Your pet cat Your pet dog
Pet Care

Unwanted and Uncared for Pets | Facilities: Animal Shelters and Pounds
Consider Your Responsibilities When Adopting a Pet | Why Spay or Neuter?
Pets Need Veterinary Care | Pet Collars | Protect Your Pet from Summer Heat
Protect Your Pet This Winter | Handling Lost / Found Animals | Giving a Pet Away for Free
Rabies | Whom Should You Contact If You Have a Question Relating to Animals?
I Wish for My Furry Friends | Pets Can Be Good for Our Physical and Emotional Health
How to Avoid Being Bitten by a Dog | Interesting Animal Links

Unwanted and Uncared for Pets

Unwanted and uncared for pets are any animal, mainly cats and dogs, that has strayed, become lost, or is owned by someone who does not wish to house, feed, water, give medical care and attention to that animal.

When a pet owner no longer takes responsible care of the animal, and that animal is left to fend for itself, many of these pets become lonely, hungry, and sickly. Some animals tend to run in packs. They may attack livestock, other animals, and humans, causing problems for farmers and homeowners. Some of these animals transmit diseases to other animals and to humans. Some of these unwanted and uncared for animals can become a nuisance to people. They may bark excessively or cause property damage. These animals may be shot, poisoned, drowned, run over by cars, abused, tortured, etc. Animals that do survive on their own for any length of time may eventually die of starvation, disease, injuries or the extreme changes in weather.

Facilities: Animal Shelters and Pounds

Many communities have a Humane Society, animal shelter, and/or pound to care for discarded animals. Some animal shelters are run by Humane Societies. They may or may not hold municipal contracts for animal control programs. Some animal shelters and pounds are run by the municipal agency in their area.

What Type of Animals are Brought to Humane Societies, Animal Shelters and Pounds?

Humane Societies, animal shelters, and pounds usually take care of unwanted, uncared for, stray or lost dogs, cats, kittens, puppies and other animals in need of care. Many of these facilities will take in any animal, or they will make arrangements with private individuals or wildlife authorities to care for the animal. Animals brought to animal shelter facilities can include birds, snakes, bats, rabbits, squirrels, ducks, chickens, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, mice, fish, ferrets, monkeys, horses, cows, pigs, skunks, owls, etc.

Bringing Pets to an Animal Sheltering Facility

Pets are brought to Humane Societies, animal shelters, and pounds by their owners who no longer wish to be responsible for their pets well-being. Some animals are brought to animal shelters by concerned citizens who find these animals wandering the streets.

Animals are also brought to animal shelters by law enforcement officers called Animal Control Officers. These officers must enforce the animal control, abuse, public health and safety laws in their community or state. These laws may vary in each community and state.

Some examples are as follows:

Many state, city, and county laws provide for the proper care of animals. For example, a law may state that animals must receive food, water, proper housing, weather protection, and veterinary care.

Animals cannot be fought or transported cruelly in a vehicle.

When people or pet owners are found breaking the animal control laws in his/her community or state, they may be contacted and spoken to, issued a warning or a warrant, or their pet may be taken from them and brought to the local animal shelter facility until a settlement is reached.

Handling animals at a Humane Society, Animal Shelter, or Pound

When an animal is brought to the Humane Society, animal shelter, or pound, the animal should be checked in, and a form filled out that describes the animal in detail. For example, color, age, sex, breed, where the animal was found, who brought the animal to the shelter, etc., are listed on the form. Health records and personality traits should be recorded whenever possible.

Each animal that is to be held should receive a collar and an identification number, and should be put in a cage in a holding area. Animals may stay in a holding area for minutes, hours, three, five, or ten days.

The holding time can be shorter or longer depending on the shelter's hold policies and the community's animal shelter law enforcement policies. While an animal is in the holding area, that animal's health should be observed. Also, the animal should be checked for identification, and lost and found files should be checked to try to find a lost animal's owner. If an animal has identification, shelters try to return the animal to their rightful owner. Owners who fail to provide identification tags for their pets or pets who have lost their identification tags make it very difficult for shelter workers to find the owner. When a animal's owner cannot be found or his owner no longer wishes to care for him, and the holding time for this animal has expired, a decision must be made as to whether an animal goes to the adoption floor or is euthanized.

