Thursday, November 6, 2014

Five Things You Probably Never Knew about Animal Shelters

1) Animal Shelters are individual organizations; there isn't an umbrella organization that creates policy or that a shelter has to answer to.  

 "We adopted him from your _______ location."  At HAWS we hear things like this all the time. 
People are often amazed when we tell them that HAWS is our own organization and we aren't affiliated with other shelters. 

While some shelters have a variety of campuses within a general area, there is no national organization that oversees all of us.  And while we may occasionally work with other shelters on projects, exchange ideas with one another, and sometimes transfer animals, we aren't the same organization at all. 

2) Shelters can be government run or a private non-profit. 

It seems to be a common perception that animal shelters are government run entities that are run off of a tax base.  While some shelters are (usually called "animal control" facilities), many shelters are not.  It really depends on the specific facility.

HAWS is a non-profit organization that is run by a member elected board of directors.  The majority of our funds are obtained through donations and fundraising efforts.  The only money we get from the tax base is by contracting out our services  to many Waukesha County municipalities to handle such things as stray animals and holding animals that have been confiscated from their owners through allegations of neglect or abuse. 

3) Shelters don't necessarily have any authority to investigate neglect or abuse cases. 

 An animal control officer or humane officer is the person, besides a police officer, who would investigate allegations of neglect or abuse to an animal.  These are people who have been specifically trained to know the law as it pertains to animal welfare, and are trained in animal care and behavior.   They are also endowed with legal authority to conduct investigations, issue citations and file charges.

Because HAWS is a privately run non-profit we are not a government agency.  The people who investigate neglect and abuse cases in Waukesha County are Humane Officers employed by the county.  HAWS works closely with these officers since we're a holding facility for animals removed from homes through legal action, and also a bite case quarantine facility.  But if we get calls from people wanting to report neglect or abuse of animals in the community we refer them to Waukesha County. 

4) Not all shelters take in stray animals. 

Government run shelters will take in strays since as an animal control facility that is a large part of their purpose.  Non-profit animal shelters vary depending on their policies and the contracts they may have with area municipalities.

Shelters that chose to be what's called in the animal welfare industry "Limited Intake", take in only those animals that they have space for and that they feel they can place.  They usually don't offer stray services because to do so could mean that their intake would exceed what they're capable of housing.

The policy of an open admission shelter is to take in any unwanted animal from their community no matter how adoptable or unadoptable it is, what physical condition it is in, or how friendly or aggressive it may be.  HAWS is  run as an "Open Admission" shelter and part of our mission is to provide stray services to municipalities that want to contract with us.

5) Some shelters only take in dogs and cats, others take in a variety of animals.  

HAWS is lucky to have the space and resources to be a truly open admission shelter and we take in just about anything that can be kept as a pet.  We always have rabbits, and almost always have guinea pigs.  Additionally many times you can find birds, small rodents and reptiles at HAWS looking for their forever home!

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