The best books you should read if you love rescue dogs

Cara Sue Achterberg Author Of One Hundred Dogs and Counting: One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and a Journey Into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues
By Cara Sue Achterberg

Who am I?

Long ago (or so it seems), I was a novelist and a normal dog person with one good dog who played a great game of fetch and ran with me. But then I discovered the other dogs—the ones still waiting in shelters. And the ones who never make it out of shelters. Now my life and writing revolve around these dogs. I’ve fostered 200 animals, traveled to nearly eighty shelters in eleven states, and co-founded the nonprofit, Who Will Let the Dogs Out, whose mission is to raise awareness and resources for homeless dogs and the heroes who fight for them. Now I still write, but I write to save lives.


I wrote...

One Hundred Dogs and Counting: One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and a Journey Into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues

By Cara Sue Achterberg,

Book cover of One Hundred Dogs and Counting: One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and a Journey Into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues

What is my book about?

After nearly a year struggling to find a home for a challenging foster dog, Cara wonders—when will all the dogs be saved? Even after the one-hundredth foster dog passes through her home, the stream of homeless dogs appears endless. Seized by the need to act, Cara grabs her best friend, fills a van with donations, and heads south to discover what is really happening in the rural shelters where her foster dogs originate.

What she discovers will break her heart and compel her to share the story of heroes and villains and plenty of good dogs, in the hope of changing this world. Join Cara on the rescue road as she follows her heart into the places where too many dogs are forgotten and discovers it's within our power to save them.

The books I picked & why

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Rescue Road: One Man, Thirty Thousand Dogs, and a Million Miles on the Last Hope Highway

By Peter Zheutlin,

Book cover of Rescue Road: One Man, Thirty Thousand Dogs, and a Million Miles on the Last Hope Highway

Why this book?

Knowing nothing about dog rescue, only that he loves the dog he recently adopted, Peter joins a professional transporter moving dogs from Texas to New England to save their lives. He sees firsthand the challenges facing would-be rescuers and the humongous need. This book was eye-opening and forced me off the sidelines to add my own voice to the problem. I simply couldn’t look away; I had to find a way to join in the fight to save lives. It is a compelling read equally heartbreaking and heartwarming. No one can read this book and be unchanged.


Rescue Dogs: Where They Come From, Why They Act the Way They Do, and How to Love Them Well

By Pete Paxton, Gene Stone,

Book cover of Rescue Dogs: Where They Come From, Why They Act the Way They Do, and How to Love Them Well

Why this book?

Rescue Dogs is one part true crime, one part instructions on bringing home a rescue dog, and one part get-your-butt-off-the-couch-and-help. While the book focused on purebred dogs from puppy mills and commercial breeders, many of the same issues arise when you bring home any shelter pet. It wasn't always easy to listen to the stories of animal abuse that occur all too often in purebred breeding operations, but Pete’s devotion and his ability to put the big-picture before his emotions were admirable. If we intend to move the needle on stopping the killing of adoptable dogs in this country, we need more of that attitude.

What I loved most about this book, though, was Pete's attitude toward the individual animal. He urges the reader to look beyond breed to the dog as an individual. To love the dog not because of the way he looks or his pedigree, which he shows is rarely what it seems, but because every animal deserves your respect, loyalty, and love.


Little Boy Blue: A Puppy's Rescue from Death Row and His Owner's Journey for Truth

By Kim Kavin,

Book cover of Little Boy Blue: A Puppy's Rescue from Death Row and His Owner's Journey for Truth

Why this book?

I loved this book - not only because this is my world lately and because Kim Kavin is quite obviously a kindred spirit, but because the writing was excellent, the research complete, and the passion so evident. Kim educates without beating us over the head; she exposes the horrors of dog overpopulation, while admitting her own bias and misconceptions. Not only that, she writes a beautiful tale about an adorable puppy and a woman looking for answers amidst personal pain and political agendas. Bravo. Everyone should read this book.


Rescuing Penny Jane: One Shelter Volunteer, Countless Dogs, and the Quest to Find Them All Homes

By Amy Sutherland,

Book cover of Rescuing Penny Jane: One Shelter Volunteer, Countless Dogs, and the Quest to Find Them All Homes

Why this book?

This beautiful book not only touched my heart, but it challenged me to re-think my perspective on dog rescue. Sutherland made me want to do more and while she occasionally broke my heart, she also gave me great hope that we can solve this very solvable problem. As a person involved in dog rescue, from the foster and rescue side, it was eye-opening to get a shelter volunteer's perspective, but Sutherland's journalistic chops added authority and clear thinking to the situation. Her obvious research, combined with her personal experience, made for a powerful read. I was inspired to read about what innovative shelters across the country are doing to tackle the problem of too many dogs being overlooked in shelters. Sutherland's personal stories of the dogs she encountered were heartbreaking and beautiful. She is a smart, realistic, dog-hearted person who asks a lot of good questions and challenges the reader to be part of the solution, not the problem. Loved this book on so many levels.


Pit Bull: The Battle Over an American Icon

By Bronwen Dickey,

Book cover of Pit Bull: The Battle Over an American Icon

Why this book?

You cannot begin to fix the problem of overcrowded shelters and the destruction of adoptable dogs unless you grapple with the category of dogs labeled pit bulls. I cannot say enough good about this book. Thorough, fair, well-written, inspiring, instructive, just amazing. Every person involved in dog advocacy, rescue, or training should read this book, heck, every person that loves dogs should read this book – especially those who have opinions about pit bulls. This book will make you think about how the media dictates our popular opinion about pretty much everything. Thank you to Bronwen Dickey for writing such an important book.


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