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  • Writer's pictureTracy Tristram

Animal shelters in London: where to adopt a dog, cat or small animal

Updated: Oct 21, 2022

Animal shelters in London things to do in london with kids

There are soooo many pooches and kitties out there ready to be pampered and loved, so if you're thinking of opening up your home to a four-legged friend then you need this list of animal shelters in London where you can adopt a dog, a cat, a rabbit or even a horse from.

The Mayhew

Animal shelters in London
Photography: The Mayhew

Founded wayyyyy back in 1856 as “The Home for Starving and Deserted Cats”, these days The Mayhew is run as an animal welfare charity working to improve the lives of dogs and cats and in London communities and internationally. You'll find cats and dogs to adopt of all ages, breeds and sizes. It also has a Community Vet Clinic providing free and low cost veterinary services. Families with children will be considered depending on the criteria of each individual adoption. Not quite ready for adoption? If you live within an hour's journey of The Mayhew then why not give fostering a whirl?

The Mayhew, Trenmar Gardens, London NW10 6BJ

Battersea Dogs and Cats Home

where to adopt a dog in London
Alice looks just like our own GSD and can live with teenage kids. Photography: Battersea

When you think animal shelters in London, Battersea is usually the one that pops into people's heads first. It's been rescuing London's strays since 1860 and has had over 3 million animals through its doors over the decades! If you're interested in adopting a cat or dog from Battersea you will need to fill out an online rehoming application and you'll be contacted accordingly. Families with teenage kids definitely have a better chance than those with young children (including anyone interested in Alice who looks just like our own GSD!), so do check the online rehoming section and read the deets on each animal before you set your heart on a pooch or puss that may not be suitable.

Battersea, 4 Battersea Park Road, SW8 4AA.

Cats Protection

animal shelters in London
Pawgeous Charlie needs a home.

Cats Protection is the UK's largest feline welfare charity, and for nearly 100 years its been busy rehoming over 2 million cats and kittens. With loveable characters like Charlie (based in the Brentwood & Basildon centre) looking to fall on his paws in a new home, this is definitely the purr-fect place to find your new furry friend. Pop your postcode into the 'find a cat' section and it will bring up all the kitties looking for new paw-rents all over London and the 'burbs.

Cats Protection, various locations


animal shelters in London
Adorable Reuben needs a family to love him.

From dogs to horses, rabbits to chinchillas, thousands of animals are rehomed every year across the UK by the Bluecross, and we have Bluecross, Lewisham to thank for bringing our first rescue dog - Jemima - into our lives 20 years ago. She's sadly gone to the big kennel in the sky now, but she lived until she was 14-years-old all because of the Bluecross rescuing her from the streets after a road traffic accident, pulling her through, rehabilitating her and then entrusting her to us. Fur-ever grateful. If it's a smaller animal you would like to adopt then there are plenty of adorable options including Reuben the Bunny, who is suitable for homes with children of any age.

Bluecross, Hadlow College Mottingham Centre, Hadlow College, Mottingham Lane, London SE12 9AW

Lea Valley Dog Rescue

animal shelters in London
Two of our rescues: Luna and Maisie, two street dogs made good. Photography: Tracy Tristram

See our Maisie, smiling on the right? She boarded the Happy Bus from Romania and was adopted into our family three years ago now, and we've all been smiling along with her ever since. (Luna, on the left, is another rescue but she was a Singapore street dog we brought with us when we moved back to the UK: a whole other story!). Maisie was saved from a life of misery by the amazing Lea Valley Rescue team, who work tirelessly every day to help as many strays as they can to find their new families. They often take in puppies, and they are also open to considering families with children of all ages. They don't have a physical shelter as all their rescues are in foster homes, so keep an eye on its Facebook page for regular updates on their adorable furries.

Lea Valley Dog Rescue, online only.

Wood Green The Animals Charity

Animal shelters in London
Guinea Pigs make the cutest pets, but are best kept in pairs as they're super sociable little things.

If you're looking for a dog, cat, guinea pig, ferret or other small animal, then get in touch with Wood Green to see if they have a four-legged friend for you. You'll need to fill in a potential adoption form first and the shelter will contact you with suitable furries if they have a match. It's moved away from its North London beginnings to a purpose-built converted farm in the Cambridgeshire countryside these days, where it houses thousands of animals every year, but it still offers a Pet Collection service which covers North London, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire for owners who need to give up their pets, as well as stray animal intakes.