"No kill shelters" are shelters that take in a limited amount of animals and entrust other animals into a foster care program. These animals are put up for adoption. If they are not adopted, they are allowed to live out their natural lives at the shelter. Some animal shelters or pounds may have policies or be subject to the "pound seizure" laws of their state or locality requiring the shelters to turn over stray dogs and cats to research laboratories and medical schools in order to practice surgery or to perform biomedical research and experiments on the animals.

Animals chosen for the adoption floor should be healthy and have a good temperament. These animals are given a second chance at life. All those concerned with the animal's welfare are very happy when a it is adopted to a good home, and given that second chance at life. Many animal shelter facilities require the neutering/spaying of all animals who are adopted to prevent more unwanted animals from being born.

Shelters and their policies may recommend that if an animal is sick, has a vicious or difficult personality, or has a personality that is considered to be dangerous, that animal is marked to be euthanized. But far too often, euthanasia is the only answer for the majority of animals coming to the Humane Societies, animal shelters, and pounds. Even if these animals are healthy and have a good temperament, they may be marked for euthanasia because there are too many animals and not enough good homes in which to place them.

Reports estimate that 70,000 puppies and kittens are born each day, as compared to 10,000 human births each day in the United States. Each year, approximately 12,000,000 dogs, cats, kittens, and puppies are left at animal shelters around the country. We can prevent this waste of life by having our pets spayed or neutered, and not allowing them to reproduce at will.

You can help. You can make a difference. Help the Humane Society or animal shelter in your area. Call your Humane Society or animal shelter to see what their needs are.

Humane Societies and animal shelters may need volunteers. They may need help with secretarial work and answering the phone. Many Humane Societies and animal shelters work on a limited budget. They appreciate donations of pet food and kitty litter, and can use many discarded items that you have around the house such as old tools, newspapers, towels, sheets, blankets, spoons, bowls, paint scrapers, garden tools, etc. Humane Societies and animal shelters almost always are in need of financial support so they can continue their work. For those of us who do not have the time to volunteer, money to give, or old items around our homes to donate, we can give of ourselves by spreading the word about being a responsible pet owner. We can educate our friends and neighbors. We can help to prevent this waste of life!

Consider Your Responsibilities When Adopting a Pet

Each year, many animals are received at animal shelter facilities because people acquired these animals without considering the responsibilities that come with owning a pet.

Before adopting a pet, please consider the following:

One must also consider that a pet places an additional burden on the household budget for food, grooming tools, collars, leads, flea and tick control, yearly checkups and shots by a veterinarian, worming when necessary, and emergency medical treatment. Pets should be spayed or neutered for their own health, and to help in preventing the animal population explosion our nation is facing today.

Pets should receive fresh food and water daily. They need to have proper housing. Most pets are happier and safer when kept at home, receiving the family's love and affection. A collar and identification tag should be worn by your pet, in case your pet should become lost. He cannot speak for himself, so you must speak for him by having him wear proper identification. All these facts must be taken into consideration before becoming a pet owner. A pet deserves to be loved and cared for for a lifetime. If you have more questions about pet ownership, call your local Humane Society, animal shelter, or your veterinarian.

Why Spay or Neuter?

As a result of pet overpopulation, approximately 8,000,000 pets will be abandoned and condemned to die in animal shelter facilities across the United States. Figures show that pet owners who allow their pets to breed at will are responsible for more than 70,000 puppies and kittens being born each day in the United States, as compared to 10,000 humans born each day in the United States. You can see from these outrageous figures that even if each human being born was to adopt one of these unwanted animals, there

Many animals will suffer from loneliness, starvation, disease, extreme changes in weather, wounds, poisoning, etc., and death may be the only peace these animals will ever know.

