Information on Animal Shelters, Pet Rescues, and Humane Societies

Mark Gordon BrownStarred Page By Mark Gordon Brown, 31st Aug 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Pets>Adoption & Rescue

My wife has worked at an animal shelter for 5 years (an SPCA in Canada) I asked her some of the most common questions about Animal Shelters and these are her responses.

Where do Animal Shelters get their Money?

Every shelter is different, some get some funding from the city, but many do not. The shelter I worked for got some funding because we also acted as the cities dog pound for stray animals. We still needed donations, and the building itself had been a donation. Fund raising events were important. Our shelter had a garage sale, open houses, and other events. We often applied for government grants.

We also charged a small relinquishment fee when owners brought in their pets – but so many people would lie and claim their pet was a stray to avoid this, or leave it at night when nobody was at the shelter. The fees were very small and really did not help much. Adoption fees only covered the cost of vaccinations and worming done on the pet (and in most cases the adoption cost was below our expenses for such), and as such did not contribute to funds at all.

Why are Pets so Expensive to Adopt from Animal Shelters?

I cannot speak for all shelters, but I know at the one where I worked it was cheaper for a person to adopt a kitten, for example, than to get a free one and take it to the veterinarian themselves to have all the things done to it they should (vaccination, worming, health check). As well they got a voucher to reduce the cost of spaying or neutering. Most shelters are non-profit and their rates should reflect this, keeping the animals below the cost of having all the required medical done on a “free pet”.

If people really think adoption is expensive, then perhaps they cannot afford to own a pet and provide for all the other care needed.

If the Shelters Really Want to Help the Pets, Why Not Give Them For Free?

This would not help the pets, or the shelters. If all the pets were free the shelter would soon run out of funds. Also people tend to care more about a pet they have paid for. It is not uncommon for people to lose a “free pet” and rather than paying to get it back from the pound, they just go get another free one. Some shelters do adopt out free older pets, or feral cats (as barn cats).

This is actually one of the most common questions, and I wrote a link on it too.

Is it True that Shelters Kill Pets After 72 Hours?

The 72 hour law is very important for pet owners to know about. Basically it says that legally after 72 hours a stray pet without identification (tattoo, microchip, tags) is property of the shelter to do with as they will. Pets with identification required 10 days hold. Most shelters are aware that 72 hours is a short time so keep strays for at least a week, depending on their euthanasia schedule and how full they are. If an animal is adoptable it would be moved into the adoption area (although some shelters never put strays up for adoption).

Once an animal is considered to be adoptable it is vaccinated, vet checked, and wormed, this all costs money, so naturally the shelter would not want to euthanize these animals. The public often hears about the 72 hour rule and assumes that this means all pets, whether strays, or up for adoption, are euthanized after 72 hours. This is simply not true, the shelter would never pay for a pet to be vaccinated, and so forth, than kill it two days later or whatever.

Basically if your pet is lost you need to call the shelter immediately, because after 72 hours it is legally not your pet anymore, it belongs to the shelter. I should add this is the law in most areas and countries, but not all.

Why Can't Shelters Keep All the Pets Alive?

Shelters lack space and funding. Even “no-kill” shelters pick and chose which pets they will help, and which they will turn away based on space and funding.

If more people spayed or neutered their pets, and prevented the flood of unwanted animals every year, it would greatly increase a shelters ability to save more lives. Also it must be noted that some animals get very stressed in shelter situations and may even become aggressive, or depressed, as a result, keeping them alive is unfair to them, and unsafe to the staff, especially when there are plenty of more adoptable animals.

Is it Better for a Person to Give Away their Unwanted Pet or Take it to a Shelter?

If they have a spayed or neutered cat or dog, they can try to give it away themselves, but must be careful whom they give it to. In some areas it is legal to take “free to good home” pets and resell them to research facilities, and the people who do this look like nice, normal, people. Indeed many serial killers confessed they started by killing “free to good home” pets. Or they could go to somebody using them as bait for illegal fighting dogs. As such anyone unwilling to give their name, phone number, and address, should be though of as suspicious.

Kittens and pups should never be given away for free. Many of these are not kept for long. Kittens who go missing are not looked for, pups are often not given any training and soon are dumped as unruly animals at the shelter – only now they are bigger, undisciplined, and less adoptable. Worst of all, few “free” kittens and pups receive medical attention, few are spayed or neutered and as such only add to the problem of unwanted litters later on.

Shelters have great success adopting kittens and puppies, and work to ensure they are spayed or neutered thus ending the cycle of unwanted pets. Good owners come to the shelter to adopt adult pets as well. Animal shelters can screen potential adopters.

What Kinds of Pets can you Find at an Animal Shelter

Mostly cats and kittens, dogs and pups, in that order. It depends on the season. You have fewer kittens and fewer pups in the winter than you would in the summer. Adult animals all year round.

We also had a few rabbits, hamsters and chinchillas, guinea pigs and sometimes birds. Our shelter rarely got snakes, pot bellied pigs, ferrets, or sugar gliders, but it depends what kinds of pets are common in the area. We one time had a lamb, and once a pheasant.

Other shelters also have spaces for big animals such as horses and donkies. You really never know what kind of pets you can find at an animal shelter until you go!

Why Should People Adopt from a Shelter rather than Taking a Free Pet or going to a Pet Store?

Free pets, unless fully vaccinated, dewormed, and spayed or neutered, cost more in the long run. A person could potentially take a free pet that is ill or has a heart defect, the free pet could be a very expensive pet. Most shelters have health guarantees for the pets.

Pet Stores support cruel mass breeding operations, such as puppy mills. They usually deny getting pets from these places and in some cases use "Puppy Brokers" to buy the pups so they are not caught buying directly from the mills. BUT.. no reputable breeder would ever sell to a pet store, nor would they need to. In fact reputable breeders always have waiting lists of buyers before even breeding their animals.

You get low quality pets from pet stores, at high prices, and support a hideously cruel industry.

Further Links

Working at an Animal Shelter - Getting the Job

Working at an Animal Shelter - Dealing with Euthanasia

Buynig Pets in Pet Stores Support Cruelty

How to Get Rid of an Unwanted Cat

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Animal Shelter, Aspca, Cat, Cats, Dog, Dogs, Humane Society, Pet, Pets, Rescue, Rspca, Spca

Meet the author

author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
Raised in Michigan, I have a son who recently joined the Military. I am living in Canada with my wife where we have a hobby farm.

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author avatar James Henry Abrina
3rd Sep 2010 (#)

I'm an animal lover though I'm not a vegan and have no plans of being one. Nonetheless, caring for animals is really important. They make me cry most of the time than how abused people do.

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author avatar Denise O
30th Sep 2010 (#)

God bless your wife and all the others that do this kind of work.
I absolutely loved this article, it was sad at times but, the truth, is the truth, is the truth.
I do not understand why people do not spay or neuter their animals.
It is a easy and fairly cheap procedure.
In same cases here in the US,
you can get it done for free.
I have not been innocent before on this,
Our Boo got some dogs pregnant before we had him fixed but, in our defense...
Our vet told us to wait until he was two.
We had changed vets and
since 1996 our pets get neutered when they're 6
months old.
Great article, thank you.

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