Unwanted animals abound in modern society. Stray dogs and cats; puppies, kittens and baby rodents produced by unwanted pregnancies; injured bears; and exotic birds that outlive their masters -- all often face difficult fates. Many organizations exist throughout the United States to provide better lives for abandoned, neglected, abused or otherwise unwanted animals.
The most obvious places to take unwanted animals are animal shelters. Animal shelters exist in cities and small towns throughout the United States. Some maintain affiliations with large organizations, such as the Humane Society, while others operate independently. Though animal shelters most commonly deal with dogs and cats, they accept all manner of unwanted animals, from rabbits to rats, turtles and domesticated exotics such as hedgehogs. Shelters don’t accept unwanted wild animals, such as raccoons, skunks and foxes.
Wildlife refuges exist predominantly in rural areas or on the fringe of suburbia. Set on large parcels of land, these organizations take in injured, unwanted, abused or neglected exotic animals, wild animals or pets. Wildlife refuges rehabilitate injured or abused animals and work on socializing feral animals, such as stray cats and dogs. Animals fully rehabilitated may be reintroduced to the wild, while others live out their lives in refuges. Refuges accept a diverse array of animals, such as cats and dogs, birds, bears, snakes, large cats, deer, foxes, raccoons, badgers, hawks and eagles, and moose.
Animal Rescue Leagues
Animal rescue leagues specialize in taking in, rehabilitating and finding homes for specific types of unwanted, abused or neglected animals. Bird rescue leagues focus on caring for wild and domestic birds. Some organizations focus on specific types of birds, such as parrots. Rescue leagues exist for types of animals within all major categories. For example, nearly every type of dog has at least one rescue league dedicated to it, such as those for St. Bernards, pugs, greyhounds, Labradors and Chihuahuas.
Other Places to Take Unwanted Animals
Some veterinarian’s offices or animal hospitals take unwanted animals from clients. When a vet office or hospital accepts an unwanted animal, it generally act as a go-between, taking in the animal for its safety and well-being but eventually transferring it to a shelter, rescue or refuge. Always contact a vet’s office or animal hospital before leaving an unwanted animal on its doorstep.
Sanctuaries exist for some animals. Sanctuaries are similar to wildlife refuges but cater to a specific type or breed of animal. Dog sanctuaries, for instance, can be large areas with a number of employees, in which unwanted dogs live out their lives. Sanctuaries sometimes take animals about to be euthanized from kill shelters. These organizations differ from shelters in that they serve as final destinations for animals, not adoption centers.