Big Hair Animal Rescue

Sturbridge, Massachusetts

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About Big Hair Animal Rescue

Big Hair Animal Rescue is a volunteer-run, non-profit rescue in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. Founded in 2015, they’re a foster-based rescue with no kennel facility. They aren't a breed-specific rescue, but they primarily focus on helping the common breeds that overpopulate shelters.  

Big Hair Animal Rescue recognizes that all of the animals in their care have been failed previously. Some have a long history and pattern of failed placements. Due to this, they prioritize getting to know the dogs prior to placing them responsibly in the community. All cats and dogs are medically and behaviorally evaluated and have their temperament tested to ensure responsible placements moving forward.

The goal (and definition) of a successful adoption is a permanent home for the rest of the dog or cat’s life. Both the evaluation process and the time spent in the rescue prior to re-homing allows Big Hair Animal Rescue to determine whether or not a dog is suitable to live with other dogs, cats, or children. Dogs are tested for food aggression, resource guarding, reactivity, and separation anxiety.

Contact Info

139 Fairview Park Rd
(617) 981-5680

Hours of Operation

None (no kennel facility)
Call/email with questions or to schedule an appointment to visit an animal in foster care

Adoption Process

The process to adopt from Big Hair Animal Rescue has been designed to ensure a strong match between animals and their adopters. These are simple steps to follow:

  1. View all the animals waiting for their furrever homes on the rescue's website.
  2. Complete an application form, which can be found below.
  • Once your application is submitted, volunteers will review it. The review process includes contacting your landlord (if you rent), contacting your vet (please give your vet permission to speak to a volunteer, even if you’ve had dogs or cats in the past), checking your references, speaking with you about the animal you’re interested in adopting, and scheduling a home visit.
  1. The approval process generally takes 2-7 days. It seems lengthy, especially compared to many same-day shelters, but it ensures the right match is found so these down-on-their-luck animals aren't returned to the rescue.
  2. Application approved? Great! Time to meet the animal you want to adopt. All pets are located in loving foster homes throughout New England. You must be willing to travel to their foster homes.
  3. Pets are adopted to the first approved and available adopter. The pet of your choice can't be held or reserved until after your application is approved. If the pet you want has been adopted before your application is approved, Big Hair Animal Rescue will gladly help you find a new perfect match.

Please be aware of the requirements to adopt a pet from Big Hair Animal Rescue:

  • Current pets, if any, must have a history of ongoing vet visits.
  • Current dogs must be on a heartworm preventive medication.
  • If you rent, talk to your landlord about pet policies.
  • Supply three references for your background check.
  • Dogs and cats that are adopted are up to date on flea/tick preventative and dogs are on heartworm prevention. You must continue these monthly treatments as a condition of your adoption.

Big Hair Rescue can't stress enough the importance of understanding the personality of the animal you're adopting. Consider how they fit into your home and lifestyle. Research the different breeds, temperaments, energy levels, and think about what really works best for your household.

Ready to adopt a pet from Big Hair Animal Rescue? Complete an application form below:

  • Adoption Application - Dogs
  • Adoption Application - Cats

Adoption Fees

Adoption fees at Big Hair Animal Rescue are as follows:


  • Puppies (up to 6 months): $400
  • Puppies (6-12 months): $375
  • Adults (1+ years): $325
  • Seniors (7+ years): $250

Your adoption fee covers spay/neuter surgery, microchipping, a full set of vaccinations,  heartworm prevention, and flea/tick prevention.


  • Kittens (up to 12 months): $175*
  • Bonded pair of kittens: $250
  • Adult Cats (1+ years): $75
  • Senior Cats (7+ years): $50

*Single kittens are only adopted out to homes that already have at least one cat.

Your adoption fee covers spay/neuter surgery, rabies and DHLPP vaccination, and FIV testing

Adoption Process & Fees

Our writing team is hard at work researching this shelter's adoption process and fees, so this page will be updated soon!

In the meantime, here's some nice-to-know info that applies to nearly every animal shelter, humane society, and rescue.

Why Rescue A Shelter Dog?

Because shelter dogs are full of love!

Is it because they know you saved them and love you harder for it?

I can't say for certain, but yes.

