Interesting Facts About Animal Shelters

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Cities need animal shelters to help keep the numbers of stray cats and dogs at a minimum. The Humane Society is the biggest supporter of animal protection and a great many animal shelters around the United States are affiliated with them. All animal shelters rely on donations and other forms of local funding to stay open. They often offer low-budget options for pet owners for yearly shots and even spaying or neutering.


The first animal shelters were created in New York in 1894 shortly after the first anti-animal cruelty laws were approved. At first, the laws were just to prevent the harming of labor animals, but the Humane Society rallied to have it also include cats and dogs. By 1888, 37 of the 38 states at the time passed similar laws. By the 1960s, the humane society switched to focusing on adoption of cats and dogs, rather than just protection. Currently, animal shelters adopt out thousands of pets to proud owners every day.

Shelter Estimates

According to the Humane Society, an estimate of six to eight million dogs and cats stay in animal shelters each year. Three to four million of those dogs and cats are euthanized each year. These numbers are not accurate because there has yet to be any standard for record keeping within each animal shelter. Fortunately, these numbers have come down dramatically from the 12 to 20 million euthanized in the 1970s.

Controlling Numbers

Owners who can no longer afford them leave behind many pets in shelters. Animal Control brings in many strays as well. Unfortunate the low number of pet adoptions helps keep the number of animals in shelters high. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has tried to help keep these numbers down by promoting public education services and supporting spaying and neutering programs.

No Kill Shelters

According to the Humane Society, the HSUS strives to have at least one no kill shelter in every community. However, this isn’t always possible as even these shelters have limited space. Within these means they always attempt to take the best care of the animals under their care. When they adopt their animals out, they always make sure they are spayed or neutered. (See Reference 4)


It is the goal of all animal shelters to adopt out as many of their animals as possible to good homes. They attempt to keep the cost of adopting down and the fee often includes shots and spaying or neutering. The fee differs from shelter to shelter. Shelters are very careful of who they let adopt an animal and have a long application process, often including references and mandatory home visits.

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