Why You Should Always Adopt a Pet From a Rescue or a No-Kill Shelter

So you’ve decided to adopt a pet. Now what?

Find a shelter. There are four different kinds of shelters: Pounds, kill shelters, no-kill shelters, and rescues. Sometimes it’s difficult to decide which type of shelter to adopt a pet. Since pounds and kill shelters are some of the scariest and the most depressing places on earth, it’s only natural for you to want to sweep in and rescue an animal from one of those places.

That may not be a good idea. If you adopt a pet from a pound or a kill shelter, you have to give them money. The more money those places have, the longer they’ll be around. It would be better to give a no-kill shelter or a rescue your business. We animal lovers want to see a world where no pounds or kill shelters exist, right? Well, you have the power to help make that happen.

Animal pounds are government-controlled facilities, and they have to utilize the 5-day federal hold rule, where they have to hold an animal for more than 5 days. Once those 5 days are up, a pound can do whatever they want with the animal – release it to a rescue, sell it to a new owner, surrender it to a research lab, or euthanize it. Kill shelters are a lot like animal pounds, but they’re privately owned.

No-kill shelters, well, don’t euthanize animals (unless they’re severely ill, injured, or considered unfit for adoption). They go above and beyond to locate new homes or sanctuaries for all the animals that come in. Rescues do that too, but they usually specialize in a particular species or breed. While no-kill shelters typically keep their animals caged up at their facilities, rescues have foster parents who volunteer to take in animals until they’re adopted into forever homes. The best part about no-kill shelters and rescues is that they rescue animals from pounds and high-kill shelters! If you adopt a pet from a no-kill shelter or a rescue, you’re indirectly saving an animal from being euthanized or surrendered to a research facility! Every time a no-kill shelter or a rescue adopts out a pet, they’ll get to free up some space to save another animal from an unfortunate ending.

Think about this… if everyone in the world decided not to adopt a pet from an animal pound or kill shelter and instead went to a no-kill shelter or a rescue, what would happen? Pounds and kill shelters would eventually diminish, while no-kill shelters and rescues would flourish. Pounds and kill shelters could even be willing to surrender more pets to no-kill shelters and rescues due to not having enough money to house all those pets.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you think it would be better to adopt from a no-kill shelter or a rescue? Why or why not?

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  1. I think you’ve way over-simplified this. While many “no kill” shelters go above and beyond, many simply are no kill by controlling intake. I know of others that really don’t save pets from their local kill shelters, but simply import them in from other communities where they have a nice selection of “highly adoptable” dogs.

    Meanwhile, there are some pounds and lower-kill shelters that work their butts off to save lives, even as open intake facilities save a lot of lives. I know of kill shelters in communities with small budgets that save as many lives as no kill shelters that have 5-6x their budgets because they operate with sense of urgency the limited intake shelters don’t have.

    I guess the bottom line is you should do more research than that, and look for an organization that is maximizing its resources to save lives (and not raising more money for non-life-saving things), know how the organization gets its animals, and how they care for them. I think you’ll find good and bad across all four groups.

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