Animal Shelter, Inc. finds loving homes for puppies and dogs from great shelters, rescues and animal control facilities that are willing to follow our shelters transport protocols pre-transport!

Over the last 20 years our shelter has proudly partnered with shelters in VA – SC- GA – LA – PR – MS – TX and various other Southern states. We’ve even taken pets from other countries but due to the enormous cost and logistics it makes it hard to get pets here from overseas…

If your shelter or rescue is looking for help and is interested in working with us on relocation programs please read more about our transport programs! Review our pre-transport protocols at 2018 STERLING SHELTER Transport Requirements WITH MEDICAL RECORDS CANINE AND FELINE and if your organization can meet our vaccine and pre-transport requirements we are happy to discuss a partnership please email us at

Since February 1999(and LONG before any other New England shelters/rescues even did transport programs) our shelter started working with shelters and rescues in the South and Puerto Rico. Often we were doing 2 high volume transports PER WEEK, and maintained (and still do) a 100% compliance rate on spay/neuter PRIOR to adoption! We still have partnerships with many of these same groups.

NOW in 2018 – Every week or two our shelter accepts transports of puppies, kittens, dogs and cats from situations that otherwise might have a tragic ending for them, and have expanded the number of shelters/rescues and distance we rescue from. Currently we are rescuing from as far away as Texas and still working with Puerto Rico.

Our shelter has so many potential adopters just waiting to give a loving home to a furry friend. Many shelters in the South and Midwest can’t imagine that our shelter (or NE shelters) have such a high demand. We are just as surprised that every week our kennel is almost empty – so, NOTHING CAN BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH! Adoption days here at our shelter are CRAZY!

During the week the shelter opens at 11 a.m. and weekends we open at 10 a.m. – however, there is often a line starting as early as 3-4 a.m.  YES BETWEEN 3-4 A.M.! with potential adopters waiting to meet and hopefully adopt a new furry family member.

A pet that will be loved, properly cared for and vetted. Living INDOORS, sleeping (most times in their 2 legged family members) on bed/s and on couches. They’re on heartworm and flea/tick monthly.... they have toys and see their vet on a regular basis. They’re micro-chipped AND wear a collar with ID tags so if they’re ever lost they can get home. Their owners spoil them with toys and walks and obedience classes. So many of the puppies/dogs are professionally trained and go on to become successful members of the community. They may also become service dogs and many are trained to become invaluable best friends to those who’ve returned from the war and may suffer from PTSD. They also help the blind/deaf with daily tasks or alert their owners should they detect a seizure coming on.

These mixed breed abandoned, unwanted street dogs or strays have also become successful working members keeping our community safe…

Our shelter has donated dogs not only to assistance training programs but also to the DEA and the Sheriff’s Department.

IN FACT: One of our little street dogs – Nikita – was rescued from Puerto Rico and featured on Episode 5 of Shelter Me!Shelter Me: Partners for Life Episode 5 hosted by Jon Hamm. Below are a couple photos of Niki watching HIMSELF on the big screen…. we all flew out to L.A. for the red carpet premiere of Episode 5. The shelter director – Nikita the once homeless street dog from Puerto Rico, his best friend and partner Lt. Tom Chabot and his wife along with Sheriff Lew and his PR director Kim all celebrated Niki? and walked the red carpet! From homeless street dog to walking the red carpet in L.A. Is this NOT the most incredible story??

Our shelter donated Niki and one other dog to the Sheriff’s Dept. for a unique and innovative program where police departments recruit shelter dogs for their prestigious K9 units. Nikita has become an incredible working dog and is quite famous with many, many stories written about him and the amazing work he does with Narcotics Detection, education of school kids, working in the prison and their mail department, doing searches in cells, stopped cars and countless other neat things we could never imagine ONE OF THESE HOMELESS STREET DOGS IS A BETTER WORKING DOG THAN A $25,000 PUREBRED SHEPHERD THAT WAS PURPOSE BRED AND SHIPPED IN FROM ANOTHER COUNTRY!

