Purpose of an Animal Shelter

An animal shelter provides a safe and caring environment for abused and abandoned animals.
An animal shelter provides a safe and caring environment for abused and abandoned animals. (Image: Cat dog friendship image by ftelkov from Fotolia.com)

According to the ASPCA, there are approximately 5,000 animal shelters across the United States. These animal shelters play an important role in the lives of millions of animals. This role will help determine whether an animal will live or die. Animal shelters are the link between homeless animals and the people wanting to adopt them.


The main purpose of an animal shelter is to provide a safe and caring environment for abused and abandoned animals until they are adopted. Many of these animals were rescued from cruel circumstances. They had been neglected, physically abused or deserted by their owners. Without animal shelters, these defenseless creatures would likely be left to suffer and die. Missing pets often end up in shelters as well. Those who have lost an animal should visit their local animal shelter in hopes of reuniting with their pet. Shelters give animals a second chance to find stable loving homes.

Adoption Services

The goal of an animal shelter is to place neglected and unwanted animals in caring homes. The adoption process can be a lengthy task, as shelters want to ensure that they place animals in the right homes. Before going up for adoption, an animal will go through a series of health and behavior tests. If the animal fails, its behavior will be further assessed. If the animal passes, it is ready to be adopted. Many shelters require the potential owner to fill out an application. The application will be evaluated and, if approved, the shelter will suggest an animal it believes is the right match for you.

Population Control

Many shelters spay or neuter animals before they are put up for adoption. The cost of the surgery will be included in the potential owner’s adoption fee. Some shelters offer low-cost spay/neuter programs to both the adoptive owner and the general public. Sterilization is a preventative measure to make certain that the adopted animals will not add to the animal overpopulation crisis. Millions of animals are euthanized each year due to the lack of caring homes. There are simply too many animals, which makes it impossible to find homes for them all.


A number of animal shelters provide educational programs for the general public. These programs are implemented to raise awareness about animal cruelty and to teach how to be a responsible and loving pet owner. Public and classroom events are utilized to stress the importance of showing respect and kindness to all living creatures. Many shelters focus on educating children about respect and compassion for animals. Teaching children at a young age about the humane treatment of all living things will help them grow into responsible adults.


Preventing animal cruelty will reduce the pain and suffering of many helpless animals, but shelters cannot do this alone. Shelters depend on the general public for monetary donations, supplies and cruelty reports. You can help prevent animal cruelty by reporting cruelty instances, volunteering or making donations to your local shelter, and teaching your children how to be kind to animals. You also can set a good example for others to see. Be a responsible pet owner by spaying or neutering your pet, taking your pet to the veterinarian when he is sick, and providing him with food and fresh water.

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