was this posted before? if it has, can someone please merge it in :p

by BabyReba

OK, someone suggested a while ago that someone define this for people who don't know the difference, and magnum's recent posts in which he interchangeably refers to humane shelters, rescues, PETA organizations, and animal shelters has urged me to spell out a few of the things that distinguish each kind of organization.

Animal Control or municipal shelters: Run by city or county government, they are usually the folks in charge of picking up strays, enforcing animal-control ordinances, housing animals while cruelty trials are going on, etc. Animal Control often runs an adoption facility in which dogs who are abandoned by owners or picked up as strays may be offered up for adoption to the public. This is usually a facility in which animals are euthanized after a specified amount of time if no one comes forward to adopt them (a week, a month, etc. depending on space available at the shelter) and/or if the animal is deemed unadoptable for some reason or other. Generally, animal control facilities are overrun and get crowded fast, so they have to euthanize a lot. Sometimes animal control facilities require you to fill out rudimentary applications to adopt a dog so that the dog can be licensed and they can identify it if it comes back to the facility. This agency is government-run and paid for with your tax dollars.

Humane Societies: Independent, nonprofit organizations that are not affiliated with one another and make their own operating rules. Some contract with local governments to provide animal-control services, usually when a municipality does not have enough money in the budget to run its own animal control facility. Humane societies are run on private donations and grants they receive from philanthropic institutions. Some are very strict about adoption rules, some are not. Some are well run organizations that do a lot in their communities, some are not. Every humane society is different, and each has its own bylaws and boards of directors (just like any other nonprofit organization). In order to find out what your humane society is like, you should visit and ask for a tour and talk to the people there because there's no way to $#@!ume they are one thing or another without going to visit--you may have a humane society that rocks, has great staff, cares a lot about the dogs, or you may have one that sucks and treats you like crap when you come in. Many humane societies do not accept strays--they only take owner surrenders. And most humane societies do euthanize when they run out of space, if an animal does not p$#@! a temperament test, or after an animal is up for adoption, without generating any interest, for a specified amount of time.

Rescue organizations: Usually all-volunteer groups, sometimes well organized, sometimes not. These organizations may just be one person acting independently, or they may be larger networks of people who operate together. Some are IRS-recognized nonprofit organizations, some are not--rather they are just people who pay expenses out of their own pockets and operate without many donations. Not all rescue organizations are good--in fact, some are horrid, and I urge everyone preparing to deal with a rescue to really examine its practices, goals, and success rates before adoptiong from that group. When an animal control facility fills up, they often will call rescue organizations to come and "pull" adoptable dogs so they do not have to be put to sleep. When a humane society has a dog that is at risk of being put to sleep because it's been there too long or is special needs or is deteriorating at the shelter, they often call rescues to take that dog. Rescues are usually the last resort for dogs on death row who have not been adopted. A good rescue will put the dog into a foster home, make sure the dog is up-to-date on shots and vet care, try to give the dog some rudimentary training, evaluate the dog for aggression, and then (if the dog has now shown unacceptable behavior/aggression issues) offer the dog up for adoption to people willing to go through their adoption process. Some people don't like dealing with rescues because of the adoption applications/home visits, and that's fine. But each group makes its own rules and sets its own criteria for adoptions, main goal is to get the dogs into safe homes that will not let the animals they've rescued from death end up on death row again. Hence the term "rescue."

PETA: An animal-rights group. Does not believe anyone should own pets, as they don't believe humans should exploit animals. Supports banning of pit bulls, opposes fur wearing and meat eating, uses guerrilla tactics to get attention and make waves in media.

And that is my Dummy's Guide to the Difference Between Animal Control, Humane Societies, and Rescues.

I hope this helps someone . . . anyone.