So, what are they?
Type 1: Municipal Animal Shelters
Municipal animal shelters are required to take in any lost/stray animals, and many take in surrendered animals as well. They’re funded with taxpayer money, so their main purpose is to protect the public, meaning they have to take in all stray dogs, regardless of health, personality, or any other attribute which may make them difficult to adopt. Also, since they’re under local government, shelter staff are civil servants who may or may not have experience with animals.
Type 2: Private Animal Shelters
Private shelters aren’t affiliated with national organizations like the SPCA or Humane Societies, even if they contain “SPCA” or “humane society” in their title. While those working at private shelters may have been trained by people from the Humane Societies, they establish their own policies and procedures. Many are dependent on donations, so they often work with the interests of their communities in mind. These shelters are not required to take in surrendered animals and may often turn away animals which are not highly adoptable.
Type 3: Foster Based Rescue
Foster based rescues operate completely differently from shelters and humane societies because adoptable pets are housed with a "foster family" that comes to understand the dog’s personality in a home environment, after they have time to become more comfortable. There is no physical location for the rescue. Often, the foster family commits to keeping the dog for a certain period of time while the rescue covers full medical care. Even though it may take a little longer to adopt out a dog, foster based rescue makes it easier for a potential adopter to understand the dog’s personality.
Type 4: National Organizations (SPCAs/Humane Societies)
National organizations, such as the SPCAs (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and Humane Societies, fight for the protection of all animals. On top of rescuing animals, they also have services that extend to education and policy. The ASPCA has an adoption center in NYC, as well as a database of animals in local shelters around the US to adopt from. Volunteers for the ASPCA are also required to have extensive training for positions such as adoption counselors, cat or dog volunteers, foster caregivers, and more. The HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) connects volunteers with local opportunities to help out with animal issues, such as community outreach, rescue and fostering, and volunteer veterinary services.
Hopefully this provides clarity.
Regardless of the type of rescue chosen, it’s important for potential adopters to research the organization they are supporting before bringing home a new family member!
Author: Arden Lee (intern)