third or sometimes even fourth forever home after she retired from the business world. There are a variety of dog breeds, mixes, sizes, shapes, sexes, ages and colors.

Southern New Jersey

Homeward Bound Pet Adoption Center
It’s kitten season! Over the next few months, staff will focus their efforts on saving lives of fragile, homeless and at-risk kittens.

Voorhees Animal Orphanage
Serving most of southern New Jersey, the animal orphanage has various dogs and cats waiting for a new home. They have saved more than 36,000 pet lives since opening in 1988 – including more than 2,200 last year alone! And make sure to check out Woofstock on Sept. 24, an adoption event and fundraiser that includes music, food trucks, dog demos and of course, adoptions!

Keep in mind, most adoption centers are non-profit organizations and volunteer-run, so feel free to help out or make a donation, even if you’re not bringing home a furry friend.