Choosing to bring a pet into your home is a big commitment. Luckily, the Denver area is ripe with long-established adoption and rescue organizations that can help you find the right fur-ever friend. Many of these organizations go beyond connecting animals with their new families—they also support Colorado’s pet community with services like spaying and neutering, pet food bank donations, and fostering and volunteering services, so that animal-loving Denverites who can’t yet commit to a full-time pet can still get some furry face time (and good karma).

Here, we’ve rounded up six local organizations to check out, whether you’re looking to adopt a pet or just volunteer your time helping animals in need.

Animal Rescue of the Rockies

Founded in 2003 by a group of friends who wanted to provide an alternative to shelter environments, Animal Rescue of the Rockies is a foster-only nonprofit that has pulled over 10,000 dogs and cats from overcrowded shelters and placed them in permanent homes. ARR works with more than 20 dog foster homes, and just opened a cat-specific adoption center—the Cat Cottage located in Just Cats pet store (7150 Leetsdale Dr., Ste. 402)—in March. They even have a volunteer-run thrift store on Main Street in Breckenridge that’s open seven days and week, with proceeds going toward veterinary services and helping homeless pets.

How to adopt: ARR lists its available dogs and cats online. You must fill out an adoption application, complete a home visit with an ARR volunteer, and pay an adoption fee before bringing your new pet home.

Denver Dumb Friends League

Whether the animals in the Denver Dumb Friends League network come from a pet surrender or cruelty case, they are all given a second chance at life. DDFL is a collaborative nonprofit that partners with other shelters in the Metro Denver Animal Welfare Alliance to provide homes to as many pets as possible. In 2018 alone, 18,271 pets were adopted, reunited with their families, or transferred to one of the organization’s placement partners. In addition to connecting pets to their families, Dumb Friends League offers specialty services, like a horse adoption program and youth camps to help kids learn about animal welfare.

How to adopt: DDFL lists its available animals online. You can also visit the organization’s Quebec Street Shelter or meet adoptable animals at one of their partner Petco or PetSmart stores. Adoption fees and a valid ID are required to adopt a pet.


This foster-only organization is a newer rescue to the Front Range, yet already has a support system of over 300 volunteers. The nonprofit is part of a statewide spay and neuter program, and also partners with Food Bank of the Rockies to offer an ongoing pet food drive, pledging to raise 10,000 pounds of pet food each month to help families and pets in need. They also collaborate with local Denver breweries to host Paws & Pints nights, which are themed events held to raise awareness about the benefits of adoption, and include pet supply collections, specialty pours, and of course, a portion of drink proceeds donated back to PawsCo’s rescue efforts.

How to adopt: After you fill out an application, a member of PawsCo’s adoption team will contact you to set up a meet-and-greet with the pet you’re interested in. You then have 24 hours to decide if the animal is the right fit for your family.

Rocky Mountain Lab Rescue

This volunteer-run nonprofit finds and re-homes Labrador Retriever and Labrador mixes from kill shelters and rural areas out of state. It’s a foster-only rescue that’s been in operation for almost a decade. Rocky Mountain Lab Rescue also offers training tips and veterinary resources for people involved in their foster and adoption programs, and hosts annual community events like the dog-friendly Rocky Mountain Lab Rescue 5K each fall (the 2019 event is scheduled for September 7 at Belmar Park in Lakewood).

How to adopt: You have to fill out an adoption application and be approved by RMLR volunteers before meeting any dogs.

Rocky Mountain Puppy Rescue

We all know that puppies are irresistible. If you are ready to commit to a younger dog, this Berthoud-based rescue should be on your list. All of their puppies and dogs (they have older dogs too) come from kill shelters in Utah, Colorado, and Texas. All dogs over the age of two months are spayed/neutered, and the foster-based rescue is part of the Spay It Forward Alliance, hosting spay and neuter clinics year-round. RMPR also provides vaccines and microchipping. Each year, they host a RMPR Reunion at Union Reservoir in Longmont where pups and humans alike can socialize, swim, and play to their hearts’ content.

How to adopt: RMPR lists its available puppies and dogs online in advance of their weekly meet-and-greets at Petco Arvada. Before heading to the event, check out the website and fill out an adoption application (don’t forget to bring a proof of residency or lease agreement stating that you are allowed to have a pet). At the event, you’ll be taken to meet the puppies on a first-come, first-serve basis. After you make a selection, you pay the fee and leave that day with your new best friend.

Rocky Mountain Feline Rescue

Cat lovers rejoice! This feline-only shelter is the place to go to find a feline friend. Founded in 1982, the free-roaming shelter houses homeless, abandoned, and neglected cats and kittens and provides them with medical care until they are placed. In 2017, RMFR placed over 1,600 cats and kittens. RMFR is also proud to provide a safe space for senior and special need cat populations, like those living with FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) and FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus).

How to adopt: Fill out an adoption application, and take it to the shelter at 2390 S. Delaware St. to meet the available kitties. RMFR’s team will introduce you to cats that fit your criteria or help you find an animal you spotted online. Once your application is approved and you pay the adoption fee, you’ll be able to take your new friend home.

Discover our favorite local products, hikes and more in Dog-Friendly Denver, a dog-lover’s guide to the Mile High City.