National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week is the second week in November, which made me think about the amazing work these organizations do. There are many misconceptions about what shelters provide to our communities and the incredible efforts the staff make to ensure these abandoned animals find loving homes.
What do animal shelters do?
An animal shelter or pound is a place where stray, lost, abandoned or surrendered animals, mostly dogs and cats, and sometimes sick or wounded wildlife are brought. … Some shelters even have sick tropical animals.
How may animal shelters are there?
Approximately 5,000 animal shelters operate in the United States. They are nonprofit agencies. Some of them are run by local governments’ animal control services and others act as completely independent entities. There isn’t a national agency that oversees animal shelters; however, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and other nonprofit organizations that are devoted to animal welfare provide the funding and guidelines to help animal shelters operate effectively.
How long do shelters keep animals?
How long an animal can remain in a shelter depends on local laws and the individual shelter’s rules. Although the Humane Society recommends that shelters hold strays for at least five days, the actual number of days can vary based on the space in the shelter, as well as the health and adoptability of the animals. Most shelters will take every stray that arrives, but are forced to euthanize some animals when they become too full.
What is a ‘no kill’ shelter?
A smaller number of shelters only accept limited numbers of animals but promise to care for them until they are adopted. These are called “no kill” shelters. Despite the name, though, these shelters will euthanize animals that are too old or ill to care for anymore.
Why should I adopt from a shelter?
It costs only about $40 to $100 to adopt a pet from a shelter (this covers the shelter’s costs of spaying or neutering the animal, as well as vaccinations, medications and food). Buying a dog through a breeder can run into the hundreds—or even thousands—of dollars; animal shelters are much more economical. People sometimes assume they will only find “mutts” at a shelter, but about a quarter of the animals in shelters are purebreds. Another misconception is that animal shelters only house older animals. In reality, most have large numbers of kittens and puppies waiting for loving homes.
What do animal shelters need?
Shelters can always use extra supplies. Contact your local shelter or rescue group to see if it has a ‘wish list’ of items it needs. Often the list will include: Water and food bowls, blankets and beds. Most organizations have a ‘wish list’ on their website, so take a look to make sure your items will be accepted: https://www.animalhumanesociety.org/donate/donate-our-wish-list
Remember, the staff who work at animal shelters do the same things most pet owners do to care for their pets. They feed the animals, make sure they have enough water, clean their cages, walk them, pet them and care for sick animals that need special medical attention. A single shelter can house hundreds of animals, and there usually isn’t a lot of money available for hired help, so volunteers are an essential part of shelter operations. Though you won’t get a paycheck, the tail wags and purrs you get in return will make it worth your while, so ADOPT or VOLUNTEER at your local shelter and make a difference!