Celebrating Animal Shelters, This Week and Year-Round

By on November 8, 2011 with 0 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

There are about 3,500 local animal shelters in the United States (representing about a fifth of all animal protection organizations or agencies), and no single entity runs them all—or could possibly run them all. Three-fifths are private charities, and the remainder are municipal or county facilities, typically referred to as animal care and control operations. They have been and remain part of the critical infrastructure for animal welfare in America, and it’s one reason why, for the 15th year in a row, we’re celebrating National Animal Shelter and Rescue Appreciation Week this week.

Orange kitten in a crate
Bruce E. Stidham
Adopt your next cat, dog, rabbit, or other pet
from your local shelter or rescue.

The HSUS has always been a leading voice for animal shelters in America. We promote adoptions (through the Shelter Pet Project advertising campaign with the Ad Council and Maddie's Fund, and so many other programs), assist local groups in responding to animal emergencies (whether natural disasters or human-caused crises like ramshackle puppy mills or hoarding cases), conduct professional training (through Humane Society University or Animal Care Expo), publish Animal Sheltering magazine (the bible within our field), and offer online resources and grants and other services. We provide both direct support through a variety of means and we also aim to professionalize the field, with the goals of eliminating the euthanasia of healthy and treatable dogs and cats and promoting the best possible care for companion animals everywhere.

It’s bizarre timing then for the latest misleading attack from the so-called Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF), which claims that The HSUS should basically go out of business and pass all its resources to animal shelters (as if the other animals at risk or in crisis—the 99 percent who are not in shelters—don’t matter one whit). In hearing this claptrap, you’ve got to consider the source. It comes from none other than Rick Berman, a Washington public relations operative and lobbyist whose entire business is centered around attacking some of the most important charities and government agencies in America. He’s a man who knows nothing about animal shelters or protecting pets, but whose campaign against The HSUS is funded by animal abuse industries he won’t even identify.

Here’s a phony group that defends seal killing, puppy mills, factory farming, and just about every other major abuse of animals, but masquerades as some sort of friend of animal shelters–even though it has no programs or spend formulas to benefit any animal care organization in the world. While his phony CCF and HumaneWatch attack HSUS, Berman uses other front groups to attack Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Black dog at animal shelter
Michelle Riley/The HSUS
Learn how to support your local shelter.

The problems facing animals are incredibly varied and complex, which is why The HSUS tackles large-scale issues that affect billions of animals: puppy mills, factory farming, animal fighting, the killing of seals and other animals for the fur trade, the trade in wildlife, duplicative or unnecessary testing and research on animals, captive hunting, and so many other abuses. These are essential fronts of action and campaigns for animal protection. At the same time, we provide direct care for more animals than any other organization in the country—more than 57,000 animals so far this year—partly through our network of sanctuaries and our national and international veterinary services programs.

If animal protection is to succeed, we need both a focus on community-based animal care and rescue, but also national and international campaigns to help animals in crisis and to prevent cruelty before it occurs. If either strut were removed from the animal protection superstructure, our movement would be damaged at its core.

Most donors to animal protection charities give to multiple charities—both local and national, and that’s fortunate for animals. This week, we send a special shout-out to these local animal sheltering and rescue groups and urge your support for the best of them.

To get you started, take a look at our fun new video about shelter pets and our list below of ways to support your shelter or rescue group.


How you can help:

-Adopt a shelter pet. Find your next pet online at theshelterpetproject.org.
-Promote pet adoption. Become a fan of the Shelter Pet Project on Facebook at facebook.com/shelterpetproject.
-Volunteer. Helping animals at a shelter or rescue organization can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Look on local groups’ websites for opportunities or visit VolunteerMatch.org.
-Donate funds or supplies. Shelters and rescues are often in need of towels, toys, and other supplies for the animals. You can also start a collection of pet items from family, friends, and coworkers.
-Foster a pet through your local shelter or rescue. You’ll help free up space at the shelter and give a homeless pet a leg up to get adopted.
-For more ideas, visit humanesociety.org/sheltersrock.

Animal Rescue and Care, Companion Animals, Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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