If you care for your pet, spay or neuter them. Don't  let your pet or his offspring be one of the millions of stray and unwanted animals. It would be far better for them never to have been born. We can stop this problem. It is up to us to have our pets spayed or neutered, and to spread the word to everyone we can about this unnecessary waste of life. These statistics come from The Humane Society of the United States.

Pets Need Veterinary Care

Each year, some pets find themselves unwanted because they require veterinary care. Some owners neglect to give their pets proper veterinary care. A responsible pet owner realizes the importance of veterinary care. He makes sure his pet receives a yearly check up,vaccinations, worm checks, etc., and if his pet should become sick or injured, he brings his pet to the veterinarian.

Your pet is a loyal, loving friend; a living creature that feels discomfort and pain just as you do. You chose him to be a member of the family, and he deserves proper veterinary care to prevent his suffering. If a pet owner feels he does not have the time or he cannot afford to take proper care of a pet, he should not have one. It is cruel not to provide proper medical care to prevent the suffering of this loving, feeling, creature when he is dependent on you to be a responsible pet owner.

Many concerned people involved in animal welfare realize that many of the animals coming to a shelter have had very little or no veterinary care.

Pet Collars

Each year, animals suffer from the improper use of a restraining collar. When your pet's restraining collar does not fit properly or a restraining device is used such as a stocking, rubber band, chain, wire, etc., your pet may suffer from choking or from the collar embedding itself into his neck, causing pain and injury. Only collars made for your type of pet should be used. When using a collar for your pet's identification tag, rabies tag, license tag or as a restraining device, a collar should fit comfortably around your pet's neck. It should not be too tight to choke him or cause pain or injury, nor should the collar be so loose that it will come off. Puppies and kittens should have their collars checked at least once a week, because they grow rapidly during their first year. Cats should wear an expandable safety collar, as they tend to catch themselves on objects when climbing. Chain type collars used for training and controlling dogs should be removed when not in use because this type of collar tends to catch itself on objects and can cause choking or strangulation. If you are not sure about the proper fit of your pet's collar or the proper type of collar for your pet, check with your veterinarian.

Protect Your Pet from Summer Heat

Don't let your pet suffer from the heat this summer. Protect your pet by making sure he has a well ventilated, shady area to go into and plenty of cool fresh water to drink. You can keep his water cooler over a longer period of time if you add ice cubes to his drinking water several times a day. Never leave your pet inside a parked car during the hot days of summer. The temperature inside a car can reach an unbearable 160 degrees in a matter of minutes on a hot summer day, causing your pet to suffer from heat stroke. Symptoms of heat stress may include collapse, unsteadiness, breathing difficulties, dazed expression, possible vomiting, or a deep red or purple tongue.

If your pet becomes overheated, cool him down immediately. You can do this by pouring cool water over his body or spraying him with a garden hose. Be sure to keep the water out of the nose and mouth area to prevent choking or possible drowning. You can also bring down your pet's temperature by placing cold towels over him. You must bring your pet's temperature down as quickly as possible to prevent brain damage, or possibly, death. After you have administered emergency treatment, call your veterinarian immediately for further instructions.

Protect Your Pet This Winter

Outside pets also need a warm, dry, draft-free place to stay during the cold winter months to protect them from the extreme changes in weather. Your pet's water bowl should be checked several times a day during cold weather, as water tends to freeze as the temperature drops. Puppies and kittens need special care during cold weather. They should be kept in a warm, dry, draft-free area. If you plan on raising your pet outside, check with your veterinarian as to when he feels you can move your pet outdoors. Old and sickly pets should be kept indoors when the weather is cold.

Each year, some pets suffer from poisoning by antifreeze (ethylene glycol). Antifreeze attracts animals because of its taste. If your car has a hose that is leaking this chemical or if you should accidentally spill antifreeze, it should be mopped up or watered down to prevent this chemical from poisoning your pet.

