Animal Shelter

Animal Shelter

Terryn Sears, Reporter

An animal shelter or pound is a place that stray, lost, abandoned or surrendered animals, mostly dogs and cats and sometimes sick or wounded wildlife, are kept and rehabilitated. While no-kill shelters exist, it is sometimes policy to euthanize animals that are or not claimed quickly enough by a previous or new owner. In Europe, of the 30 countries included in a survey, all but five permitted the killing of healthy stray dogs. Critics believe the new term “animal shelter” is generally a euphemism for the older term “pound”.

The word “pound” has its origins in the animal pounds of agricultural communities, where stray livestock would be penned or impounded until they were claimed by their owners.

In the United States there is no government-run organization that provides oversight or regulation of the various shelters on a national basis. However, many individual states regulate shelters within their jurisdiction. One of the earliest comprehensive measures was the Georgia Animal Protection Act of 1986, a law enacted in response to the inhumane treatment of companion animals by a pet store chain in Atlanta. It provided for the licensing and regulation of pet shops, stables, kennels, and animal shelters, and it established, for the first time, minimum standards of care. The Georgia Department of Agriculture was tasked with licensing animal shelters and enforcing the new law through the Department’s newly created Animal Protection Division. An additional provision, added in 1990, was the Humane Euthanasia Act, the first state law to mandate intravenous injection of sodium pentathol in place of gas chambers and other less humane methods.