Top 3 German Shepherd Rescues in Iowa: Where to Find Your Friend

Categorized as Breeders & Rescue
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Iowa’s vast countryside and small towns are home to thousands of German Shepherd dogs. Unfortunately, some end up neglected or abandoned. Thankfully, dedicated rescues across the state work tirelessly to save these intelligent and loyal dogs.

This article explores the top 3 German Shepherd rescues in Iowa that go above and beyond to give neglected dogs a second chance at life. We’ll look at their history, mission, programs and how you can help through adopting, volunteering or donating.

German Shepherd Dog Rescue of Iowa: Changing Dogs’ Lives Since 2005

The German Shepherd Dog Rescue of Iowa (GSDRI) is a non-profit started in 2005 by a group of volunteers who wanted to make a difference for neglected and abandoned German Shepherds. Their motto “Saving one dog may not change the world, but it changes the world for that one dog forever” encapsulates their mission.

GSDRI doesn’t have a physical shelter. Instead, they utilize a network of foster homes across Iowa to care for dogs. This provides a loving home environment while dogs wait to be adopted.

While in foster care, GSDRI provides vet care, training, socialization and anything else needed to prepare dogs for adoption. This includes spay/neuter, vaccinations, microchipping and health/temperament evaluations. Their goal is to set dogs up for success in new forever homes.

You can help GSDRI’s mission by:

  • Fostering – Opening your home to a dog temporarily. GSDRI provides all food, supplies and medical care.
  • Volunteering – Help at adoption events, provide transport, help with admin work and more.
  • Donating – Every little bit helps provide care for rescued dogs.
  • Adopting – Give a deserving GSD a loving forever home.

The adoption process involves:

  1. Submitting an application.
  2. Reference and vet checks.
  3. Home visit.
  4. Meet & greet with any other pets.
  5. Take your new furry family member home!

Adoption fees range from $300-375 depending on age. Learn more and see adoptable dogs at

Animal Rescue League of Iowa: Saving All Types of Animals for 100 Years

The Animal Rescue League of Iowa (ARL) is a nonprofit serving the Des Moines area for nearly 100 years. While not GSD-specific, their mission is to help all animals, and they frequently rescue German Shepherds.

In 2021, ARL made headlines by saving over 500 dogs from horrific Iowa puppy mills. Their programs include:

Adoption – ARL adopts out thousands of animals each year, including many German Shepherds.

Spay/Neuter Services – They provide low-cost spay/neuter to reduce accidental litters.

Humane Education – Community programs teach kind treatment of animals.

Behavior Help– Trainers work to improve adopted pets’ behavior.

Anti-Cruelty Efforts – Investigators respond to reports of abuse/neglect.

You can help ARL by:

  • Adopting – Providing a German Shepherd or any pet a loving home.
  • Donating – Funds help save animal lives.
  • Volunteering – Help socialize animals or assist at events.
  • Fostering – Temporarily house pets in need.
  • Purchasing supplies – Buy pet items at ARL’s store.

The adoption process includes:

  1. Browse adoptable dogs online and find your match.
  2. Schedule a meet & greet.
  3. Complete paperwork and take home your furry friend!

Adoption fees range from $60-450 based on age/size. Learn more at

Second Chance Dog Rescue: Honoring a Son’s Memory By Saving Dogs

Second Chance Dog Rescue, located in Prole, IA, was started in 2009 by a grieving couple after the loss of their son. Saving homeless dogs helped heal their hearts and honor their son’s memory.

The rescue focuses on dogs from puppy mills, whom they call “breeder trash”, along with owner surrenders. Their motto is “the dog’s well-being comes first”.

Second Chance runs completely on volunteers and donations. Ways to help include:

Adopting – Offer an abandoned dog a loving home.

Fostering – Temporarily care for dogs until adopted.

Volunteering – Help at adoption events, provide photography services, transport dogs, etc.

Donating – Funds pay for vet care, food and supplies.

The adoption process includes:

  1. Submit an application.
  2. Vet and landlord reference checks.
  3. If approved, meet your potential new fur baby!

Fees vary by dog but help cover expenses. Learn more at

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Get Involved in Iowa’s GSD Community

Connecting with other German Shepherd lovers is rewarding. Two top all-breed clubs to meet fellow GSD aficionados are:

Canine Country Club –

Mason City Kennel Club –

Check club websites for upcoming events, meetings and activities.

