Yellow Lab looking upwards sitting on a sidewalk.

If you’ve decided to adopt your next Labrador Retriever from a shelter or rescue group, congratulations!

While we love reputable Labrador breeders, we also love hearing stories of Labradors finding their forever homes through amazing rescue groups and shelters. But if you’ve never worked with one, you may not know how to find a Labrador rescue, or what the process is like working with one.

(If you’re still in the process of trying to decide if rescuing a Labrador is a good idea for you and your lifestyle, start here with our guide to the Benefits & Challenges of Adopting a Rescue Lab.)

So how do you find a Labrador rescue near you? And what is the process like in getting a dog through a rescue organization?

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You can locate a Lab rescue near you in two ways: using an online rescue directory, or using online & social media results based on your location. There is also a general process for adopting a Labrador through a Lab rescue organization, which consists of 5 typical steps:

  • Application
  • Interview
  • Home Visit/Evaluation
  • Vet and Reference Checks
  • Match with a Rescue Dog

We’re going to cover each of these in more detail to help you understand how the adoption process works.

How Do I Find a Lab Rescue Near Me?

The first step in finding a rescue Labrador is to search Labrador rescue organizations near you. You can do this search in two ways.

The first place to start is the online rescue group directory at the Labrador Retriever Club of the United States. (The Labrador Retriever Club is the parent club for Labrador Retrievers affiliated with the American Kennel Club).

This directory is an excellent resource for how to find a Labrador rescue group in both the United States and Canada. They also have a separate directory for breeders, but this directory is solely for rescue group locations.

The second way to search for a Lab rescue group near you is to use Google Search location results and social media searches.

If you live in a more heavily populated area, near larger cities, you might have better luck with this search method, as you’re more likely to find more rescue groups in higher population areas.

If you’re living in a more rural or isolated location in the US or Canada, you might not find any rescue groups with websites, social media pages, or Google local results near you. If this happens, try to use the Labrador Retriever Club’s directory, or contact us and we’ll help you try to locate your nearest rescue group.

You can also use online shelter resources such as Petfinder to locate possible Labrador Retrievers in shelters near your area.

Chocolate Labrador puppy in the grass.

How Does the Rescue Approval Process Work?

If you’ve never rescued a dog before or worked with a rescue organization, you might not be familiar with how the process typically works.

There are usually 5 main steps that you will need to go through when working with a Labrador rescue to adopt a dog:

1: Application

The first step after contacting the rescue organization will be to complete an application with them. This will usually be done online.

The application will probably also include a small fee of between $25-$50 which will go later towards the adoption fee if you’re successfully matched with a dog.

In completing the application be sure to fill it out in its entirety and don’t leave off any information. The application will ask you questions about your living situation, children living in your home, and your previous history with dog ownership.

It will probably also ask you if you’ve ever turned in a dog to a shelter or been refused adoption by other rescues or shelter organizations.

2: Interview

After your application has been submitted and reviewed, a volunteer from the Labrador rescue organization will contact you to discuss your situation and get to know you better. This person may be referred to as your “Adoption Coordinator” and will stay with you through the adoption process.

This is a chance for you to explain more about any information you put on your application, and also an opportunity to ask questions about the policies and process of the specific rescue group you’re working with.

Not sure what to ask? Read our guide to the Benefits and Challenges of Adopting a Lab Rescue for more about what to expect about rescue life and what topics you might need to ask questions about before adoption.

3: Home Visit/Evaluation

The third step in the adoption process with a rescue group is typically the home study or home evaluation. In this step, your Adoption Coordinator will schedule a time to come to your home and evaluate its appropriateness for a Labrador Retriever.

They may look at things like yard space, fencing, road hazards, and the layout of your home to determine if it appears you can adequately meet the needs of one of their rescue dogs.

If you’re living in an apartment or smaller living space, and have concerns that the rescue may have hesitation about placing a large-breed dog with you, read our guide to How to Make Living in a Small Space with a Labrador Retriever Work for You. It will help you be prepared for the possible questions your counselor might bring up, and you will show them you’ve already found solutions to any concerns they might have.

4: Vet and Reference Checks

If the adoption process is running smoothly, the next step is usually for the rescue organization to contact your current (or previous) veterinarian, if you have one, to check if they had any concerns.

The rescue will also contact people that you’ve listed as a reference on your adoption application to get their feedback on your animal ownership history. They may ask questions about your previous pets and how you cared for them.

5: Approval & Match with a Rescue Dog

The final step in the rescue adoption process is everyone’s favorite, being approved for adoption and matched with a rescue dog!

While your approval may come within a couple of weeks of your application being submitted, sometimes it can take a while to find the right dog match.

It can be hard to be approved and be waiting to find the right dog, but use this time to discern what qualities in a Labrador would make the best fit for you, and take the time to prepare your other household and family members for adjusting to life with a dog (if it’s going to be a new experience).

During this time, you can attend Labrador rescue events and volunteer activities to meet the dogs as they become available, and get to know which type of Lab might be the perfect match for you.

Large black Labrador lying on a bench.

How Long Does It Take to Find a Rescue Dog?

Be prepared that it can take a little while to get through the entire process with the Labrador rescue and be approved for a future adoption.

How long does it take to get matched to a rescue dog? Usually anywhere from a few weeks to 6 months or more, depending on how busy the rescue organization is, and what type of dog is going to be the best match for you.

For example, if you’re a family with younger children, and can only adopt a Labrador puppy, you may have to wait much longer than someone else without young kids who’s able to take an adult dog.

The staff of the rescue is usually all volunteers, and the organization is typically a non-profit. So the process may not be rushed and make take some time.

It’s often longer than you might expect, especially during and after the Covid-19 pandemic, when so many people adopted rescue dogs. Be aware that it can take many months before you have a successful match, but you want to take your time and get the right dog for you.

Take the time during the application approval process to familiarize yourself with a basic overview of the Labrador Retriever breed, so you know what to expect when you are matched to a new dog.

Also, if you’re adopting a puppy through the rescue, read our guide to the 7 Things You Need Before You Bring Your New Puppy Home to be prepared for your new dog’s arrival.

Summary: How to Find a Lab Rescue

Whether you get a new puppy using a Labrador breeder or adopt a Lab through a rescue organization, choosing to get a new dog is a significant decision.

We love both amazing puppy breeders and great rescue groups saving Labs and helping them find their forever homes.

If you’ve never worked with a rescue organization, we hope this guide has helped you figure out how to find a Labrador rescue and what the process is like working with them. Most Lab rescue groups will follow the same similar application process that we’ve outlined here.

If you get stuck finding a rescue group near you, contact us and we’ll help you get connected!

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