What Is the Future of Animal Shelters in the US?

While animal shelters were once considered a bleak, rundown place to house stray pets, strides are being made to change the animal adoption industry as we know it.

How Have Animal Shelters Changed in Past Decades?

Decades ago, an animal shelter was more likely to resemble a concentration camp, providing animals with no more than the basic necessities needed to get by until adoption or euthanization. Today, many animal shelters now represent hope as their purpose and mission are being redefined to support unwanted, abused, or neglected pets in need of a good home.

To understand the trends of the future, it’s important to grasp the big picture of how animal shelters were structured years ago.

  • In the 1970s, the Humane Society confirms that euthanasia rates and shelter populations peaked; roughly 100 cats and dogs were killed per 1000 people. Fortunately, it was around this time that the first affordable spay and neuter clinic opened in Los Angeles to help control pet overpopulation.
  • In the 1980s, pet shelter populations were under control and even declined in some areas.
  • In the 1990s, pet sterilization became routine, and cat and dog shelter euthanasia rates dropped another 10% from 1970s estimates.

Today, the number of household pets in the US has more than doubled in the past 40 years. American pet owners are now more aware than ever before about animal welfare issues; animal shelters in the US spent roughly $2.4 million on animal welfare in 2007.

Animal Shelter Trends for the Future

Experts agree that changes still need to be made in the current animal shelter system in the US. It is the goal of organizations like the Humane Society that no animal in a shelter will be euthanized if it is healthy and adoptable.

As a result, no-kill animal shelters throughout the US are on the rise, intended to retrain and rehabilitate unwanted pets to save their lives. No-kill shelters are targeted specifically at up to 75% of shelter pets that are considered “unadoptable” because of behavioral issues.

Many animal shelters hold fast to the belief that a solid spay and neuter program is the key to decreasing numbers in animal shelters and preventing overpopulation. As animal shelters reach out to local communities to promote pet sterilization, fewer animals will end up in shelters. As a result, funds can be stretched to rehabilitate unwanted pets in a no-kill setting so that they can be placed in good homes.

Where to Find No-Kill Animal Shelters in the Austin Area

Close to 4 million adoptable pets are euthanized every year to control animal shelter populations. This is precisely why so many animal lovers are now advocating no-kill animal shelters that refuse to euthanize animals that are eligible for adoption. In a no-kill shelter, euthanasia is only used for pets that may be dangerous or terminally ill.

How a No-Kill Animal Shelter Works

Most no-kill animal shelters heavily advocate spay and neuter programs to keep stray animal populations at a minimum. According to recent research, low income families are less likely to spay and neuter their pets. With these types of community programs, spaying and neutering becomes more affordable for families of all income levels to prevent pet overpopulation.

No-kill animal shelters also focus heavily on pet adoption programs to provide shelter animals with a loving home environment. Many no-kill animal shelters will often extend their hours for special adoption events in the evenings to cater to working families that may be interested in adopting a pet.

Last but not least, no-kill animal shelters provide families with education, affordable veterinary care, and pet behavior training to prevent an animal from being surrendered to a shelter again. A retention program will ensure that an animal in need is placed in a good home and will stay there with the right tools for acclimation.

3 No-Kill Shelters in Austin

Austin locals can support a good cause and find an adorable pet to take home with one of these reputable no-kill animal shelters:

  1. Austin Pets Alive: The shelter is located on West Cesar Chavez at the Town Lake Animal Center; they also have a cat adoption center location and gift shop on Windsor. Interested pet owners can adopt a rescue dog or cat by browsing the listings online or attending a local adoption event in the city.
  2. House Rabbit Resource Network: The HRRN, located in Austin, is a nonprofit organization that promotes rabbit rescue as household pets. The organization is dedicated to providing education about companion rabbits, supporting rescues and adoptions, and endorsing rabbit welfare. Available rabbits are listed through the official website, and pet owners can complete an online adoption application for approval.
  3. PAWS of Austin: The Protection for Animal Welfare Services is a nonprofit animal rescue organization in Austin that offers shelter for unwanted or stray pets. PAWS is unique in that it specializes in Great Danes. Interested pet owners can browse available pets on the official website and complete an adoption application prior to approval.