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Help for Problem Shelters


Theres Something Rotten in My Town

Most animal shelters and humane societies are staffed with dedicated, caring individuals and operated with the animals best interests at heart. But should you ever come across a substandard organization

Help for Problem Shelters


  • Document problems before taking action. Write times, places and specific problems in a journal. Be specific. Be reasonable. Be sure.
  • Talk to the shelter staff and management. Focus on apparent problems and learn why they exist. Then explore ways to help remedy them: improve phone service or animal care by volunteering; prepare a grant proposal to fund kennel improvements; consult with local veterinarians about establishing a program of health care.
  • Rather than pointing fingers, try to improve the shelter from the inside. Offer to join the board of directors if your skills make you a likely candidate to organize volunteers, to oversee a fund-raising event. Encourage other like-minded people to join you.
  • If you meet resistance or indifference, you might take your concerns to the board of directors; or, if a municipal shelter, to the city or county administrator who oversees it. Enlist the help of sympathetic people with clout (public figures, donors, media folks) and expertise (veterinarians, animal welfare advocates).
  • Rather than expending energy on a seemingly fruitless struggle, direct your energies elsewhere. Work to support a humane society that does have strong and effective programs. Or organize a group of individuals to fill a void in your community: establish a nonprofit low-cost spay/neuter clinic; fund spay/neuter surgeries for low-income dog and cat owners; establish a network of foster homes that will rescue animals, have them neutered, set adoption criteria, and place them in permanent homes.


The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
424 East 92nd Street
New York, NY 10128-6804
Contact The ASPCA for Throwaways, a spay/neuter video available in English or Spanish ($15); adoption posters and public service announcements (cost varies). The National Shelter Outreach department provides materials, resources, training, referrals and advice to animal protection organizations across the country and maintains a library of resource articles on Email

American Humane Association
63 Inverness Drive East
Englewood, CO 80112
AHAs offerings include national and regional training conferences for shelter workers; Protecting Animals magazine for shelter staff; a comprehensive shelter Operations Guide; large publications catalog (free); public service announcements and posters (cost varies).

Humane Society of the U.S.
2100 L Street, NW
Washington, DC 20037
HSUS offers a free publications catalog; Simple Things You Can Do To Help End Pet Overpopulation booklet; Be a Pal (Prevent a Litter) kit; Animal Sheltering Magazine for shelter staff; national annual training conference and trade show; breeding moratorium campaign packet.

Adapted from The Hands-On Handbook
Produced by PAWS, PO Box 1037, Lynnwood, WA 98046

Courtesy of
424 East 92nd St.
New York, NY 10128-6804
(212) 876-7700

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