About Animal Shelters and Animal Rescues:

Animal shelters, dog pounds, and dog rescues, all of them take in unwanted dogs and try to find them new homes.

There are two major differences between shelters and rescue groups. Shelters are usually run and funded by local government. Rescue groups are funded mainly by donations and most of the staff are volunteers. While some shelters put animals into foster homes, many are housed on site in kennels. Rescue groups place all their rescues into foster homes as they do not have shelter facilities.

The term "dog pound" is usually more closely associated with a town's animal control office, and often houses dogs that have been seized for whatever reason, or picked up as strays. The term "animal shelter" covers pounds and animal control offices as well, and is a much friendlier term without all the negative connotations associated with the "dog pound" label.

Two Types of Shelters:


Pets in a "kill" shelter are given a grace period (usually a matter of days) while they hope for adoption. Once that grace period runs out however, unless the shelter has room to spare, the animal is humanely euthanized, regardless of potential. Dogs and cats are also euthanized if they seem aggressive or are in very poor health. Kill shelters are not evil, they are, unfortunately a necessary part of life until pet owners become more responsible.


"No kill" shelters are similar to sanctuaries. Pets are not euthanized regularly, unless they are in very poor health, or dangerously aggressive. "No kill" shelters are almost constantly overflowing and often have animals that have been in residence for years.

There are literally thousands of dogs, of all ages, shapes, breeds and sizes currently in shelters that need homes. Every town has an animal shelter or dog pound that collects them. Remember that the dogs are there for many different reasons, not necessarily for reasons that are bad.

There is also a common misconception that all shelters impose a time limit on animals in their care. With many of the more progressive shelters, this is absolutely not the case.

As animal shelters evolve, the lines between animal rescues and animal shelters can become blurred. It's important if adopting from a shelter or surrendering to a shelter that you ask the organization to give specifics about their "kill policies."

Once you've decided to add a dog to your family, adopting a dog is one of the best and fastest ways to make it happen. Even if you want a purebred puppy, you can usually find one for adoption, rather than buy from a breeder. It might not be the instant gratification you want, but you likely won't have to wait for months like you would with a planned litter.


We recommend using www.petfinder.com

There you can search for organizations by zip code.

What Happens Next:

Once you enter the shelter, you'll be taken to spend some time with the adoptable dogs. Take your time to play with them, get to know a bit about them and how they react to you and towards others.

Ask the shelter workers any questions you can think of; they'll answer them to the best of their ability. Be prepared to answer questions as well. The shelter workers are going to want to know all about your home life and living situation. You must be completely honest! The workers do their best to match dogs with families and less than complete honesty could make for a less-than-harmonious relationship with your new dog.

If you prepare for your visit to the shelter, you'll help move the process along more smoothly. Things to bring with you:

1.The name and number of the veterinarian you'll be using.

2.Statement of permission from your landlord (if you rent).

3.A good attitude. (The workers do their best to find their dogs homes and will turn you down if they don't think your home will work out. They don't owe you a dog.) Cooperate, answer their questions, ask your own, and hopefully you'll be approved for a dog.

4.Money. (There will always be an adoption fee.That fee usuallly covers the vetting/immunizations/spay/neuter of that particular animal)

5. A collar and leash ( many shelters have a "shop" where you can purchase theses things once you have adopted a dog. I think it's actually to your credit if you come prepared with your own collar and leash.)

How Do I Know It's the Right Dog?:

This question might run through your mind, no matter where your dog comes from. Spend some time getting to know the dogs available for adoption, and make sure that you know what you are looking for in your new companion. If you don't find the dog that catches your heart right off the bat, you can always keep looking, and going back day after day. The dog that didn't arouse your interest might turn out to be the dog you want after he gets to know you better (and vice versa).

Another option that you might find more feasible, is opening your home to more than one dog, and taking them on as foster dogs. Most shelters are in desperate need of foster homes, and it's a great way for you to get know and experience more than one dog and find out what type of companion is most compatible with you, your family, your schedule and your lifestyle.


This article is the authored intellectual property of:

Doodle Rescue Collective, Inc.

Originally written and posted by DRC Founder/President Jacquie Yorke in January 2009, this article was stolen along with the original DRC website and URL and is currently being illegally plagiarized by Lynne Fowler of "Oodles of Doodles."

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Replies to This Discussion

I have to add that there are private rescue groups who have their own shelters. This is a goal for many rescues. There are private shelters which are state of the art facilities, usually much nicer than even your favorite doggie boarding facility or day care. These places are absolutely no kill and do not take every dog that comes along, so they are rarely overcrowded. They provide full veterinary care, behavioral assessments, training, education programs, and screen adoption applicants as rigorously as any private rescue out there. This is the kind of place Jack came from, A.D.O.P.T. in Naperville IL. The application was 5 pages long.
I would much rather have a dog in that place than fostered in some of the private homes I know. So it's important to understand that not all shelters are bad, and not all shelters allow anyone who applies to adopt an animal.
I'm glad that you mentioned this Karen. It's true. Just because an animal happens to be in an "animal shelter" does not mean that animal isn't being well taken care of or is in any danger.


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