The best animal rescue books

3 authors have picked their favorite books about animal rescue and why they recommend each book.

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Rescue at Lake Wild

By Terry Lynn Johnson,

Book cover of Rescue at Lake Wild

When I was a kid, I wanted to rescue animals. I remember taking crabs home from the beach in milk cartons. Sadly, they didn’t make it – nor did they need rescuing in the first place. 12-year-old Madi Lewis is a savvier rescuer, an “animal whisperer” trained by her late grandmother, an animal rehabber, to keep careful records and do basic caretaking. But Madi’s parents have made it clear: no more foster animals. When Madi and her friends find two orphaned beaver kits in a dam, she has to keep it a secret – hard to do as they uncover a local conspiracy to eliminate beavers at Lake Wild. This fast-paced eco-mystery teaches a lot about conservation, ethics, and, of course, beavers! I love Madi as a young Jane Goodall type, too. 


Who am I?

I live in a town near a wildlife refuge. I frequently encounter wildlife, including turtles, in my neighborhood. Trouble at Turtle Pond was inspired by volunteer work my son and I did with a local conservation group, fostering endangered Blanding’s turtles. Although my previous books were mysteries set in other countries, I have become interested in the mysteries we can find in our own back yards and in other community spaces we share with nature. I love eco-fiction about kids who love animals, who are “nature detectives,” who have strong opinions, and who are working for the environment, recognizing that every small step makes a difference.


I wrote...

Trouble at Turtle Pond

By Diana Renn,

Book cover of Trouble at Turtle Pond

What is my book about?

Eleven-year-old Miles has moved to a neighborhood near a wildlife refuge, where nesting turtles are on the move. His neighbor, Pia, convinces him to join the Backyard Rangers, who are working to protect them. Miles and Pia discover clues to crimes against endangered Blanding’s turtles. Worse, a pair of foster turtle hatchlings in Pia’s care go missing at a town event. Suspecting poachers, the Backyard Rangers investigate suspects in town. But when Miles becomes a suspect himself, he has to convince his new friends he’s not who they think he is and stop the turtle crimes before more turtles – and people – get hurt.

Trouble at Turtle Pond is a friendship-centered eco-mystery about community science, activist kids, and the power of paying attention.

Rescue Road

By Peter Zheutlin,

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

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.


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.

Little Boy Blue

By Kim Kavin,

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

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.


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.

Old Pearl

By Wendy Wahman,

Book cover of Old Pearl

Perhaps the soft spot I have for this book is because it’s another story about rescuing a wild animal and giving it a further chance.

Every day at the park, Theo makes sure the slow bird with the raggedy wing gets some of the birdseed he throws to the younger, quicker birds. But when a dog runs at the birds, Theo learns that old Pearl, as he names her, can’t fly. He saves Pearl and brings her home, and he and his grandma take care of the bird. Theo’s heartfelt concern allows Pearl to live the rest of her life out of danger, and she and Theo become close companions. But with animal friends, there will come a time to have to say goodbye...


Who am I?

I’ve always been interested in the natural world. I grew up seeing the birds, raccoons, and deer that lived in the woods near my home in Western Pennsylvania. But over the years I began watching smaller things more carefully: tiny creatures with many legs—or no legs at all! I learned that even though earthworms are blind they can sense light. I realized that among “identical” ants, some behaved differently. I found out that if I was gentle, honeybees didn’t mind being petted. Even if we think they’re icky, we owe these tiny creatures our understanding and compassion.


I wrote...

The Rescuer of Tiny Creatures

By Curtis Manley, Lucy Ruth Cummins (illustrator),

Book cover of The Rescuer of Tiny Creatures

What is my book about?

Roberta rescues tiny creatures, like the worms she finds stranded in the middle of the sidewalk on her way to school. That earns her funny looks from the other kids. But one day there’s an invasion of tiny creatures in her classroom, and Roberta will need to use her knowledge and creativity to show everybody that tiny creatures aren’t so scary after all. They just need friends who rescue and understand them. 

Lucy Ruth Cummins’ dynamic illustrations show the tiny creatures Roberta rescues—and her emotional journey through the story, from ridicule to gratitude. The Rescuer of Tiny Creatures was selected as a Blueberry Award Changemaker book and a Nautilus Award Gold Winner.

Stormy

By Guojing,

Book cover of Stormy: A Story about Finding a Forever Home

This is a picture book. No words. Yet it displays the depth of human sensitivities as few books can. The sensitive bonding of a young woman and a dog. Each an outcast - wanting to belong - and finding this in each other. My heart opens every time I read this book. I never get tired of it. An inspiration into the kindest essence of life. It is absolutely magnificent.


Who am I?

I’ve taught yoga and meditation for decades to children from ages 3 to 93. My Doctorate is in Education from the University of Illinois at Chicago. I love to experience personal development and child development has a very special place in my heart. I learn so much from them! It is particularly fun to watch children discover and explore life. Everything old is new again! Sages of Young Ages can open our eyes if we simply open our ears to each child’s unique spoken truths.


I wrote...

Sages of Young Ages

By Joan Budilovsky,

Book cover of Sages of Young Ages

What is my book about?

