7 Compassionate Organizations Working To Protect Animals

It can be a cold world for nonhuman animals, be they domesticated, wild, or living in unusual circumstances like a laboratory or zoo. Threats include everything from hungry predators and neglect to psychological cruelty committed by people. Fortunately, there are many kind souls who work to counteract these dangers. In no particular order, here are some groups that address the conditions of the world's animals.

#1 on our list is Gorilla Doctors. This organization provides veterinary care to mountain, eastern lowland, and Grauer's gorillas in Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The nonprofit dispatches teams to make monthly visits to groups of the endangered apes to perform thorough health checks.

Gorilla Doctors' veterinarians engage in a variety of health-related activities, including examining if the primates are looking well fed, healthy, and alert, whether any signs of weakness or injury are visible, and if there are issues with their skin or hair. The group's approach is based on a belief that the health of any one species is linked to that of its entire ecosystem.

At #2 is Dogwood Animal Rescue Project, a non-profit organization located in Sonoma County, California. DARP is foster-based, meaning the animals are not held in a shelter, but are cared for in the homes of volunteers until adopted. The group's mission is to support all creatures, and the people who love them, through rescue, rehoming, and education.

DARP also helps with the evacuation of Sonoma County during its devastating, near-seasonal wildfires; operates the Senior-to-Senior program to connect old rescues with elderly adopters; and partners with other agencies to shut down puppy mills, which are known for their inhumane conditions. In addition, the group performs spaying and neutering services, including via a mobile clinic.

Coming in at #3 on the list is a charitable organization called Nevada Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Nevada SPCA links people seeking to adopt with creatures that would not otherwise have a permanent residence. The independent nonprofit declares that it wants to see all animals be loved and spoiled.

The group helps people throughout Southern Nevada obtain a myriad of pets, including dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, and rats. The shelter has a no-kill policy, and works to match animals who have specific social or medical needs with owners who can provide homes that are suitable for whatever their new companion requires to thrive.

Continuing the overview at #4 is the Nonhuman Rights Project. NhRP fights for nonhuman animals through litigation, legislation, and education. Its objectives include changing the common law status of great apes, elephants, dolphins, and whales to legal persons who possess such fundamental rights as liberty and bodily integrity.

To that end, the civil rights organization runs grassroots and legislative campaigns to promote recognition of nonhuman animals as beings worthy of moral and legal consideration, and with inherent interests in freedom from captivity and the protection of their natural habitats. NhRP also seeks to foster understanding of the scientific discovery of other species' cognitive and emotional complexity.

Our #5 entry is Wildlife Rescue League, which tends to sick, injured, and orphaned fauna. Residents of Northern Virginia as far south as Fredericksburg and west as Fauquier County are encouraged to call the WRL Wildlife Helpline when encountering an undomesticated creature in distress, or one that requires assistance.

The organization also offers tips, and has published a guide for Virginians attempting to determine if a wild animal requires help. The advice offered covers everything from what to do if one spots a nest of turtle eggs, to how to react if a groundhog is seen outside its burrow in the winter. Other situations described by WRL include what to do when one spies an injured deer or a young squirrel that's been separated from its parents.

In at #6 is Animal Protection of New Mexico. APNM helps steer public policy, works to ensure that humane laws are vigorously enforced, and looks for ways to tackle thorny animal cruelty issues. An example is the group's efforts to stop the trapping of cougars for sport, which required years of pressure and two lawsuits.

APNM also manages a variety of projects. In one, the organization provides fencing to dog owners so their pets can experience time outside, safely, without being tethered. Another is the Equine Protection Fund, which brings dental, gelding, and preventative care to horses, donkeys, and mules in challenging-to-reach rural areas.

Rounding out the list at #7 is Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation, a largely volunteer-run organization that helps pets that have nowhere to lay their heads find their way to loving homes through rescue and adoption. LDCRF saves the lives of pets that face the threat of euthanasia at over-crowded municipal shelters.

LDCRF has a facility in Falls Church, Virginia, and in addition holds off-site adoption events at local stores. It places thousands of dogs and cats with new owners every year. The group makes a point that adoption procedures be friendly and quick, and that all rescued pets are spayed or neutered with no exceptions other than life-threatening medical conditions.