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Rescuing Penny Jane: One Shelter Volunteer, Countless Dogs, and the Quest to Find Them All Homes

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  299 ratings  ·  60 reviews
What shelter dogs need is obvious—a home. But how do we find all those homes? That question sends bestselling writer and lifelong dog lover Amy Sutherland on a quest to find the answers in her own volunteer work and beyond. The result is an unforgettable and inspiring trip through the world of homeless dogs and the people who work so hard to save them.

Rescuing Penny Jane i
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published February 21st 2017 by Harper
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Cara Achterberg YES! I currently foster for an all-breed rescue and reading your account of shelter life recommitted me to continue to open our home to all kinds
of …more
YES! I currently foster for an all-breed rescue and reading your account of shelter life recommitted me to continue to open our home to all kinds
of dogs. I loved reading about the innovative ideas being implemented in shelters all over the country. It gave me hope that someday there will be no need for me. I rarely see a shelter, as our dogs arrive on transports from rural shelters only a few hours away from us- but a totally different world. Many of our dogs have arrived shell-shocked, but like the ones you brought home for visits, they soon relax and transform in a home atmosphere. It was fascinating (and heart-breaking) to hear a first hand account of the changes you witness in a dog in long-term shelter life. LOVED the book. Will recommend it to all the people involved in our rescue, especially the ones who work with the shelters. I'm grateful for your humongous heart and your writing talent.(less)

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Feb 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I LOVED this book and think it should be a must-read for pretty much everyone. I've read lots of books on this subject, but don't remember being as impressed by one before.

I could write a really long review about it, but I'll try not to. Let me start by saying that I think anyone who works at an animal shelter, whether as a paid employee or volunteer, and/or fosters animals at home, is a very special person in my book.

This book is amazing. The author has worked as a volunteer and has fostered a
Maureen DeLuca
May 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Dogs on the cover, book about dogs- saving dogs, loving dogs... 'nuf said! ...more
Mimi Jones
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dog-books
This review is reprinted from my blog,

When writer Amy Sutherland and her husband, Scott, adopted Bumble Bee, an extremely fearful young dog, from a Maine shelter, they thought that their love would heal her. They also thought that they knew a lot about dogs; each had had dogs individually, and together they had raised their genial Australian shepherd. In addition, Amy was a devoted and experienced volunteer dog walker at the shelter where Bumble Bee had been brought aft
Jan 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Amy Sutherland spent a good portion of her time caring for shelter dogs, and wrote about her experiences. While she gained a lot of fulfillment from volunteering, she also felt sorrow when things didn't work out for some of these homeless pets. Obviously, finding the right home for these animals is a monumental task, with no easy answers.

In our home, we have a veritable zoo of rescue animals -- one aging lab mix, five cats of varying ages, and three rabbits. (Yes, there are organizations devot
Michelle 🌹🕊
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, dogs, 2017
What a fantastic read. I love to read about dogs and it's hard to come by a current dog rescue book that highlights all the right things. When I picked this up I had no idea the author started out in Portland, Maine and ended up in Boston, so that was a great surprise. Growing up in Maine and never seeing a stray dog in my life, I was excited to learn more about New England shelters compared to the South and wanted to hear the good and the bad. Sutherland definitely hits everything you need to k ...more
Sarah Ewald
Sep 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Okay, I am a sucker for a book with dogs on the cover... That said, it was very interesting. Written by Amy Sutherland, who is a shelter volunteer with dogs. I also volunteer at a shelter, but with cats, who, in my opinion, adapt to shelter life better than dogs. I never really thought about the dogs (other than that barking), but the do have issues that manifest themselves the longer they are in the shelter and not adopted.
Amy tells stories of the dogs she has met at her shelter, and others, a
Susan Beamon
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I am not a dog owner, which makes me sort of an outlier in my family. They all have multiple dogs, mostly rescues. I live with cats, myself, but I appreciate dogs. This book was written by a shelter volunteer who focused on dogs, rescuing two herself. The book is a memoir of her life as a volunteer. If she had concentrated just on the shelters she worked in and the dogs she worked with, it would have been a boring book. She gives us a brief history of the shelter movement and a larger history of ...more
Donna Winters
May 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Extraordinary story of dogs, shelters, and new forever homes

The author, Amy Sutherland, is an experienced journalist and shelter volunteer. Her writing is engaging, fresh, and scrupulously researched. I have read several books recently about dogs—shelter rescues, PTSD dogs, military search dogs, retired greyhound rescues—and this one shows exceptional quality regarding the author’s writing skills. Rather than using pat phrases, Ms Sutherland finds new and unexpected ways of wording her descripti
Phyllis Barlow
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
I am a sucker for any book dealing with dogs, so I really enjoyed this one. It was interesting to read how shelters work, and it's wonderful to know there are so many dedicated people trying to take care of and find homes for these pets.