With all these amazing stories about the pets we RESCUE and work out transport to our shelter from overburdened shelter (maybe like yours?) it is NOT unusual to hear how many families waiting in line have told our staff how they’ve called out sick from work and school just so they could all be here to adopt a pet!

Our adopters are serious about adoption! So when we say adoption days can be extremely busy you just HAVE to see it for yourself because words just don’t do it justice. Its a regular event that even our staff can’t believe happens so frequently! Click on the video image below to enjoy a short video clip of just how many wonderful families our staff opens the gate to on adoption days.

So, our shelter is looking for new partners interested in working with US. Learn more by clicking on the link: The Sterling Animal Shelter is currently open to developing multiple partnerships with other organizations in need If your shelter or rescue is looking for help and is interested in working with us on relocation programs please read more about our transport programs!

Review our pre-transport protocols at 2018 STERLING SHELTER Transport Requirements WITH MEDICAL RECORDS CANINE AND FELINE

If your organization can meet some basic vaccine and pre-transport requirements we are happy to discuss a partnership please email us at

Many people ask our staff and volunteers:

Where do all these puppies come from? if you’ve ever been in the Carribean islands or backroads of the Southern states – you’ll often see homeless pets wandering the streets. The shelters and rescues we partner with are required to follow strict state/federal and shelter guidelines on transporting to our shelter. We EXCEED all state/federal guidelines in order to avoid bringing sick animals in to our shelter that could infect other animals. Some of the organizations we currently work with are listed below…
Do you get them from Puppy mills? Please let us answer this question…

NO, NO, NO and NO! Our shelter does NOT support puppy mills OR pet stores that SELL puppies – not now, NOT EVER. NO SHELTER or rescue organization would have anything at ALL to do with places that churn out thousands of puppies each year with NO regard for their care, treatment, health or well being. Simply put… puppymills are horrible places. If you aren’t familiar with where those petstore puppies come from – PLEASE educate yourself NOW and educate others…..

Its often hard for us in New England to understand that in other parts of the United States there are still high kill animal control facilities. ?Pounds that find stray dogs and puppies wandering the streets, found in town dumps. Or that in this day and age, some shelters use gas chambers and other cruel methods to kill barrel fulls of unwanted animals. Including beautiful, innocent puppies and kittens, because there simply aren’t enough homes for them.

We’d like to share some information about our programs and where our puppies come from. Please check out the links for more information. We hope this information will bring awareness to the sad situation happening every second of the day in shelters across the United States. 4-6 million ANIMALS ARE KILLED BECAUSE PEOPLE DON’T SPAY & NEUTER THEIR PETS.

We are thankful that OUR SHELTER can make a SMALL difference for the ones we can – much like the Story of the Starfish... but all of our staff and volunteers wish we could do MORE…because we know what the sad reality is…and because we receive pleas each week from desperate shelters in the South and Midwest begging us to take their puppies – so they don’t have to fill another barrel of dead puppies.


Please learn more about our various canine rescue programs below

Virginia Homebound Hounds program – established Summer 2000 – is a Death Row Puppy (and dogs) Rescue Mission rescuing and re-homing puppies /dogs from the Southside SPCA in Meherrin, Virginia as well as Animal Control facilities and pounds in over 12 rural Virginia counties. Since its inception, Southside SPCA has transported THOUSANDS of puppies and dogs to loving new homes in New England. Our shelter also helps Southside SPCA with costs for immunizations, deworming, safe transportation and most importantly helps fund programs to spay the mother dogs of these puppies, in an attempt to end the vicious cycle of more puppies entering the world.