Never let pets roam during a snow storm. They can lose their scent in the ice and snow, and may not be able to retrace their steps and become lost. When pets go outside during icy or snowy weather, be sure to clean the pads of their feet if they have come in contact with salt or chemicals that melt ice.

During cold winter months, cats may be injured or killed as a result of being cold and cuddling up to warm car engines. Bang the hood of the car before starting it to wake up sleeping felines, and to be sure they are not inside the engine compartment.

The holiday season can also be dangerous to your pet. To prevent injuries to your pet, be sure your Christmas tree is secured in such a way that it will not fall. Holiday plants, if eaten, can be harmful to your pet. Keep all plants, ornaments, ribbons, candles, tinsel, light cords, etc. out of reach of your pet. Do not allow your pet to eat chocolate. A compound found in chocolate known as theobromine can be harmful to your pet, sometimes having fatal results. If your pet should ingest plants, chocolate, etc., call your veterinarian immediately. Keep your pet safe this winter.

Handling Lost / Found Animals

Each year, animal shelters receive hundreds of lost animals. Shelters have no way of returning these animals to their owners unless they can be identified in some way. Having your pet wear a collar with an identification tag is an excellent way identifying your pet.

If you have lost or found an animal, check with your local animal shelter. Give them a complete description of the animal that was lost or found. Shelters receive hundreds and thousands of animals each year from the general public, and animal control officers. Shelters can check their lost and found files to try to reunite a pet with his owner.

If you have lost your pet, the following may be of help to you:

Routine follow-up calls in all areas may be necessary until the pet is found. Always remember to give a complete description of your pet, and a phone number where you can be reached. Sometimes it takes months to find a pet and return it to its rightful owner.

If you have found a lost pet, you may follow most of the same measures. Never assume a found pet is an unwanted pet. Pets can be lost from their loved ones simply by accident. A child opening a gate and letting the family pet out is a common story.

Giving a Pet Away For Free

Did you know reports show that only two out of ten adult animals will ever find a truly loving home? Did you know animal care agencies receive complaints about animals that are being given away for free? Complaints received are about individuals running ads in the local newspapers offering animals free to a good home. The concern is that unsuspecting pet owners may give animals to dealers, who may sell these animals to research facilities, where the animals will be subject to pain, discomfort, stress. Unsuspecting owners may also give pets away to sadistic individuals. There are reports that confirm these concerns.

You can take actions to protect your pet. Commit yourself to your pet for his lifetime, and have your pet spayed or neutered to prevent his offspring from suffering a disastrous fate. If your pet should produce offspring or you no longer wish to keep your pet, but you want to find your pet a good home, find someone you know to whom you can entrust your pet's care. If you feel you must advertise in a local newspaper, be sure to interview and investigate the potential new pet owner carefully. Ask for his driver's license and make a record of his name, address, phone number and license plate number. Ask for the name of the veterinarian they plan to use. These suggestions may help to protect your pet and help you in finding your pet a good home. Please remember that if you cannot find a good home for your pet or his offspring, bring your pet to a humane animal shelter facility.


Each year, local health departments investigate many animal bite cases. The reason for this is because of rabies. Rabies is a virus that can be transmitted to humans and other warm-blooded animals from the saliva of an animal that is already infected with the rabies virus. The mode of transmission can be a bite, scratch, or abrasion from the infected animal, or it can be an open wound or mucus membrane being licked by the rabid animal. Rabies is a deadly disease. There is no cure for rabies.

All cats and dogs should receive routine rabies vaccination. Check with your local health department on how often your pet needs to be vaccinated against rabies. Dogs and cats are not the only animals that can spread the rabies virus. Foxes, bats, cows, horses, skunks, bobcats, and raccoons can carry the rabies virus.

To protect yourself and your pet(s) from this deadly virus, you must have your pet(s) vaccinated against rabies. Pets should be kept in a fenced area or on a leash at all times for their own protection. If you see any suspicious tame or wild animal in your area, report it to your local health department or animal control agency. Stay away from stray, wild, or injured animals. If you should find a stray or wild animal that has been injured, call your animal control agency. Don't keep, handle, touch or feed any stray or wild animals.