The only criticism I would have (and it's more of a question than a criticism) is she doesn't really go into detail about how she re-habbed Penny Jane. Since the title was Rescuing Penny Jane I thought there would be more information on how she got her adjusted
Marcia Miller
Jul 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: dog lovers
This book gives readers a rare look into the noisy world of animal shelters. The author, herself a long-time dog lover and dedicated shelter volunteer, shares the stories of the many dogs she fostered and cared for while working in shelters in different parts of the country. Based on her observations and work with vets, animal behaviorists, and other animal lovers, she reveals not only the various problems overcrowded shelters experience, but also how difficult it is to strike the right balance ...more
Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
A must read for anyone who loves dogs. It is funny, touching and educational about shelters in this country.
Feb 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
There are moments that are very moving. I don't like to hear about dogs (or any animal) that is put down, because they can't be placed due to behavior or health issues. It made me cry.

She mentions the rescue where I got my dog. I think she gives it too much credit. Low scores on Yelp agree with my own experience and perception. (I don't Yelp, myself.) They are great on paper. On paper. There have been some good people associated with it. No doubt. But (at least, currently) they mislead. I learn
Bonnie Kutch
Mar 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
As a 12-year-long volunteer dog walker/trainer myself, I closely related to this author's sentiments about the volunteer experience; her preference for pitties; her magnetic draw to the dogs; how once your heart falls for a shelter dog, you can't stay away because you need to see that dog through to his/her adoption; how devastated you feel when a dog's health or behavior is so poor that he/she has to be euthanized. The wisdom and advice the many shelter directors she interviewed shared was insi ...more
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dog-books
“Rugby, Penny Jane and Walter Joe have found loving homes and that is what dogs need. It is what they deserve”

“ This is all he knows, his blue ball, his favourite volunteers and his trips to McDonald’s. It is his home”

5 beautiful stars to this beautiful story!!!
So many puppies and dogs need to be rescued even the older ones, even the ones we label (Pitt bulls and chihuahuas). Every dog deserves a home and to know love.

Amy Sutherland just kept fostering the un-adoptable until they were ready to
Jan 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've had other books by Sutherland on my to-read list, but this is the first one I read--and I'm so glad I did. (Thanks to Bark Magazine for their enticing review.) Sutherland's own experience as a shelter volunteer and then foster for a succession of dogs (two of whom she kept) is the basis for the book's exploration of shelter culture in the United States. Sutherland explains a lot about how we ended up with the system we have. This is mostly a hopeful book, but the author doesn't gloss over t ...more
Cara Achterberg
This beautiful book not only touched my heart, but it challenged me to re-think my perspective on dog rescue. Sutherland made me want to do more and while she occasionally broke my heart, she also gave me great hope that we can solve this very solvable problem. As a person involved in dog rescue, from the foster and rescue side, it was eye-opening to get a shelter volunteer's perspective, but Sutherland's journalistic chops added authority and clear thinking to the situation. Her obvious researc ...more
Feb 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
4 to 4.5 stars

Author Amy Sutherland begins walking shelter dogs at her neighborhood shelter. This act morphs into a quest to discover the best way to help shelter dogs. IS spay/neutering the answer? More foster homes? More support to owners to help them keep their animals?