Jokes aside, there are three things all shelter dogs need to thrive in their new home:

  1. Love
  2. Patient
  3. Training

Older shelter dogs, generally 1+ years old, may have experienced a lot of trauma, which often results in one of 8 common behavioral issues:

  1. Anxiety
  2. Aggression toward people & pets
  3. Resource guarding
  4. Destructive behavior
  5. Housetraining regression
  6. Poor social skills
  7. Leash reactivity & barrier-related aggression
  8. Constant whining

These issues are correctable! Your dog isn't broken, they're just damaged. You can fix them with enough love, patience, and a good training plan.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, finding good dog trainers can be hard. Like everything else, dog training is moving only. but there are great online dog trainers that are proven to work and can help get your new pup on the right path.

Animal Shelter vs Humane Society vs Rescue: What's the Difference?

You can learn a lot about an animal welfare organization just by looking at their name.

Animal Shelters

  • Most Animal Shelters are city or county-run organizations, often operated by the local Animal Control department, that manage strays and handle owner surrenders.
  • They usually have kennel facilities you can visit to adopt animals, and they usually have less stringent adoption requirements, lower adoption fees, and same-day adoptions (because their goal is to get animals out of the shelter).
  • Unfortunately, they usually know very little about each animal, including their true personalities and any behavioral problems.

Humane Societies

  • Most Humane Societies are non-profit organizations, many of which are no-kill shelters.
  • Some (but not all) are affiliated with The Humane Society of the United States.
  • They exist to improve animal welfare in the local community and often partner with city or county-run Animal Shelters that often euthanize animals due to capacity restraints.
  • They usually have kennel facilities, sometimes at multiple locations, and usually offer other services to the community such as low-cost spay/neuter clinics, community education programs, and more.
  • They may also have some animals in foster care.
  • There's a lot of variation in process and fees among Humane Societies, but they usually have really good websites that detail everything for you.


  • Most Rescues are foster-based organizations that don't have physical facilities.
  • They usually have websites and contact emails, but not all of them have phone numbers.
  • Because they don't have a physical facility, you need to view animals in their foster network online, usually on their website but sometimes on their member pages on either PetFinder or Adopt-a-Pet.
  • If you see an animal you'd like to meet, contact the rescue using the process listed on their website or via email. They'll help you through the application process and set up a time for you to meet the animal at the foster's home.
  • Adopting from a rescue generally is the most expensive option here and takes the longest, but you get an animal that's been cared for in a loving home environment and their foster can tell you a lot about their personality.

6 Tips to Improve Your Adoption Experience

Adoption processes vary drastically from organization to organization, but here are some general tips that apply in most instances. Note that we'll use the term "shelters" here for simplicity but it includes all types of rescue organizations.

  1. See an animal online that you'd like to meet? Call the shelter before your visit to make sure the animal is still available. This especially applies for puppies, which are adopted out quickly.
  2. Usually, you'll need to get some paperwork in order: a photo ID, vaccination/medical records for any pets you currently have, possibly your vet's contact info and a couple of personal references, and (for renters) proof you're allowed to have a pet (copy of your lease or your landlord's contact info).
  3. If you need to provide contact info for your vet, let your vet know ahead of time. Otherwise, they may not release your information.
  4. Many shelters require your current dogs to meet adoptive dogs. Your current dogs need to be up-to-date on vaccinations.
  5. Some shelters require you to schedule a home visit to ensure a suitable living environment for the new animal.
  6. Adoption fees may seem excessive, but they're actually amazing values. Truthfully, caring for a pet is expensive. Most adoption fees include required medical care to get the animal ready for their new home including (but not limited to) spay/neuter surgery, vaccinations, general vet exams, flea/tick treatment, deworming, heartworm testing/treatment for dogs, and feline leukemia and feline AIDS testing/treatment for cats. In general, your adoption fee is less than the cost of this care, so you're saving money in addition to your new animal's life!

If you have any questions about adopting an animal (what you'll need, what to expect, etc.) feel free to contact the PetLists team!

For more information about what's included in your adoption fee, or any other questions about the adoption process, reach out to
Big Hair Animal Rescue
directly using the contact info above.

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All information on this page is accurate and up-to-date to the best of our knowledge. If you spot an error, please contact us using our contact form.
Note: Hours of operation and other information on this page are subject to change during the COVID-19 pandemic.