The best books you should read if you love rescue dogs

Why am I passionate about this?

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.

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The books I picked & why

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

Cara Sue Achterberg Why did I love 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.

By Peter Zheutlin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Rescue Road as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Peter Zheutlin has written a lovely, moving, important book about a subject that is both heartbreaking and joyful." - Dean Koontz
How far would you go to save a life? This is the extraordinary story of one man who has driven more than 1 million miles to rescue thousands of dogs from hunger, abuse and neglect and give them a second chance at life and love.
For years, Greg Mahle struggled to keep the last of his family-run restaurants afloat in Ohio. When it finally closed, he was broke and unsure what to do next. Then a stranded van-load of…


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

Cara Sue Achterberg Why did I love 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.

By Pete Paxton, Gene Stone,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rescue Dogs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A fascinating look at rescue dogs--where they come from, why every dog lover should consider adopting one, and how to make them part of your family.

America's leading undercover animal investigator, Pete Paxton, has, among other exploits, infiltrated more than seven hundred puppy mills, worked undercover to close one of the largest and most infamous puppy mills in the United States, and shuttered the most notorious trafficker of dogs for experimentation in history. In this book, he shares stories of the amazing dogs he has rescued and brought to loving families, and also offers invaluable guidance and wisdom for anyone…


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

Cara Sue Achterberg Why did I love 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.

By Kim Kavin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Little Boy Blue as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When journalist Kim Kavin decided that she wanted a puppy, she did what millions of people do every year: clicked on an online photo and submitted an application. She had no idea that the adorable brindle--advertised as healthy and near her home in New Jersey--was actually a last-minute rescue from a gas-chamber shelter in North Carolina. Blue had arrived in the Northeast with at least a dozen other dogs in an RV that is just one among countless transports whose sponsors are dedicating their efforts to saving dogs by any means possible. Blue was happy and friendly, but he seemed…


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

Cara Sue Achterberg Why did I love 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.

By Amy Sutherland,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rescuing Penny Jane as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"The animal rescue culture is one of the most fascinating sub-cultures in American life, and Amy Sutherland explores it with honesty, humor, and great insight. This is not another sappy book about saving animals, but a valuable journey into the best spirit of this extraordinary new movement." - Jon Katz, author of TALKING TO ANIMALS

Terrified Penny Jane, brassy but filthy Dixie Lou, tough-guy Dingo and the crazed, nippy jester, Walter Joe. These are not your average cute-and-cared-for, well-trained pups, these are shelter dogs - they are scared, aggressive, so painfully shy that they can't look you in the eye,…


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

Cara Sue Achterberg Why did I love 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.

By Bronwen Dickey,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Pit Bull as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The controversial story of one infamous breed of dog--a New York Times Bestseller ("Animals" list).

When Bronwen Dickey brought her new dog home, she saw no traces of the infamous viciousness in her affectionate pit bull. Which made her wonder: How had the breed—beloved by Teddy Roosevelt and Helen Keller—come to be known as a brutal fighter? Dickey’s search for answers takes her from nineteenth-century New York dogfighting pits to early twentieth‑century movie sets, from the battlefields of Gettysburg to struggling urban neighborhoods. In this illuminating story of how a popular breed became demonized--and what role humans have played in…


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A Diary in the Age of Water

By Nina Munteanu,

Book cover of A Diary in the Age of Water

Nina Munteanu Author Of Darwin's Paradox

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Writer Ecologist Mother Teacher Explorer

Nina's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

This climate fiction novel follows four generations of women and their battles against a global giant that controls and manipulates Earth’s water. Told mostly through a diary and drawing on scientific observation and personal reflection, Lynna’s story unfolds incrementally, like climate change itself. Her gritty memoir describes a near-future Toronto in the grips of severe water scarcity.

Single mother and limnologist Lynna witnesses disturbing events as she works for the powerful international utility CanadaCorp. Fearing for the welfare of her rebellious teenage daughter, Lynna sets in motion a series of events that tumble out of her control with calamitous consequence. The novel explores identity, relationship, and our concept of what is “normal”—as a nation and an individual—in a world that is rapidly and incomprehensibly changing.

A Diary in the Age of Water

By Nina Munteanu,

What is this book about?

Centuries from now, in a post-climate change dying boreal forest of what used to be northern Canada, Kyo, a young acolyte called to service in the Exodus, discovers a diary that may provide her with the answers to her yearning for Earth’s past—to the Age of Water, when the “Water Twins” destroyed humanity in hatred—events that have plagued her nightly in dreams. Looking for answers to this holocaust—and disturbed by her macabre longing for connection to the Water Twins—Kyo is led to the diary of a limnologist from the time just prior to the destruction. This gritty memoir describes a…


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