Animal shelters are places where unwanted, stray, or abandoned animals are provided a home, mostly a temporary one, until a permanent home can be found. If it is impossible to place an animal for adoption, the unfortunate animal is mostly euthanized. Most shelters do have a No-Kill policy, but in these cases they usually limit their intake.

Many animal shelters are usually privately funded and can do with all the help they can get from the local community. If there is an animal shelter in your area, you can consider making a donation or, if they allow it, volunteer your services.

Running an Animal Shelter
Animal shelters are required to adhere to the health policies in their particular community. However, economic constraints make it difficult for a shelter to operate on a hygienically desirable level. This is where local volunteering comes in handy. You can pitch in and try to provide the animals with the best care possible.

Adoptions
There is usually a specific amount of holding period, which varies from shelter to shelter. Once an animal is found, local advertisements are made to locate the original owner. If nobody comes to reclaim the animal, the animal is then offered for adoption. Once the animal shelter authorities are satisfied with the credentials of the new owners, the pet is given away for a fee. This amount generally covers the cost of caring for the animal, any medical treatment that was required, its vaccinations, and spaying or neutering costs.

However, there are other reasons for charging an adoption fee. Firstly, if prospective owners can't afford the adoption fee, they mostly likely won't be able to take care of the pet's needs. Secondly, quite a few people equate their pet's worth by the amount of money they paid to acquire it – the more the money, the better the pet's chances of being well-looked after and not abandoned.

Statistics
Every year more than 6 million cats and dogs are taken in by animal shelters and more than half of these have to be eventually euthanized. It is not practically possible to find good, responsible homes for all these animals.

Quite a few of these animals are stray and quite a few have been abandoned by their owners for various reasons. Often people buy pets without knowing the first thing about pet care and training, and when the adorable puppy grows into a large dog, that is difficult to control and depletes financial reserves, he/she is cast out. Pets with serious medical conditions are also abandoned many times. Some people have pretty cut and dry economic minds and, even if they can afford it, will shirk from splurging on a $500 treatment for a $250 animal. These cold individuals would rather rid themselves of their ill pet and get themselves a new one.

Spaying and Neutering
There are enough unwanted cats and dogs around, so there is no point in bringing more in the world to face the same abandonment. So unless you're sure of finding good homes for all your puppies and kittens, it is advisable to not breed your pets, better yet to get them spayed or neutered. Most animal shelters follow a strict policy of neutering and spaying the animals that come into their charge.

Euthanasia
Animal shelters are usually run by people who really like animals and so euthanizing the animal, especially if the animal is young, healthy and friendly, is a very difficult decision to make. However, it becomes necessary when the animal shelter does not have sufficient funds or the required manpower, to look after all the animals that are brought into the shelter. There are some fine animals that, unless adopted, have to be sadly put down. If you are looking to add a pet to your family, please consider adopting one from your local animal shelter.
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Reverse socialization refers to the act of nursing injured or abandoned animals to health and training them to survive in a natural habitat.
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