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.