If you are looking for a pet, skip the pet store and head over to an animal shelter. If you need more information about animal adoption you can log onto the Humane Society website or head down to a local animal rescue in your city or county and speak to a volunteer. Before looking for your new dog or cat there are some animal shelter terms that you should become familiar with.
Animal Rescue or Shelter - An animal protection foundation that fights against pet cruelty. There are no-kill animal shelters which find homes for animals and do not put unwanted ones to sleep.
Adopt - To take care of an animal as one's own. Animal shelters allow people to adopt puppies and kittens for little to no cost.
Stray - A pet that roams or wanders without a definite home. Dogs and cats become strays after being abandoned by their original owners.
Pound - A facility where stray animals can wind up after being found on the street, rescued or given up by their owners. Foster homes are needed for these animals so that they do not have to be put to sleep.
Breeding - Reproducing offspring. People should have their pets fixed to avoid accidental breeding and unwanted offspring.
Abuse - Pet rescuers save dogs and cats from abusive situations and owners. They will often rescue them when an owner has been abusive, hurtful and neglectful to an animal. Animal abuse is prevalent at puppy mills and it is imperative that these puppies and kittens be rescued and sent to a loving home.
Animal shelters deal with the problem of unwanted pets and sometimes large animals and livestock. They may take in anything or specialize in a specific species such as dogs or horses.
Many counties in the United States have a humane society. Animal control may also operate a 'pound' where homeless animals are held until they can be adopted. Unfortunately, many shelters eventually run out of space and may euthanize animals to make room. Adult animals are generally harder to place than puppies and kittens. An animal control facility also holds lost and stray animals until their owners can be found.
Rescues may operate in the same way as shelters, or as networks that employ foster homes to take care of the animals. Most rescues are species specific and many focus on a specific breed, especially cat and dog rescues. Rescues are generally set up as charitable foundations and may have a board of directors. A county or city facility, on the other hand, may be arranged as part of the local government or through the local humane society.
Rescues and shelters may also deal with cases of cruelty and abuse. Abusers are often expected to surrender their animals to a shelter or animal control center. Many animals that end up in shelters are abandoned, others are given up by their owners for financial or personal reasons. Some rescues may also help owners place animals without actually taking physical custody.
Animal shelters are something of a sad necessity. In cases of deliberate neglect or abuse, animals may have to be held as evidence and their recovery photographically documented.