Tips & Advice
Do shelters offer affordable spay or neuter services?
Most city and county shelters offer affordable spay/neuter services. SPCA and Humane Society shelters also are known for their low-cost spay/neuter programs.
Do shelters offer veterinarian services for pet owners?
Shelters typically offer spay/neuter surgery, vaccinations, microchipping and some essential medical treatment (deworming, mange treatment) to animals being adopted from the shelter. For other veterinary services, you will need to find a vet.
How does someone know if a shelter is “no-kill?”
No-kill and low-kill shelters will state it in their online profile and other official materials. They will usually explain what their process/policy is for looking after the animals in their care. These are also known as “limited admission” shelters because they are usually at full capacity most or all of the time. Also, they often work with rescue organizations or county Animal Services authorities to accommodate animals living in inhumane conditions, abandoned or injured animals.
Can anyone bring a lost animal into a shelter?
Anyone can bring a lost animal to a county or municipal shelter. However, private shelters affiliated with rescues often will not accept animals, whether lost or surrendered by owners. Shelters with low-kill policies often have a limited admission capability.
How much does it cost to adopt an animal from a shelter?
Adopting an adult dog from a county or city shelter usually costs $75-$100. Young adult purebreds and puppies often have a higher adoption fee. The fee to adopt a cat is usually about $50– sometimes with discounts if one new owner adopts two cats. The adoption fee usually covers the cost of spay/neuter surgery and essential vaccinations.
What is the process to adopt from an animal shelter?
If adopting from a county or municipal shelter, the process is very easy. People can visit the shelter during adoption hours, look through the kennels until an animal is of interest, and then spend some minutes “getting to know” the animal. Many shelters encourage owners to consult with staff prior to making a decision, but it’s not always mandatory. You should have photo ID with you to provide a record for the transaction. A nominal adoption fee ($50-$100) generally covers spaying/neutering surgery and key vaccinations. Puppies and young purebreds may have a higher adoption fee.
Private shelters, especially those affiliated with specialized rescues (breed-specific, exotic animal rescue) usually have a more complicated adoption process that requires prospective owners to complete an application form and sometimes go through a home inspection. These shelters ask a substantially higher adoption fee.
How long are animals allowed to stay at an animal shelter?
The question of how long animals are allowed to stay at an animal shelter varies greatly, and is a major thing that animal rescue groups consider when prioritizing their work. Some shelters operate like sanctuaries and have a no-kill policy: they will keep animals until a viable owner adopts. Others will keep animals for weeks or months, until they have exhausted any possible medium-term option for finding a permanent home. City and county shelters have the highest rate of incoming animals and can sometimes only keep them for days before euthanizing them.
If you’ve lost your pet, contact all area shelters right away. A typical policy requires the shelter to hold pets with identification (tags, microchip) for 5 business days and pets without identification for 3 days. The facilities often try to post photos of incoming animals online to give owners a better chance to locate a lost pet. Especially if you have a cat with no tags or microchipped, it is urgent to begin searching the local shelters, as pets can easily be lost in the system and euthanized.
What kinds of animals can a shelter house?
The most common kinds of animals found in shelters are dogs and cats. Many shelters also have rabbits--less commonly, birds and small animals like guinea pigs. Shelters in rural areas sometimes have space for livestock and horses.
What happens to animals in animal shelters?
When animals come into animal shelters, they are assessed to determine health, age and temperament. Especially at rescue-affiliated shelters, animals may receive some medical treatment or special care when needed. The goal of all animal shelters is to find homes for as many animals as possible. However, there are far more homeless animals than interested owners, and the American Humane Society estimates that more than 50% of dogs and 80% of cats that enter a shelter are euthanized.
Municipal shelters especially in big cities are often under-resourced and overcrowded, and therefore can do less to rehabilitate animals before euthanizing them. Therefore, many animal rescues work with the public facilities to learn about new arrivals, adoptable animals, or animals at “high risk” of being euthanized, and pull those animals out of the city/county facility into some long-term shelter or boarding arrangement until they can be adopted.
What do animal shelters do?
Animal shelters give animals with no owners a place to stay, as well as food and minimal care. In addition to taking in strays and abandoned animals, some shelters also receive lost pets. Some shelters are run by a city or county’s Animal Services division, some are associated with national animal protection non-profits ASPCA and Humane Society, and others are operated by independent local rescues.