In a fun new twist on child development, Sages of Young Ages features the itty bitty yet witty words of wisdom from children ages 3-8. Covering over 90 subjects ranging from war and peace to butterflies and baseball. Simple breaths of sweetness in complicated times. The humorous young sages on these pages are sure to put a smile on your face and in your heart.

My Old Dog

By Laura T. Coffey, Lori Fusaro (photographer),

Book cover of My Old Dog: Rescued Pets with Remarkable Second Acts

Adopters of elderly animals are everyday saints. In, My Old Dog, we get to meet some dog saints (including George Clooney), and the sweet oldsters they’ve opened their hearts and homes to. This is a tenderly written book — and I’m not surprised: Laura Coffey has one of the biggest, most generous hearts I’ve ever known. Lori’s photos will make you weep, smile, and go, “Aw.” There’s a poignant foreword by Neko Case, and in the chapter, How You Can Help, wonderful advice from Dr. Marty Becker, and trainer and behaviorist, Mikkel Becker.

Now, go snuggle with your old dog.


Who am I?

I’m passionate about animals. When I was starting out in my 20s, I worked as a vet tech and a dog trainer and fully intended to make a career in animals. But along the way my other love, art, joined the dance. It’s only natural I’ve found ways to combine my two loves, like, illustrating a veterinarian's advice column for Family Dog magazine, and writing, Don’t Lick the Dog, and Nanny Paws, both inspired by my own beloved dogs.


I wrote...

Don't Lick the Dog: Making Friends with Dogs

By Wendy Wahman,

Book cover of Don't Lick the Dog: Making Friends with Dogs

What is my book about?

My standard poodle, Andy, was afraid of children. I wrote and illustrated Don’t Lick the Dog, to help kids (and dogs!) feel safe together. Don’t Lick the Dog, was selected as a 2010 Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year, starred for Outstanding Merit, and accepted to the Society of Illustrators Original Art show. 

“I’m passionate about helping children (and their parents) understand how best to safely interact with dogs, and this book perfectly encapsulates my philosophies on the matter in a really fun and engaging way.” Victoria Stilwell, host of It's Me or the Dog

The Great Penguin Rescue

By Sandra Markle,

Book cover of The Great Penguin Rescue: Saving the African Penguins

I’m sure I’m biased, but I love that this book picks up where my book with the same title (for adults) leaves off. I’m very pleased that the author has highlighted the important conservation story of the African penguin (an endangered species), and the efforts to save it, including the hand-raising of African penguin chicks. The author discusses in detail the many ways that humans have impacted this species - both negatively and positively. This is definitely a book for older children, as it talks about the various threats to penguins, which could be upsetting information for younger children. But, for older children wanting to understand how a species becomes endangered, and how humans can help save those animals, this is a highly informative book. Best for ages 9-12.


Who am I?

I’m a penguin expert, TED speaker, and lifelong animal lover. After getting a BS degree in Animal Science, I became a Penguin Aquarist at Boston’s New England Aquarium. For 9 years, I took care of the penguins there and educated visitors during daily talks. In 2000, I helped manage the rescue of 40,000 penguins from an oil spill in South Africa. (With the help of 12,500 volunteers, we saved most of them!) I founded my educational company The Penguin Lady in 2005, and speak at schools, universities, libraries, for TED-Ed and TEDx, and on National Geographic’s ships in Antarctica. I love sharing my knowledge, and passion for penguins with others!


I wrote...

All about Penguins: Discover Life on Land and in the Sea

By Dyan deNapoli,

Book cover of All about Penguins: Discover Life on Land and in the Sea

What is my book about?

All About Penguins is a beautifully illustrated book for young children about the basic biology and behavior of penguins. Fascinating facts about the penguin’s life cycle, how they swim, hunt, hide from predators, raise their chicks, and more are covered in concise, yet detailed and engaging text. The book includes a glossary, call-out boxes, range map, and a fun trivia section about each penguin species. (And it definitively answers the age-old question; “Do penguins have knees?”)

This book has been enthusiastically endorsed by renowned penguin expert and author Lloyd Spencer Davis, who said, “All About Penguins is so beautiful and so stuffed with facts that it resembles a krill-filled penguin.” Best for ages 4-8.

Jasper's Story

By Jill Robinson, Marc Bekoff, Gijsbert Van Frankenhuyzen (illustrator)

Book cover of Jasper's Story: Saving Moon Bears

This emotional story of one real moon bear, written by two top wild animal experts, hits right in the heart. An important story of what happens when wild animals are caged in laboratories, and what it takes to heal them afterward, this book lingers in the mind for a long time. Jasper’s personality makes everyone fall in love with him, and readers will, too. They’ll also feel compelled to protect every hunted creature (I sure did!).


Who am I?

I’m a lover of wildlife and have written several nonfiction picture books on the topic, including Winged Wonders: Solving the Monarch Migration Mystery, Cougar Crossing: How Hollywood’s Celebrity Cougar Built a Bridge for City Wildlife, and Ocean Soup: a Recipe for You, Me, and A Cleaner Sea. I’m also a humane educator, which inspires the focus of all my nonfiction picture books on “solutionaries” helping people, animals, and the planet. At heart, my books—which have won Golden Kite Nonfiction and Eureka! Nonfiction Honors and more—aim to inspire compassion, inclusivity, and positive action. 