Give an Iowa German Shepherd a Second Chance

German Shepherds are intelligent, loyal and loving dogs. Sadly, many in Iowa need rescue due to abuse, neglect or abandonment.

By supporting reputable rescues, you can help provide vet care, training and adoption services to Shepherds in need. Opening your heart and home to adopt is extremely rewarding. Volunteering, fostering and donating are also impactful ways to make a difference.

The three featured rescues work passionately to save Shepherds and find them loving homes. There are certainly more great groups around the state not covered here as well.

No matter how you choose to help, you can give an Iowa Shepherd a second chance at life. They’ll repay you with years of unconditional love and devotion.

Choosing the Right German Shepherd Rescue

With several German Shepherd rescues operating in Iowa, it can be tough deciding which one is right for you. Here are some tips on choosing a reputable rescue group:

  • Do your research – Search online reviews and check with local shelters/vets for recommendations. Groups with a solid reputation care deeply for the dogs.
  • Verify nonprofit status – Legit rescues are registered 501©3 nonprofits. This ensures donations are tax deductible.
  • Ask lots of questions – A quality rescue will be transparent about their processes and the dog’s history/health.
  • Check facilities – If possible, visit in person to meet the dogs and see the rescue’s facility/foster homes.
  • Follow your instinct – The right organization will share your passion for GSDs. You’ll just feel it’s a good match.

Taking the time to find the perfect rescue partner sets you up to save a Shepherd’s life!

Bringing Home Your Rescue GSD

You’ve found the perfect Shepherd rescue and chosen your furbaby. Here are tips for a smooth transition bringing them home:

  • Puppy-proof your home by removing hazards and securing trash cans. Even adult dogs can get into mischief!
  • Purchase a crate and crate-train your new dog for containment and potty training. Take it slowly.
  • Set up a contained area like a pen or doggie gate if you can’t watch them. Don’t give full house access right away.
  • Invest in chew toys to save your furniture and shoes! Shepherds love to chew.
  • Start training and socialization immediately. Obedience classes are highly recommended.
  • Give them time to decompress. It may take weeks or months to settle in. Be patient and understanding.
  • Show your new furry friend lots of love. Shower them with affection, playtime and yummy treats!

With time, patience and training, your rescue Shepherd will become a treasured family companion.

Iowa German Shepherd Rescues: Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How much does it cost to adopt from a German Shepherd rescue in Iowa?

A: Adoption fees range from $300-$450 to offset expenses like vet care and food. Some rescues offer discounts for senior adopters.

Q: What is the adoption process like?

A: It involves an application, vet/reference checks, home visit and meet & greet. The goal is ensuring great matches between adopters and Shepherds.

Q: Do most rescues spay/neuter dogs before adoption?

A: Yes, rescues almost always spay/neuter to prevent accidental breeding. It’s part of providing responsible pet care.

Q: Can I meet a dog before starting the adoption process?

A: Most rescues allow potential adopters to meet dogs at adoption events first. You’ll still need to formally apply to adopt.

Q: How can I volunteer with a German Shepherd rescue?

A: Common volunteer roles include helping at events, fostering dogs, transport, photography, social media, fundraising and more. Reach out to rescues to learn about opportunities.

Adopting a rescue Shepherd in Iowa is extremely fulfilling. With huge hearts and loyal natures, they make wonderful additions to any home.


German Shepherds hold a special place in many Iowan’s hearts. Their intelligence, loyalty and work ethic make them ideal companions. Sadly, too many are neglected or abandoned. Thankfully, rescues like the three profiled work tirelessly to save Shepherds and find them forever homes.

By adopting, donating, volunteering or fostering with reputable groups, you can provide health care, training and love to these noble dogs. With your support, the next neglected German Shepherd can get a second chance at life. There is no greater joy than witnessing the transformation of a rescue Shepherd as they learn what it means to be loved and cherished.

By Andrew Garf

Andrew Garf has loved dogs, especially German Shepherds, since he was 10 years old. Though he also loves burgers, training dogs is his real passion. That's why he created the website - to help dog owners learn how to properly train, care for, and bond with their German Shepherd dogs.