Education Station

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We recently adopted an animal from my local shelter that we later found out was sick. Why did the shelter allow a sick animal to be adopted?

The HSUS believes that animal shelters should open their doors to any animal in need. However, when shelters do provide haven to all animals, they accept animals of varying health levels, many of which arrive with no medical history. Some of these animals may not exhibit symptoms during their stay at the shelter and may only show signs of illness once they have been placed in a loving adoptive home.
Also, in any large-scale kennel situation, whether it is a boarding kennel, a breeder, a retail outlet, or a shelter, any number of transmittable ailments can be passed among animals confined to a common living area. Due to funding constraints, many shelters are unable to test incoming animals for certain diseases.
Communities are encouraged to support their local animal shelters so they are able to provide the best care possible for the animals they assist. If you have a concern about an animal you've adopted that is sick, be sure to consult your veterinarian and talk to the shelter management.

How many animals enter shelters each year? And how many are euthanized?

The HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) estimates that animal shelters care for between 6-8 million dogs and cats every year in the United States, of whom 3-4 million are euthanized. This is certainly a tragedy. There are simply not enough responsible homes for all of these wonderful, innocent animals. At this point in time, it would be impossible to humanely house every unwanted animal in the United States.

Why aren't all shelters "no kill" shelters?

The HSUS believes that limited-admission animal shelters, commonly called "no kill" shelters, can play a role in helping homeless companion animals find responsible, lifelong homes. However, since these shelters are limited in the number of animals they can accept and care for, we feel strongly that there needs to be an animal shelter whose doors are open to all homeless animals in every community. Too often, stray animals suffer from starvation, disease, poisoning, abuse, injuries from traffic accidents, attacks by wildlife, and severe weather. If not spayed or neutered, they bring more innocent animals into their world of suffering. Although the HSUS does not shelter animals, they do believe that humane euthanasia of homeless companion animals is preferable to the harsh lives and slow, painful deaths they face when they must fend for themselves outdoors. Millions of dogs and cats enter shelters every year in the United States, but according to the best estimates available, only about 25 to 35% (2-3 million) of these animals are adopted. Currently, it would be impossible to humanely keep all of these homeless animals in shelters.

I need to give up my pet, what do I do?

Many pet-related problems can be frustrating, and you may feel that relinquishing your pet is the only solution. But before you take that drastic step, be aware of the wealth of resources available to help pet owners such as yourself deal with problems that can seem overwhelming.
If your reason for giving up your pet is behavior problems, we urge you to visit and read the behavior tip sheets, which may help you resolve those problems.
Please read HSUS' "Guidelines for Finding a Responsible Home for a Pet" for information on a variety of options.

Why does my local shelter require that all adopted animals be spayed or neutered?

Because of the needless breeding of dogs and cats, coupled with irresponsible pet ownership, shelters continue to receive countless unwanted companion animals every year. Between six and eight million dogs and cats enter shelters every year in the United States, but according to the best estimates available, only 25 to 35 percent of these animals are adopted.
To understand from a shelter's perspective why all animals should be sterilized, read the article, "Please Don't Breed Annie."

Why do shelters charge an adoption fee?

Because shelters must be able to cover the costs involved in caring for the animals they house, they charge fees for adoption services. These costs include feeding, grooming, vaccinations, medications, and in some cases, spaying or neutering. Many shelters [such as Orphan Pet Oasis] depend on donations to cover these costs, as they are not profit making organizations.
Although adoption fees are needed to run shelters, they also serve another purpose. The decision to acquire a pet should be made very carefully. Individuals need to be ready and willing to pay for inoculations, veterinary exams, emergency treatment, spaying or neutering, licensing, and food. If a relatively small adoption fee causes the prospective pet owner concern, then he or she very well may not be prepared to make the financial commitment required of responsible pet owners.

I was denied an adoption and I want to know what to do.

Because animal shelter adoption programs strive to find responsible, lifelong homes for animals in their care, making such matches requires knowledge of the needs of both the animals to be placed and their prospective adopters. The purpose of adoption policies is to place suitable pets with responsible persons in order to avoid situations where pets are neglected, abandoned, mistreated, or simply "mismatched" with adopters. When a mismatch occurs, adopters often return the animal to the shelter; pass the pet on to another, perhaps unsuitable, caretaker; or simply abandon him.
Adoption policies are in place to protect the animal and ensure a happy match for the adopter. Having a pet is a lifetime commitment. Cats and dogs can live for 20 years. Unfortunately, there are people who view companion animals as disposable or replaceable possessions. This is a pattern that only temporarily gives an animal a home, which is unfair to the animal, demoralizing to shelter staff, and counterproductive to the purpose of animal care and control in the community.
Although declining an adoption is not always an easy or popular decision, it is sometimes necessary to ensure the most responsible, permanent placement for the animal.