The Importance of Animal shelters and Rescues in the U.S



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Importance of Animal Rescues


     When approaching the topic of animal rescues there are many varying opinions. Some believe they have no use and that the alternative of a high kill shelter is better because desirable pets are chosen and undesirable pets can be put down instead of paying for housing and feeding the animal for however long they would stay in the shelter. I, along with many others, believe that animal rescues and humane shelters give the opportunity of a long and happy life to an animal that may have either lost, or never had a real home and give them every chance to find a home with a family that loves them and not only thinks of the animal as a pet but as a family member. While supporters of euthanization for the purpose of lowering the costs of running a shelter
and having availaPic1ble cage space tend to focus on the business aspect of a shelter, they consistently overlook some of the main reasons shelters and rescues exist.

     There are three main types of shelters. The first is open admission shelters otherwise known as high-kill shelters. These shelters accept all animals regardless of age, size, health, and behavior. These shelters are the most common shelters and help get the most pets to the most families, but at the same time since the open shelters receive so many pets they have to euthanize many due to health and behavior issues as to not have any health problems spread through the shelter and to keep available cage space for more animals. While open shelters always provide an option for a homeless pet, they are often over crowded, poorly run, and may put down a dog that would not normally be aggressive but is only fearful because of its Pic3environment.

            The second type of Animal shelter is a limited admission shelter, otherwise known as a low kill shelter. The main difference between an open admission shelter and a limited admission shelter, is that limited admission shelters will not euthanize an animal depending on length of their stay or available cage space. Most limited admission shelters require an appointment to be made prior to giving up your pet to ensure that there is available cage space; they will sometimes even have a waiting list for cage space to ensure that the animal will be accepted at a time that the shelter can house them. Limited admission shelters will only euthanize pets for severe medical conditions or behavioral problems. Most limited admission shelters have intake interviews prior to releasing your pet to build an accurate description of your pet’s real personality rather than how they act in a stressful environment.

     The third type of shelter is a no kill shelter, which also have a very limited admission. No kill shelters usually do not accept animals without an appointment and thorough screening process. These shelters tend to be very selective with the animals they accept and will refuse animals over a certain age, with severe medical issues, or with behavioral issues. No kill shelters are generally only looking for immediately adoptable pets, which is both a good and bad thing. A positive aspect of these shelter is that a large percentage of all the animals that come through them are adopted and go to permanent homes, but at the same time they have substantially fewer animals come through them than other types of shelters.

     The other option for animal placement and adoption is an Animal Rescue. Animal Rescue Organizations are usually private and run by animal advocates and volunteers who want to find homes for all animals that come through the organization while avoiding euthanization. Animal Rescues will not euthanize an aniPic2mal to make cage space but may need to in the event of severe medical problems or uncontrollable behavioral issues. While they are a great alternative to shelters, these humane rescues are usually very small and are funded mostly by grants and donations. Both Shelters and rescues focus on lowering the number of stray animals on the street and rescues will usually spay or neuter any animal that comes through to help limit the number of strays on the street from increasing. Because Rescues tend to have less animals in their care, the process for adopting a dog from a rescue is much longer and thorough than adopting from a shelter. But because of this depth in the adoption process and the relationships that rescue staff have with the small number of animals, they will usually have very accurate profiles of all the animals in their care which can help families looking for a pet find one that fits in with their family. This in turn lowers the number of pets that have to be brought back to the rescue.

Those are practical aspects of shelters and rescues in pet adoption. But to fully understand the topic at hand it is necessary to take a step back and look at the idea behind rescues and shelters in the first place, finding homes for pets of all kinds and finding a new member of the family for millions of people in the U.S. According to the ASPCA about 7.6 million (3.9 million dogs and 3.4 million cats) “companion pets” enter animal shelters and rescues nationwide every year.  Approximately 2.7 million shelter pets are adopted each year, but at the same time another 2.7 million are euthanized. It is estimated that there are 70-80 million dogs (37-47% of all households have one or more dog) and 74-96 million cats (30-37% of all households have one or more cat) kept as pets in the U.S. These are huge number that show how much our pets have become part of normal life in the U.S.

            Even with all the information available on pets needing homes in the U.S, many people are unaware the amount of animals that are euthanized each year that would be able to live if they were adopted. While many people in the U.S do not currently own pets, if  1 out of every 120 Americans adopted a pet that would otherwise be euthanized, then not a single shelter animal would be unnecessarily put down that year. That is the effect people can have while working towards a common goal, if just 0.83% of all the people living in the U.S adopted a pet, we would save 2.7 million lives. That is a feat that if accomplished would change not only the lives of the animals saved but of all the families who can give their children a responsibility, have someone to go outside with, always have a happy face waiting for them when they get home, and having a new member to the family that will forever impact your home. “They might only be part of our lives, but to them we are their whole life.” (-Unknown), a quote that reminds us that giving these pets a home is not only a place for them to sleep and eat, but to have a person or group of people to focus their affection and attention to. Having a pet is a wonderful thing, and even more wonderful if you save a life in the process. If a pet is something you can have in your life, it is an incredible thing to do, so take a step towards saving an animal’s life and in the process you may notice yours will change for the better.