I wrote...

Make Way for Animals!: A World of Wildlife Crossings

By Meeg Pincus, Bao Luu (illustrator),

Book cover of Make Way for Animals!: A World of Wildlife Crossings

What is my book about?

Around the world, city highways and country roads have cut through natural spaces. Wild animals are blocked from the resources they need to survive, or they must make dangerous crossings across busy roads to get to them. Fortunately, solving this problem has inspired some creative solutions! 

Take a tour of wildlife crossings across the globe, from grassy badger bridges to underpasses for elephants to pipelines for penguins. Discover how these inventive pathways have saved both animal and human lives and helped preserve ecosystems.

Poppy in the Wild

By Teresa J. Rhyne,

Book cover of Poppy in the Wild: A Lost Dog, Fifteen Hundred Acres of Wilderness, and the Dogged Determination that Brought Her Home

This dog story is one that kept me on the edge of my seat! I recommend it because it is well written as well as educational. It shows just how stressful losing a beloved pet can be and the desperation by family members to find their lost dog. The book details how a skittish little Beagle named Poppy escaped from his home in Southern California and how his guardian, a volunteer rescuer, received help from other lost dog rescuers that ultimately helped her to capture the scared little dog.


Who am I?

Kat Albrecht-Thiessen is a police detective-turned-pet detective and is the founder / director of the Missing Animal Response Network (MARN). Since 1997, Kat has worked search dogs trained to find lost pets. She is widely known as the leading authority on lost pet recovery training. Kat is a regular speaker at animal welfare conferences. She and her search dogs have appeared on Animal Planet and articles about her work have appeared in People, Reader’s Digest, Parade and many other publications. In 2005, Kat launched the first-ever pet detective academy and since that time has trained over 800 volunteer and professional pet detectives from across the world.


I wrote...

Pet Tracker: The Amazing Story of Rachel the K-9 Pet Detective

By Kat Albrecht,

Book cover of Pet Tracker: The Amazing Story of Rachel the K-9 Pet Detective

What is my book about?

Pet Tracker is the remarkable story of Kat Albrecht, the nation’s first police detective-turned- pet detective. Her pioneering experiences are astonishing, revealing, and time-tested lost pet recovery methods that could one day help you, too.

Disillusioned by a police career where her bloodhound-tracking techniques and brilliant search dogs rarely got a chance to shine, Kat started training her retired Weimaraner, Rachel, to search for lost pets—with unbelievable results. To the amazement of her colleagues, Kat decided to make her unconventional use of search dogs a full-time career, in spite of being mocked and told she was “having a pipe dream” if she thought she could make a living as a pet detective.

Penguin Bloom

By Bradley Trevor Greive, Cameron Bloom,

Book cover of Penguin Bloom: The Odd Little Bird Who Saved a Family

Cameron Bloom, his wife Sam, and their three boys were a normal, happy family - until a near-fatal fall left Sam paralysed and she sank into a deep depression. But in the darkest days of Sam's struggle a new and unexpected member of the family came into their lives: an injured magpie chick abandoned after she fell from her nest, who became known as Penguin Bloom.

The Blooms rescued Penguin, and in return, she saved them in ways they could not have imagined. As her damaged little chick grew into a strong and beautiful bird, Sam found a joy and strength of her own. This is a wonderful true story of courage, love, commitment, and inspiration.


Who am I?

Dion Leonard is an Australian/British ultra runner who competes around the globe in endurance ultra running events ranging from 100 miles to over 240 miles in some of the most extreme conditions known to man. He has numerous top 10 finishes in some of the toughest races on the planet. An international bestselling author with 5 books in over 21 languages; Dion’s story has been featured on CNN, NBC Today Show, Good Morning Britain, CBS, CNBC, ABC America, Associated Press, ESPN, Pickler and Ben, CCTV, BBC, and many others. Dion is an inspirational speaker, animal welfare advocate and raises money and awareness for animals in need.


I wrote...

Finding Gobi: A Little Dog with a Very Big Heart

By Dion Leonard,

Book cover of Finding Gobi: A Little Dog with a Very Big Heart

What is my book about?

Finding Gobi is the miraculous tale of Dion Leonard, an ultramarathon runner who crosses paths with a stray dog while competing in a 155-mile race through the Gobi Desert in China. The lovable pup, who would later earn the name Gobi, proved that what she lacked in size, she more than made up for in heart, as she went step for step with Dion keeping pace with him for 77 miles. As Dion witnessed the incredible determination and heart of this small animal, he found his own heart undergoing a change as well. Whereas in the past these races were all about winning and being the best, his goal now was to make sure he and Gobi's friendship continued well after the finish line. However, before he could take her home, Gobi went missing in the sprawling Chinese city where she was being kept. Dion, with the help of strangers and a viral outpouring of assistance on the internet, set out to track her down, and reunite forever with the amazing animal that changed his life and proved to him and the world that miracles are possible.

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