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Unit Five: Animal Shelters and Solutions
Lesson Overview

The American Humane Society estimates that there are about 3,500 animal shelters in the U.S. In addition there are private shelters, funded by donations, and non-profit rescue groups, some of which focus on particular breeds, others accept animals based on need.  Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, a no-kill organization for animals with no other chances, estimates that 9,000 animals a day are euthanized in US shelters.

Shelters that are publicly funded will euthanize for space, meaning that perfectly adoptable animals are killed to make room for the next group of animals.  It is not unusual for a big city to receive a hundred animals a day.  Some shelters are called “no-kill,” meaning that they do not euthanize for space (only for humane reasons, for sick or injured animals that can’t recover, or are too aggressive to be adoptable.)  The no-kill movement is growing, but often these shelters are not “open admission.”  This means that if they don’t have the space, they won’t accept a stray or owner surrender.

There are many reasons owners surrender their pets.  Sometimes they have lost their housing, or are not allowed to have a particular breed in their new location.  Sometimes they can’t afford medical care, but a common reason is that pets are untrained, and are demonstrating behaviors the owners don’t want to deal with, or don’t know how to train them to stop.  In the context of so many great and deserving animals in shelters, it is imperative that the public be educated on a variety of issues, such as the importance of spaying and neutering, the horrors of puppy mills, and how basic training can improve the relationship between people and their pets.









































In this course, we encourage students to volunteer for the animal welfare organization of their choice.  There is so much that can be learned by volunteering at a shelter or rescue organization.  For those who wish to practice their animal massage, Reiki, Tapping, and Energy Healing methods, even brief healing, and socializing interventions can help make the difference between animals cowering in their cages, who are thus overlooked by potential adopters, to dogs who greet them, make eye contact and seek connection.

Evaluating Temperament:

Energy and Personality Testing of Animals in Shelters

In Unit Five, we offer our 100 point criteria for evaluating an animal’s nature and personality.  For those working or volunteering in shelters or helping to pair potential adopters with animals, this can help you to evaluate the match between an animal and a new family.

Kittens and cats have the hightest euthanasia rates in shelters.

Pitbulls, one of the sweetest breeds, have the highest rate of euthanasia in shelters.

One partial solution to the shelter problem is prison programs where dogs are trained by prisoners to become more adoptable.  There are approximately 159 Canine programs in prisons in 36 states (in the US).  When 61 prison supervisors were surveyed about their satisfaction with the programs, 60 said they would recommend this program to other prisons.

Some of these programs use rescue dogs from shelters, rehabilitate them and then they are adopted to forever homes.  Some prison programs (such as Puppies Behind Bars) work with puppies, preparing them to become service dogs.  Youth correctional facilities that utilize dog training have resulted in zero recidivism according to a current study on these programs.  

In addition to teaching inmates employable skills in the 60 billion dollar a year pet industry, these prison-dog programs teach good work habits.  Working with dogs builds good character, a sense of responsibility, patience, increased compassion, focus, forgiveness, nurturing, healthy routine and hygiene, and healing from trauma. 


Helping a dog that had no hope or potential to survive in a shelter, to learn and become highly adoptable, builds self-esteem and creates a sense of purpose, often sorely missing in the inmate population.  These programs help inmates make a meaningful contribution both to the dogs, whose lives they are transforming, as well as providing a life-changing companion dogs for those who will later adopt them.

Dog Training Programs in Prisons


in Animal Rescue, Shelters

and Animal Welfare Organizations

Many lives are saved -- human and animal --

with prison dog training programs.

Violence in prison is elminated in the population that works with the dogs. 

They rehabilitate the humans as much as the dogs.

Ethical Issues  & Animal Welfare 

There are myriad ethical issues around animal welfare;

pet ownership, laboratory research, how animals in the food supply are treated, puppy mills, hunting, unfair breed prejudice, and extermination – just to name a few. 


In this class, we encourage students who care about these issues to do their own research, form their own opinions, and develop strategies for education and legislation to better protect animals of all species.

The "NO Kill" Shelter Movement

A "No Kill Shelter" aims to have a live adoption rate of 90% or higher, only euthanizing animals for health reasons, or extreme aggression.  The No Kill shelter movement has been championed by Nathan Winograd (see his documentary film Redemption) and a few shelters in the US and around the world are moving in this direction.  Some shelters which have "NO Kill" policies do not have open admissions, meaning they will only accept animals who they believe have a good chance of being adoptable, thus forcing difficult cases to be sent to shelters which will euthanize them.   Many shelters working towards low-kill have excellent foster programs for special needs animals.

One shining light in the No Kill Movement is the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, in Kaneb Utah, U.S. which will take difficult cases and provide heroic medical intervention, and is willing to provide lifetime sanctuary for animals who may never find the right forever home.

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is expanding into a few other cities in the U.S. and is a role model for what is possible.

Moon Bears are kept in captivity their entire lives to extract their bile as there is a belief that it leads to virility.  Animals Asia has been rescueing the Moon Bears who have never had a taste of freedom.  See their journey of healing, which is truly inspiring.

The Human-Animal Connection BLOG for Lectures for Unit Five:

If you are enrolled in this class here are your 


1. Read this Unit Overview

2. Read Two (or more) Unit Blog Posts

3. Answer the JOURNAL Questions Assignment

4. Take the Quiz (if you are doing for credit)

5. Then Proceed to the next unit:


Thank you for visiting the

Human-Animal Connection Website

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