The best pet rescue shelters in Canberra

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Mr Smiggle joined the Region Media office staff from the RSPCA. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

If your family is ready to welcome a furry friend into the home, why not make a real difference in the life of a rescue?

Rescuing an animal from a shelter is one of the best ways to find yourself a pet. From puppies to older dogs, kittens and cats, even ferrets and rabbits and mice, you’re sure to find the perfect pal for your living situation all the while giving an animal the loving forever-home they deserve.

To help you with your search for your new best friend, we’ve compiled a list of Canberra’s best pet rescue shelters. So, without further ado, let’s jump right into it.

What makes a great pet rescue shelter?

Not sure what to look for when seeking out a rescue dog shelter in the Canberra area? No worries. Start by keeping an eye out for the following traits:

  • Ethical practices. First and foremost, it’s vital to work with a shelter that treats the animals with the care and respect they deserve.
  • The right kinds of animals for your family. Maybe you’re exclusively looking for a young puppy you can train yourself. Or perhaps you’d like a rabbit for something lower maintenance, or an older cat who you’d like to give a second chance at life. Whatever your preferences, look for a shelter that rescues the types of animals best suited to your household.
  • Microchips and vaccinations. When rescuing a dog or a cat especially, look for a shelter that ensures all animals are micro-chipped and vaccinated before they are passed on to their new owners. It’s also important to make sure that the shelter promises to provide you with your new pet’s medical history upon adoption.

The best pet rescue shelters in Canberra

RiotACT’s editorial team has combed through 20 years of on-site comments to compile a list of the most recommended businesses according to you.

To be listed in our Best of Canberra series, each business needs to have consistently received positive feedback on RiotACT and Facebook as well as maintaining a minimum average of 4/5 stars on Google.

Let’s introduce the best three places in the region for rescue dogs according to you, Canberra’s locals.

ACT Rescue & Foster

The team behind ACT Rescue & Foster protect abandoned dogs in Canberra and the surrounding regions from euthanasia by fostering them in their own homes. They do whatever it takes to give each and every dog the life they deserve to live. Adopt from ACT Rescue & Foster and free up much-needed space for other at-risk dogs to be rescued.

Queanbeyan Pound

The council-run Queanbeyan Pound is a great dog rescue option for those looking to help safeguard the wellbeing of local dogs that have not been claimed by past owners. All animals come de-sexed, vaccinated, microchipped, wormed, and treated for fleas – all that’s left to do is show your new furry friend some love.

As Facebook user Lynda Thistleton writes in their review, "I adopted a guinea pig from Queanbeyan pound. Great service from staff, and I’ve been there a couple times prior for looking at dogs (...) and they were very helpful."

Flossie’s Kitten Rescue

Flossie’s Kitten Rescue is run by cat-lover Flossie, who, with the help of a network of vets, works hard to rescue, rehabilitate, and rehome kittens out of her own home. She guarantees that all cats, once adopted, come socialised, house-trained, vaccinated, microchipped and desexed.

‘Local Guide’ Jess Kull writes in their Google review, Flossie's is a wonderful cat/kitten rescue. If Flossie could rescue every cat/kitten.....she would. (…) All kittens/cats are well socialised before the are up for adoption, health checked and are kept in a clean loving healthy environment. I have adopted my two boys from Flossie and I definitely recommend her and her team, if you are looking to adopt a cat or kitten.”


Having recently celebrated its 60th birthday, the RSPCA ACT is one of the most trusted names in animal welfare and pet rescue – including dog rescue. The national website allows you to browse pets who are up for adoption across the country - what’s more, when you pay your adoption fee, you can rest easing knowing your money is making a real difference in the lives of abandoned and injured animals.

As 'Local Guide' Clare writes in their Google review, "I am so glad that these animals are surrounded by such loving and caring staff everyday. You can tell they all get joy from seeing an animal go home to a caring family. I adopted my kitten from here I could not fault the service or the staff."

Canberra Pet Rescue

Canberra Pet Rescue is a registered non-profit charity group of volunteers who have dedicated their time to rescuing impounded, surrendered, and abandoned cats and kittens across Canberra. They believe that no matter how they came into the world or they have been treated while they’re here, every can and kitten is given the chance to find a loving forever home.

As Kim Dickson writes on Facebook, Just brought home my little boy Twilight. He’s house trained, vaccinated, wormed & desexed all covered in the price. CPR carer has socialized him beautifully & he’s a real smoocher! Doing a fantastic job for these poor homeless bubs. Highly recommend.”

There’s a lot that comes with providing the best care for your pet. Check out our articles on the best dog groomers, the best vets, the best emergency after-hours vets, the best dog trainers, the best pet shops and pet supplies and the best pet insurance for more helpful information on Canberra’s best pet services.

If you’re interested in finding somewhere for your pet to stay whilst you’re on holiday, our articles on Canberra’s best dog walkers and pet sitters, best dog boarding kennels and catteries, and best doggy daycares may be helpful.

Your experience with pet rescue shelters in Canberra

Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback, if you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.

Have you adopted a rescue animal? Which shelter did you visit? Share your experience in the comments section below.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it free to adopt a pet?

No, there is an adoption fee. However, this fee covers the cost of microchipping the animal, as well as any basic medical expenses. Adoption fees generally sit somewhere between $200 and $800.

Why is adopting a pet better than buying one?

One of the biggest reasons why adopting is better than buying is that you are potentially saving a life. While shelters and rescues provide a crucial service to society by rescuing and caring for abandoned, surrendered, or neglected animals, far too many animals will never leave the shelter. The other reason to adopt is to avoid supporting unethical breeders, who often sell incredibly unhealthy animals at exorbitant prices.

Do shelters vaccinate pets before giving them away?

Yes. The vast majority of pet shelters have vaccine and medical protocols for new rescues and will provide you with a full medical history of your new pet upon adoption.

What is the process for adopting a pet?

The standard process for adopting a pet will involve an application, a first visit with the animal, and a cooling off period to ensure that you are certain about taking on the responsibility of a pet. Once you’ve decided to go ahead, you will pay an adoption fee, and the shelter will provide you with all relevant medical documentation for the animal and you’ll be able to take your new best friend home!

Can I adopt a pet other than a cat or a dog?

Yes! If dogs or cats aren’t quite your speed, check out the RSPCA’s small animal adoption page. They have pets such as rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets and birds up for adoption as well as cats and dogs.

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Australian Koolie Rescue is also based just outside Canberra and has retired working dogs and unsuccessful working dogs for rehoming. They have a page on Facebook.

I’d be happy to adopt a dog who’s owner has had to go into a home or hospital or something similar.

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