Shelters & Rescue FAQ

What is the difference between a rescue & a shelter? 

A rescue generally does not have a physical building; usually they have a network of foster volunteers who care for their animals in their own homes. Most are 501c3 charitable organizations who rely on donations to continue their work.

There are two types of shelters: private & municipal. A private shelter is funded by grants, donations, adoption fees and various revenue generating programming elements, a private shelter may or may not have a municipal contract to provide shelter for community animals.   A municipal shelter is run by the city (or county) in which its located. Municipal shelters are only allowed to intake animals from their own city, as they are funded by the taxes of that city’s residents. Some shelters accept owner surrenders from their citizens, some do not. Each of these types of animal welfare groups are key to keeping our pets safe, however each is limited to the functions defined for them by their Board of Directors or by their city council, so it is important to know which is which when inquiring about services. 

What is an ACO (Animal Control Officer)?

An ACO works for a municipal shelter & is charged with responding to requests for help with animals ranging from wild animals, dangerous animals, or animals in distress. If the animal is injured, an animal control worker will have to be able to determine the extent of the injury by examining the animal, as well as determine medical treatment. An ACO also responds to neglect or abuse issues in the community.  

ACOs are critical to the safety & wellbeing of both our human community members as well as our furry ones. 

What does it mean when a shelter is “no kill”? 

No-kill is defined as saving every dog and cat in a shelter who can be saved. It means healing the animals who can be healed, treating behaviors that can be treated, and prioritizing safety and a high quality of life for both pets and people in our communities. 

It means reducing the number of animals entering shelters through spay/neuter education and services and increasing the number of animals leaving shelters through adoption and other programs that lead to them finding safe places to call home. 

When animal shelters and the communities they serve value those objectives, euthanasia is used only as a last resort, when an animal is suffering from an irreparable medical or behavioral condition. No-kill means that an end-of-life decision for a pet is an act of mercy rather than one done for convenience or lack of space. 

A 90% save rate for the animals entering a shelter is the common-sense benchmark for measuring lifesaving progress. Typically, the number of pets who are suffering from irreparable medical or behavioral issues that compromise their quality of life and prevent them from being rehomed is not more than 10% of all pets entering shelters. 

What does it mean if a shelter is not “no kill”? 

 When a shelter is not “no kill” it means they have not reached a 90% save rate. However, they are not called a “kill shelter” since that it suggests that shelters bear full responsibility for killing pets when that responsibility rests with the community as well. This label prevents people from supporting such a shelter, when in fact support is often exactly what that shelter needs. 

Every animal shelter needs adopters, donors, volunteers, and community advocates to increase lifesaving and become no-kill. Not supporting a shelter simply because it is not no-kill often ensures that nothing will ever change there. 

Some shelters have yet to embrace the no-kill philosophy simply because they have never known another way of doing things, while others are afraid to ask for help for fear of being criticized or attacked. Therefore it is essential for communities to create collaborative spaces committed to lifesaving, so that shelters feel supported and open to change. 

Why is fostering a pet through a local rescue or shelter important? 

Opening your home to a foster pet saves lives, plus it frees up space for another pet to be rescued. Fostering a pet, whether for days, weeks or months may be short-term, but the results are long lasting — not only to the pet, but to you, too. Studies have shown that having a furry friend around can reduce anxiety and help relieve stress — not to mention brighten even the dreariest days. 

Here are just a few ways fostering helps. 

  • A shelter can be a noisy, stressful place, especially for shy and frightened animals. Providing a loving, quiet, safe space goes a long way toward preparing an animal for adoption.
  • Orphaned or newborn animals, as well as those with special medical needs or behavioral challenges, benefit greatly from the one-on-one attention they receive in foster care. 
  • Fostering helps pets get accustomed to life in a home, smooths their way toward adoption and helps set them up for success in their forever homes.
  • If you are thinking about adopting a cat or dog, fostering is a great way to find out if an animal is a good fit for you and your family. In many organizations, foster parents get first dibs on the animal they are fostering.