National Rescue Dog Day 2022: What is it and how can you make a difference?

national rescue dog day
(Image credit: Getty Images)

One of our favorite annual events, National Rescue Dog Day is all about raising awareness for the thousands of amazing dogs in rescue shelters across the country who are in desperate need of a loving home.

Some of the most remarkable dogs to walk the earth, rescue dogs have had to overcome a lot of obstacles and because of that, they tend to have incredibly high levels of resilience. 

With the proper love, care and training, rescue dogs can make phenomenal pets, but that's not the only role they excel at. Many of these canine companions also go on to become emotional support dogs, helping those experiencing anxiety, depression and PTSD. 

We can't think of a better event than one that seeks to shine a light on all the beautiful dogs living in shelters who are excitedly waiting to meet their new humans. If you're keen to give one of these pups a 'furever' home or you just want to know how you can get behind this great cause, here's everything you need to know about National Rescue Dog Day.

What is National Rescue Dog Day?

National Rescue Dog Day was founded by Lisa Wiehebrink of Tails That Teach, a non-profit organization that inspires young children to be kind to pets and people.

The day was set up in 2018 and was inspired by Wiehebrink's beloved rescue dog, Cooper, who she rescued from a shelter in 2009 after the pup was found living in a vacant lot. 

“There is something so special about Cooper. He is a gentle giant with a kind soul. His grateful spirit and unconditional love make me believe that he knows he was rescued. It’s for these reasons that I wanted to encourage others to consider adopting a dog from a shelter,” states Lisa. 

Because of his beautiful nature, Cooper became the main character in the Tails That Teach book series that shows children how to be kind and gentle to their pets.

The aim of National Rescue Dog Day is to bring awareness to the countless number of amazing dogs waiting in shelters for their forever home and to recognize all the amazing ways rescue dogs impact human lives. The event also looks to promote humane education for young children, and to encourage spay/neuter. 

What day is National Dog Rescue Day 2022?

Dog in field

(Image credit: alexei_tm/Shutterstock)

National Rescue Dog Day is observed annually on May 20. In 2022, it will fall on Friday, 20 May. 

How can you make a difference on National Rescue Dog Day and beyond?

1. Donate to shelters

There are a few ways you can help a shelter. In addition to financial donations, some shelters have a wish list where you can donate pet supplies such as towels, toys and treats. 

If you'd like to donate to a pet shelter, our friends at Chewy have created Chewy Gives Back, a page that lets you find amazing shelters and other rescue charities in need of donations. 

Simply enter your zip code and you'll be directed to the wish lists of shelters in your local area.

2. Arrange a fundraising event

If you're looking to raise funds for your local shelters, there are a number of fun activities you could do, such as arrange a bake sale, set up a concert or band night, hold a pub quiz or raffle, or set up a themed day at work or school. 

Often, you can also craft items for animals, such as jumpers to keep them warm. Why not start a collection in your community? 

3. Spay / neuter

You can often make the jobs of shelter easier from the comfort of your own home. Ensure your pet is spayed or neutered and look to provide them with collars and a proper ID. Make sure you keep dogs on leashes when off your property.

4. Foster

Foster homes can be lifesavers for pets who can't adapt to shelter life and for those who need a little extra care. 

Without foster homes, many rescue groups simply could not take in as many animals. You can often find information on how to foster an animal by visiting your local charity's website. 

5. Volunteer

If you can't adopt or foster a dog at the moment, why not consider volunteering at your local shelter? This can include dog walking or even cat cuddling. Some skills required you may not have even thought of, such as marketing, social media or even carpentry! 

6. Educate

Teach young children the importance of kindness, unconditional love, and responsible care of all animals. You can visit the Tails That Teach website to discover some great resources to do so, including the book. 

7. Adopt 

If you have room in your life for a new pet, adopting can be so rewarding. There's so many ways you can give a dog a whole new leash of life; including rescuing a dog from abroad and adopting an older dog.

You can search for an available pet by using the Shelter Pet Project, or check your local shelter's website to find your lifelong friend. 

8. Share your own story on social media

If you've rescued a dog from a shelter in the past, now is a great time to share your story on social media. Just remember to use #NationalDogRescueDay so that dog lovers from around the country can meet your pup and read about their life. Who knows, sharing your experience might just inspire someone else to adopt a rescue dog.

Is National Dog Rescue Day the same as National Dog Adoption Day?

National Dog Adoption Day typically takes place in October, and shares a similar theme with National Dog Rescue Day in that it's all about promoting the concept of adopting a dog from a shelter and providing information that both encourages and advises people on how to adopt a dog. 

National Dog Adoption Day is UK-based and organised in conjunction with, while National Dog Rescue Day and Tails That Teach is American.

Ashleigh Gibbs
Digital Editor

Ashleigh is Digital Editor on PetsRadar. With over 8 years of experience in print and digital media, she has acted as an editorial lead on a variety of projects, with animal themes a keen interest. As an avid animal lover, you can often find Ashleigh checking out the newest trends in animal care or looking at cute cat videos on TikTok.