Are Animal Shelters Concentration Camps for Pets?
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Are Animal Shelters Concentration Camps for Pets?

Are animal shelters cruel. Why do animal shelters kill pets? Why are pets put to sleep in shelters. Does PETA kill pets? Is keeping pets in cages cruel? Are animal shelters pet prisons? Do stray dogs suffer? What happens to homeless dogs?

Some pet owners and animal lovers wonder about animal shelters, are they just cruelly warehousing pets? Are they no different than the concentration camps of the Holocaust? While it should be noted that every animal shelter is different, and may follow slightly different rules it is an unfair judgment to consider them as being the same thing as concentration camps for pets.

In Places Without Animal Shelters

Animal shelters exist because without them unwanted pets would be wandering the streets, as they do in many communities, or third world countries, where shelters do not exist. In many cases the population of animals becomes such a burden; a danger, or health problem, that people in the areas take the matter into their own hands, often throwing animals off bridges, or into deep pits. In some areas people make a game out of shooting strays, or running them over with their cars. People set out poison as another method of controlling unwanted pet populations.

You note the dog pictured above, not only has mange, but a gun shot wound in its shoulder.  As cruel as warehousing pets in the animal shelter may seem, it is a far better solution than letting them roam the streets where people take matters into their own hands.

Why Can't Shelters Save Every Pet?

Members of the public often become irate when they hear statistics on how many animals are euthanized in an animal shelter. Sometimes these statistics are used negatively to discredit a particular shelter or agency, for example PETA was accused of euthanizing more than 90% of the animals surrendered to them, but first of all PETA is not in the pet “rescue” business, and second of all, if more people were willing to adopt a pet, more pets could ultimately be saved.

Not every shelter has the luxury of being “no-kill”, most are open admission, meaning if they run out of room they have to cope by euthanizing some pets in their care. This is a great distinction between animal shelters and concentration camps. Hitlers goal was to get rid of people, the animal shelter would much rather see pets get adopted than have to euthanize them.

With more animals brought to most animal shelters than are claimed (picked up by their owners) or adopted, the way they deal with it is to either turn animals away – as most no-kill shelters do, or to euthanize some of the animals who have been there a long time, or who are unlikely to be adopted out.

Rules on Euthanasia

Unlike Hilter, who probably had no rules, shelters do have rules and guidelines to follow. When stray animals are brought to an animal shelter, they must wait at least 72 hours before the animal can be considered legally theirs, after that time they can euthanize it, or have it prepared (vaccinated, wormed, vet checked) for adoption. If the pet is deemed to be a purebred (often having a breeders tattoo or microchip) the shelters may have to wait 10 days.

Of course few shelters have euthanasia daily, for most it is once, or twice a week, and unless they are terribly full they do try to give each animal as long as they can. Once an animal is vet checked, vaccinated, and wormed, the shelter does not want to euthanize it, since that would be a waste of the money they have put into the pet, the goal is to have the animal adopted, rescued.

Why do Animal Shelters Use Cages?

When pets are first brought into a shelter their temperament and health is unknown, they must be caged for this reason. As well many animals, when under stress, fight, caging keeps them safe. It is possible to house more cats in several cages in a room than it would be to have the cats loose, although most shelters do allow the cats out of the cages for regular exercise.

Some shelters are lucky enough to have larger rooms where some pets can be out of the cages.

photo source

If too many pets are loose in one area they tend to become anti-social to humans, bonding more with each other. As well if one is sick (diarrhea, or vomit) it may be hard to determine which pet it came from.

Final Words

One of the best solutions to overwhelming shelters with pets is to keep your own pets spayed and neutered so they do not add to the pet population. As well, when looking for lost pet, check the shelter first. If you wish to get a new pet the animal shelter is well recommended and should be thought of as a “second chance” for pets, rather than a death sentence.

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Comments (6)

Great information about a sensitive subject. Voted up!

Every animal shelter is different in how they care for companion animals in their care. We have some of the best right here in the Colorado Pikes Peak region. One of the things that really surprised me to discover shortly after moving here is that one of the largest shelters in the area actually has volunteers that take their dogs out for walks in the public every day. I discovered that when I noticed a dog being walked wearing a coat that said "Please Adopt Me." Talking with the young woman who was walking him, I discovered that hee was a shelter dog.

Very nice article

Valuable article.

That is the right word, "concentration camp" for our local government animal shelter but the private ones are better.


Shelters that have volunteers who exercise and socialise pets are quite common. I've been doing that for our county shelter for five years and I am just one of many. Dogs that see people regularly aquire skills that make them more adoptable and they are less likely to forget the commands they already know.