A note from Southside SPCA director – Sandy Wyatt – The Southside SPCA has been transporting puppies and dogs to the Animal Shelter, Inc. in Sterling, MA since the year 2000. Leigh and her staff have saved thousands of puppies and dogs. The unwanted litters do not have a chance in the South.We are very grateful for this program. Every week our shelter receives emails, pictures, letters and phone calls just to thank us for sending their new adopted baby to them. They always let me know how well they were treated at the Sterling Shelter staff. The Annual Whisker Walk says it all. Adopters returning with their babies, now beautiful, sweet, healthy dogs, waiting in line for the Virginia Volunteers to see them. Sandy Wyatt – Director – Southside SPCA – Meherrin, VA

a note from a Southside SPCA volunteer and foster mom – During my June 2009 visit to the Sterling Animal Shelter I witnessed first hand the adoptions of approximately 15 puppies and dogs..some of which were from our rural shelter in Virginia. I was overwhelmed with the responsible and enthusiastic adopters. Never before had I witnessed so many adoptions in one day, and never before was I so thrilled with each and every home they got. There was not one moment of concern for these dog’s future. What a remarkable feeling. Our puppies are truly saved. They are cast-offs, victims of pet over-population, left at euthanizing pounds, along highways and dumpsters. They come to us in all kinds of conditions…starving, cold, afraid. BUT, they all have one thing in common…Sterling Shelter is there to save them. The sad truth is there are just not enough responsible homes in Virginia for these puppies. They would never stand a chance without “Home Bound Hounds”. Francee Schuma – Southside SPCA – Dog Adoptions Volunteer

Please got a box of tissues and click here to enjoy a touching video we created and presented to the Staff and Volunteers at the Southside SPCA – to THANK THEM for caring enough to save thousands of these thrown away souls… the puppies and dogs featured in this video have ALL been adopted through our program with Southside.

Our Homebound Hounds have had many NATIONAL stories featured by TV and Print … Click here to see our Homebound Hound story that was featured on the CBS Early Morning Show and another National Newspaper story from the Christian Science Monitor.

If you’ve ever traveled to the Caribbean Islands you’ve probably seen homeless dogs and cats begging for scraps of food …but more so – a kind word and a soft loving pat on the head…its hard to ignore and even harder to turn and walk away if you love animals. The daily atrocities from abandonment and gross neglect to beatings, shootings, burnings, machete attacks, poisonings and more carried out on dogs, cats and even horses would be top stories anywhere else but in Puerto Rico – this happens daily… Our shelter wanted to help!

Our S.O.S. Save Our Satos– program was founded in February 1999 to help find loving homes for the abandoned dogs of Puerto Rico. Sato is a Puerto Rican slang term for a mixed breed dog. Our S.O.S. partner is All Sato Rescue, (ASR), a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of Puerto Rico?s homeless and neglected animals. ASR volunteers rescue Satos from the streets and beaches provide them with medical care, food and shelter, and plenty of love. When the dogs have been fully vetted for health and behavioral issues, they are flown to Boston and picked up by Sterling volunteers.

a note from our friends in Puerto Rico We are truly honored to have had this long partnership with the gang at Sterling. Through our combined efforts, thousands of Satos have found wonderful homes in Massachusetts. We are so grateful to Sterling, not just for the important reason of finding homes for our animals, but also because the entire staff has always been so supportive of our mission and so willing to go above and beyond to do whatever it takes to help a dog in need.

Satos are like snowflakes each one is uniquely special. They come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and breed combinations. But they usually have one thing in common they make extraordinarily appreciative and loyal family members. Our Sato adopters write to us all the time to tell us how happy they are to have enriched their lives and homes with a little touch of Puerto Rico.

Working with the staff to educate them on appropriate animal handling and care, trying to improve conditions. And, when they’re at the shelter, they often can’t help but pick up some of the puppies that need extra help. For there IS NO HOPE they will find loving homes in the shelters. Adopters often write us – that they are very grateful to the volunteers of Puerto Rico for saving lives of the unwanted creatures, as well as for enhancing the lives of the families in New England who get to adopt these angels. Twig Mowatt