Wood Green The Animals Charity, Kings Bush Farm, London Road, Godmanchester PE29 2NH

Greyhound Trust

Animal shelters in London
Rosie and Doreen are enjoying their retirement away from the race track: Photography: Tracy Tristram

With shelters dotted all over the UK, including several in and around London, if you're looking for a gentle giant of a dog then a greyhound could be the perfect pooch for your family. We have two greyhounds in our family belonging to London for Kidz grandpawrents: Rosie and Doreen were rescued from the Brentwood branch of the Greyhound Trust and have been lazing on Nanny and Grandad's sofas ever since. Greyhounds make fantastic pets and are suitable for all kinds of families, so whether you work, have children or other animals, all situations are considered individually when it comes to adoption, and with over 800 greyhounds looking for new families at any one time, there is bound to be a dog that's the right fit for you.

Greyhound Trust, various locations

Ann & Bill's Cat and Kitten Rescue

Animal shelters in London
Izzy is busy making herself at home in our lives. Photography: Tracy Tristram

Izzy (pictured) and her brother, Isaac, joined the family recently from Ann & Bill's Cat and Kitten Rescue in Hornchurch and we're feline really excited about this pair of cuties being in our lives. Husband and wife team, Ann and Bill, have been rescuing and rehoming cats and kittens in Essex and London for over 30 years and always have the most gorgeous moggies needing someone to love them. Contact them on 01708 440453 for an appointment.

Ann & Bill's Cat and Kitten Rescue, Hornchurch (call ahead for an appointment)


animal shelters in London things to do in london with kids
Handsome Kuzey is looking for a family with secondary aged kids or older. Photography: RSPCA

Located at centres all across the UK, the RSPCA always has more animals than it has homes for them to go to, so whether you want to adopt a dog, a cat, a horse or even a reptile, have a look at its website, plug your requirements into its search tool and start the ball rolling. Keeping everything crossed for handsome old man Kuzey (pictured)... Sadly he's been overlooked in the shelter for over a year now despite being suitable for homes with secondary school aged children. Who could resist that Akita face?

RSPCA, various locations

Dog's Trust

animal shelters in London
Little Buckle is waiting to meet you.

Harefield in West London is the London branch of Dog's Trust, but if you're out in the 'burbs you'll also find a branch in Basildon, Essex and one in Canterbury, Kent. Mostly its dogs will be suitable for families with secondary school kids and older, so keep an eye on its adoption listings for fluffies like Buckle the small crossbreed who can live with children age 13 years and over, pictured above.

Dog's Trust, various locations

All Dogs Matter

animal shelters in London
Could Alan the bulldog be your new fur baby?

All Dogs Matter is a dog rescue and rehoming charity working in and around London to transform the lives of unwanted and abandoned dogs. It also works tirelessly to rehome dogs in need from overseas. In 2020 All Dogs Matter rescued and rehomed over 300 dogs including pups from Serbia, Portugal and Egypt. Handsome Alan was recently picked up as a stray and is looking for a new home with kids over 12-years.

All Dogs Matter, 30 Aylmer Parade, London, N2 0PE (but do note the dogs are NOT kept at this address)

Catcuddles Sanctuary

animal shelters in London
Lovely May needs a lap to call her own.

Sweet May is looking for a loving home with a family to bring her out of her shy shell. Catcuddles is the result of a devoted pet lover being so inspired by her special-needs feline, Mr Cuddles, that she set up the sanctuary with a team of volunteers in 2012. The charity receives no funding from state or grants and is entirely dependent on donors, the continuous interest of key supporters and its passionate volunteer team.

Catcuddles Sanctuary, London SE2 (by appointment only: get in touch with shelter for full addresss).

South East Dog Rescue and Rehabilitation

animal shelters in London
Who could resist wonderful Winnie?

Just out of town in Greenhithe, Kent, you'll find South East Dog Rescue and Rehabilitation which is run entirely by volunteers. It aims to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome dogs from all over the UK, and currently has some beautiful residents looking for new families to love them, pictured above, is one such resident is beautiful, older lady Winnie who is ready to be rehomed with children age 8+ and described as being incredibly sweet and loving.

South East Dog Rescue and Rehabilitation, Kennels are not open without an appointment so please contact for address.

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