If you are bitten or scratched, wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water. Call your family doctor and the health department immediately for further instructions. If a wild animal bit or scratched you, capture and isolate the animal, if possible, and call your doctor and the health department for further instructions. If it was a domestic animal that bit or scratched you, contact your doctor and local health department for further instructions. If your pet is attacked by a wild animal, capture and isolate the wild animal, and confine your pet. Call your health department for further instructions.

Please remember when capturing an animal to be sure the head is in no way damaged. The head of the animal must be in good condition for laboratory testing.

Whom Should You Contact If You Have a Question Relating to Animals?

Do you have a problem relating to animals, such as a neighbor's pet is tearing up trash, a stray dog, cat, or other animal is staying around your home, or an animal has been injured or abused? Do you have dogs chasing livestock, dogs or cats digging in gardens, or other nuisance problems? You should call your local animal care agency. Some Humane Societies/animal shelters/pounds may be set up to handle such problems or you may need to call your local law enforcement agency to find out who in your area handles animal problems.

If you have found or lost a pet, call your local Humane Society/animal shelter/pound for further instructions. If you have been bitten or scratched by an animal, call your doctor and your local health department and ask for Rabies Animal Control. They will be able to advise you. If your pet is having a health problem, call your veterinarian. If your pet has an undesirable habit, call your veterinarian, Humane Society or animal shelter. They should be able to advise you. If you are interested in animal welfare, you can call your local Humane Society, animal shelter, and pound. If you are interested in finding out even more about animal welfare, trapping, lab animals, pound seizure, product testing on animals, etc. please contact The Humane Society of the United States or the American Humane Association. Check with your local library or the links below for other animal related organizations.

I Wish for My Furry Friends

I wish for my furry friends that they will find a home.

I wish for someone to love them, feed them, provide housing, medical care and companionship.

I wish for them to be altered to prevent their future offspring from facing the sadness, depression, the loneliness and cruelties of being unwanted; to be one of the millions of pets hoping for a home, knowing there are so many of a kind and so few good homes, and people who really care. For many of my furry friends, death will be the only answer. It will bring them peace, no more pain and suffering, only peace.

I wish for a good life for all my furry friends, and for those who do not find the good life, I wish for peace.

Linda Harris

Pets Can Be Good for Our Physical and Emotional Health

Doctors and psychiatrists have been doing studies for years on how pets affect our physical and emotional well-being. They now believe that owning a pet or having regular contact with a pet can be good medicine for adults, as well as children.

Studies indicate that just petting an animal can lower your blood pressure and create a general feeling of well-being, therefore, reducing stress in your daily life. Studies show that patients suffering from heart disease who own pets have a greater survival rate one year after hospitalization. Some doctors even believe that pets can help in the healing process of patients recovering from a variety of illnesses.

Patients realize they have a pet at home waiting for them. They know that their being in good health is necessary so that they can take care of their pet. Walking one's pet is great exercise. It can keep you and your pet physically fit and can help in preventing health problems.

No matter how you look at it, pets can bring much into our lives. They bring us love, companionship, improve our health, bring us laughter. They can make us feel safe and secure, and they can involve us in outside interests. Pets can be good for our physical and emotional health.

Note: There are different points of view involving animal care and welfare. The information in this webpage reflects the viewpoints of the author.

Humane Society of the United States
South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control - Rabies

How to Avoid Being Bitten by a Dog

Everyone knows a dog is man's best friend. And it is generally true. But every dog has the capacity to bite, and children are most often the ones who are bitten. Everyone, particularly children, should learn some basics about dog behavior and safety around dogs.

When Dogs Might Bite

How to Tell When a Dog Might Bite

What to Do if You are Threatened by a Dog

What to Do if You are Bitten by a Dog

Remember: Most Dog Bites are Avoidable!

Provided by the Humane Society of the United States

Interesting Animal Links

Site Map
Website Accessibility Statement

Clemson University wordmark