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Animal shelters, or what used to be known as pounds, are either governmental or private organizations that provide temporary homes for stray, surrendered, or abandoned pet animals. They most often house dogs and cats. The animal is kept at the shelter until he/she is reclaimed by the owner, adopted to a new party, placed with another organization, or euthanized. The goal of most animal shelters is to provide loving and humane care to animals until they can be given a second chance in a new home.

Unfortunately, resources are seldom adequate to support the large number of animals taken in by these organizations. As a result, animals that are not claimed by their owners, or that have temperament or health issues that cannot be corrected or treated within the resources of the organization, are often euthanized. Shelters that receive a disproportionate number of animals compared to available adopters may also euthanize animals because of space concerns.

A small number of shelters have chosen to be "no-kill" facilities, which support healthy and adoptable pets for the remainder of their lives or until they are adopted. However, as funding is limited, the number of animals that can be accepted by these organizations can be low.

Adopting a pet from a shelter is one of the most charitable choices a person can make. In addition, you are receiving a "one of a kind" pet that very likely will repay your generosity with years of loving companionship.