National Rescue Dog Day 2024 Date, Origin, and Ways to Celebrate

Written by Alanna Davis
Published: December 8, 2023
Share on:


Those who have adopted a dog from a shelter or rescue know the profound impact it has. Not only are you making a huge difference in the dog’s life, but you’re also easing the burden of the rescue workers and making the world a better place. Whether you’ve rescued a dog before, or you’re just passionate about animal welfare, National Rescue Dog Day is for you!

When’s the Best Time to Adopt?

dog and owner

Over 4,000,000 dogs are adopted on average each year.


According to PETA, rescues fill up most often after the holidays, when “present” pets are returned. They state that, “by January, many of those ‘present’ animals will have joined the more than six million who enter shelters in the U.S. every year. Some animal shelters even get in on the craze, offering discounted or free adoptions and encouraging people to give animals away as gifts. Their intentions may be good, but they likely don’t realize that they’re exacerbating the homeless-animal crisis.” In addition, summer seems to be another hot spot. People sometimes realize that they can’t afford pet accommodations when going on vacation and elect to surrender their animal instead. This means that January and July are good times to adopt!

Origins of National Rescue Dog Day

Human hand is touching a cute little doggie paw through a fence of a adoption centre.

National Rescue Dog Day takes place on May 20th each year.


Back in 2018, a woman named Lisa Wiehebrink founded this holiday to raise awareness about the growing population of dogs who spend their lives in shelters. She felt inspired to create this holiday after having her own life changed through the love of a rescue dog named Cooper. She hopes that National Rescue Dog Day will grow in popularity each year and that more people will feel compelled to adopt rather than shop. National Rescue Dog Day takes place on May 20th each year. Let’s dive into some ways that you can join in on the fun!

1. Adopt a Dog

A Golden Retriever sits on his hind legs and holds his paws up in a poppy field at sunset

Golden retrievers are the most adopted breed of dog.

©Olha Didenko/

Although May 20th isn’t necessarily a busy shelter drop-off month, it’s still a great time to add a rescue dog to your family. Those who work at shelters know that resources are spread thin, regardless of the time of year. Any dog adopted makes a profound impact, not just on the chosen dog, but on all the ones left in the shelter as well. With more adoptions, workers have fewer animals to care for, and supplies last longer!

2. Spend Time Volunteering at a Rescue

Places to adopt Guinea Pigs

It is estimated that one shelter animal is euthanized every 16 seconds.


If you’re not able to bring home a rescue dog of your own, why not spend some time volunteering at a shelter? This is a great way to give back to your community and help animals in need. Often, shelters and rescues rely on volunteers to donate their time. It doesn’t have to be on May 20th. If you have some free time coming up, consider spending your day at a rescue. You might wind up loving it and return again and again!

3. Spread Awareness on Social Media

Owner training dog in park teaches new tricks and commands give a paw. Akita Inu dog breed. Happy puppy playing outside. Dog behaviour, playing dog and training pet concept.

Rescue dogs are joyous, life-enhancing companions!


Not everyone can afford to bring a dog into their home or donate their time to work at a rescue. However, one action nearly everyone can take is posting about National Rescue Dog Day on social media. Those who want to spread awareness can use the hashtag #NationalRescueDogDay to share photos and stories online. This is a way you can connect with others who are also impassioned about this very noble cause!

The photo featured at the top of this post is © VILevi/

Ready to discover the top 10 cutest dog breeds in the entire world?

How about the fastest dogs, the largest dogs and those that are -- quite frankly -- just the kindest dogs on the planet? Each day, AZ Animals sends out lists just like this to our thousands of email subscribers. And the best part? It's FREE. Join today by entering your email below.

What's the right dog for you?

Dogs are our best friends but which breed is your perfect match?


If you have kids or existing dogs select:

Other Dogs

Should they be Hypoallergenic?

How important is health?
Which dog groups do you like?
How much exercise should your dog require?
What climate?
How much seperation anxiety?
How much yappiness/barking?

How much energy should they have?

The lower energy the better.
I want a cuddle buddy!
About average energy.
I want a dog that I have to chase after constantly!
All energy levels are great -- I just love dogs!
How much should they shed?
How trainable/obedient does the dog need to be?
How intelligent does the dog need to be?
How much chewing will allow?

Share on:

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.