Here’s Why Animal Shelters Are So Important in Your Community

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Here’s Why Animal Shelters Are So Important in Your Community

If the thought of visiting an animal shelter seems unsettling, it’s important to understand that these facilities are a necessity, benefiting both homeless animals and the community. 

First and foremost, shelters are geared towards providing a safe haven for abandoned, stray, abused, neglected, or surrendered animals. Unlike rescue organizations, a municipal shelter does not have the ability to cherry-pick new cases; all animals are accepted regardless of health, background, age, etc. This leads to the never-ending overpopulation issue, which can make shelter an overwhelming experience for both animals and potential adopters.  

Feeling confused and out of their element in a shelter setting, animals may become excitable or hide when visitors arrive, so often some of the best dogs and cats are overlooked. To help calm an anxious animal, many shelters have meet-and-greet spaces, dog runs, and cat rooms to provide a quiet place for more of a real-life interaction between a potential adopter and cat or dog.  

But what seems to make or break a great adoption program is the dedicated staff and volunteers who work tirelessly to ensure as many animals as possible are cared for, vetted, and ultimately find their forever home. 

“By spending quality time with the animals, we learn about their personalities, likes, and dislikes. This helps us match a potential adopter with an animal that fits their lifestyle and family,” says Fiona Delgardio, volunteer at the Town of Babylon Animal Shelter. “Prior to any formalized adoption, we require all members of the household, including existing pets, to visit the shelter to make sure everyone gets along and that the new pet is a match. We develop relationships with the animals and become 100% invested in their wellbeing.”

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Shelters also offer opportunities for community members to volunteer their time, skills, or resources to support shelter operations, animal care, fundraising events, or advocacy campaigns. Many have developed creative programs such as “Seniors for Seniors” adoption events, reading to shelter pets, and even fundraisers such as the Town of Babylon Animal Shelter’s annual Secret Santa event.  

“By promoting adoption and engaging and educating the public, we reduce the population of homeless animals and prevent euthanasia,” says Delgardio. 

If you are at least 18 years old and interested in volunteering, most local shelters have a website and/or online volunteer application and require a very small time commitment. If getting to the shelter is an inconvenience, many are seeking foster homes as well. Contact your local shelter for more information.