Throughout the book, Sutherland describes how she came to own a nearly feral dog and how that simple act changed her life forever. She fondly reminisces about the dogs she has walked, fostered and meet in her years of voluntee
Gayle Slagle
Nov 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Rescuing Penny Jane by Amy Sutherland is a delightful look into the the world of a shelter volunteer. If you are a dog lover, you will thoroughly enjoy the often poignant accounts of some of the many dogs encountered by Sutherland and if you are not a gung-ho dog lover, you will gain insight into the problem of finding good homes for shelter dogs and the extent to which shelter volunteers go to find the perfect match between dog and owner. The stories are sometimes heartwarming and sometimes hea ...more
May 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was very informative & provided insightful details not only about rescue dogs but different shelters nationwide that protect - and sometimes fails - them. It doesn't dwell so much on the dogs that live with the author, who recounts her experiences as a volunteer working with shelter dogs & fosters. She gives a thorough account of what to expect & how to adjust to these dogs. This is very much needed, as most of us have over-idealized visions of humans rescuing animals. It takes work & commi ...more
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4000-books
Amy Sutherland visits animal shelters all over the country as well as pioneers in the field to show her readers the struggles that dogs and shelter workers face. She highlights the discussion of the dogs' plights by sharing the stories of specific dogs, including the shelter dogs she and her husband adopted. Telling interesting, endearing, and humorous stories of these dogs, she explores the subject of "No kill" animal shelters, fostering shelter dogs, the plight of "patties" or pit bulls, and n ...more
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought it a bit presumptuous to call this an "unforgettable" journey into the world of shelter dogs, but it was very good, and does give me the motivation to name Amy Sutherland a true hero of the shelter dog. There is a good deal of statistics here; enough to engage the true dog lover in contemplating some of the likely and unlikely numbers that are bandied about when people talk "non-kill" and "kill" shelters - things may not always be what they seem. The later chapter about the efficacy of ...more
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After volunteering at our local animal shelter for over ten years and fostering hundreds of animals and walking dogs countless hours, I was interested to read a book about someone who has done something similar. What I found was an interesting book with not just stories of her fostering and volunteer work, but research about what didn't work/what is working/what could be better and other ideas. Most interesting was the shelter that works with ways to keep pets IN homes when they are thinking the ...more
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I devoured this book. I found an excerpt through surfing the net, read it, bought the book and finished it. Today!

The amount of information about shelters, volunteering, emotional ties and many other aspects of working with and for dogs in general but mostly about “homeless” or shelter dogs is just amazing. She talks about the history of sheltering and many other topics so that I know more now than I ever thought I would.

Additionally she keeps it interesting and entertaining. It isn’t just dog
Maureen Caupp
Oct 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: animal lovers
Shelves: animals
I am not a dog person at all, but I loved this book. Amy Sutherland mixes the storytelling of her own experience volunteering with dogs in shelters and her own dogs adopted from that shelter, with research about the shelter and rescue world to give readers an honest look into shelter life for dogs. I cried, I laughed, and smiled with joy over the story of some of the dogs. The author looks into how shelters are trying to find more dogs loving homes, keep animals in homes, and help people so that ...more
Shelley Pearson
Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've enjoyed every Amy Sutherland book that I've read, so I was super excited to learn about her book about shelter dogs shortly after I adopted a shelter dog! She prefers dogs that are the opposite of my dog, though - older, bigger dogs that have health conditions or trauma. She writes about her experience volunteering at her local shelter, and then goes in-depth into different shelter styles and techniques to get the dogs adopted. I learned a lot about dogs and shelters, and I also liked learn ...more
Misty Melsheimer
Jul 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dogs, non-fiction, memoir
A very real look into the lives of shelter dogs, and the rewards and heartbreak that come with volunteering. While this book did not sugarcoat life in the shelter for these dogs, and I was brought to tears on more than one occasion, it nevertheless reinforced that I want to do my part to help these beautiful creatures. I'm currently waiting for my volunteer application to be approved at a local dog shelter. ...more
Dave Allen
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book that intertwines with the author's relationship with her rescued dogs and her volunteer experiences, and the various efforts by shelters nationwide to find homes for all the homeless animals that come through their doors.

Mixing anecdotes, interviews and solid research, Sutherland's writing is clear and easy to read, even if it gets hard to make it through heartbreaking tales of the 'unadoptables' without tearing up.
Nov 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dogs
Great stories from a volunteers point of view. Book includes different methods used at shelters including walking, play groups, shipping to other shelters. Also includes people who have innovated ways to train and unique places like the Best Friends. Discusses " No- Kill" shelters and what that really means. ...more
Jan 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It brought back so many memories of the dogs I walked and fostered at our shelter in St. Louis. The author did a great job of exploring the many issues animal welfare groups face in trying to find homes for dogs as well as in helping people keep their dogs is possible. This book will inspire more people to help out in whatever way they can.
Apr 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have a hard time finding dog books I enjoy, as I generally find them to be overly sentimental or poorly written. I was hesitant as I began this one, but I was pleasantly surprised! I found it to be a really well-balanced, sweet, and thoughtful, and I learned a lot about how shelters run, too.
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