Tag Archives: adoptible

Animal Shelters [TNR = Trap, Neuter, Re-Abandon]

4 Aug

Ok, I think we’ve established that Alley Cat Allies (ACA) are integral in promoting TNR, and also a bit sketchy as an organization. We’ve talked at length about the disputed history of TNR, the ACA’s domination of Google Search, their manipulation of language, their exaggerated timeline of “success” and we’ve covered the employee reviews of that non-profit organization. There is more to discuss regarding them, but let’s take a pause with the ACA, because this paper is not about them-directly. Yes, ACA is linked very closely with TNR, but it’s TNR that I want to focus on in my research. So we’ll take a pause on ACA and discuss some other issues with TNR before going back the the ACA’s many problems.

Animal Shelters:

Bottom line is animal shelters are chronically overwhelmed, under-funded, and under-supported by both politicians and the community at large.


There are too many animals and not enough shelters, people, or money to support them:

The following grim stats were gathered by dosomething.org, and are an example of the scope of the problem:

According to The Humane Society, there are about 3,500 brick-and-mortar animal shelters in the US and 10,000 rescue groups and animal sanctuaries in North America.

It’s impossible to determine how many stray dogs and cats live in the United States. Estimates for cats alone range up to 70 million.

Approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, approximately 3.9 million are dogs and 3.4 million are cats.

The main reasons animals are in shelters: owners give them up, or animal control finds them on the street.

Many strays are lost pets that were not kept properly indoors or provided with identification.

About twice as many animals enter shelters as strays compared to the number that are relinquished by their owners.

According to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP), less than 2% of cats and only 15 to 20% of dogs are returned to their owners.

Only 10% of the animals received by shelters have been spayed or neutered. Overpopulation, due to owners letting their pets accidentally or intentionally reproduce, sees millions of these “excess” animals killed annually.

25% of dogs that enter local shelters are purebred.

Each year, approximately 2.7 million dogs and cats are killed every year because shelters are too full and there aren’t enough adoptive homes.

21). https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-animal-homelessness


Costs incurred by the Shelter:

Running an animal shelter is expensive, and many shelters have to turn away animals due to lack of funds.  Shelters often have to resort to euthanasia if they cannot afford to keep an animal for the remainder of that creature’s life.

An approximate average cost of owning a feline is anywhere from $491.00 to $3125.00 for the first year and
subsequent yearly cost of $310.00 to $1169.00. (Foster & Smith). When it comes to canines the average cost of owning a dog for a first year $374.00 to $658.00 (www.icanimalcenter.org) and following years anywhere from $287.00 to 2485.00. (Foster and Smith).

Costs of owning a pet may include:  supplies such as food, bowls, litter, leashes, etc , vaccines, deworming, spay/neutering, preventative care like dentals, monthly medications such as flea medicine & heartworm, grooming. As an example, The total cost of simply animal supplies such as bowls, food, leashes, toys, collars, etc. for the Camden County Animal Shelter (CCAS) was $35,000, not including any form of Veterinary care. And the above list of potential costs of caring for a dog or cat was by no means, exhaustive.  And you have to think–that’s per cat or dog. See the above section for estimates of how many dogs and cats animal shelters house and multiply these costs.  The amount quickly becomes astronomical! 

The animals themselves cost money, but the physical shelter also costs money to maintain.  Since they are housing multiple animals they need to make sure that living conditions are suitable. This means that working heating and air condition units are an absolute necessity, along with utilities, feed storage, pest control, dog runs and shelters are just a few of the many things that need to be updated.  One example of routine shelter costs comes from Pearl River Township animal shelter.  In 2003 they had to update some of their equipment and published the costs. Pest control ran them $576, new dog runs and shelters $1,200, feed storage $1000, and A/C units $700 (Cashion).

There are still more costs of running an animal shelter: It is required by state law for animal shelters to carry liability insurance and workers compensation insurance in case a visitor and/or employee gets injured or bitten by an animal.  For the Camden County Animal Shelter, insurance ran $43,313 in 2006.  In addition, different kinds of licenses are required to run a shelter such as a kennel licenses, and those different licenses and fees can cost $298 and are required to be renewed every few years. (Egan, B).

Perhaps the most important cost a shelter has are its employees.  Without much money to support the needs of the animals, the salary of the shelter employees also suffers. Many shelters have their own on-site veterinarians along with executive directors, veterinary technicians, director of developments, general and operation managers, and animal control workers. All of them garner relatively meager salaries compared to those working in other areas of their field. From a national standpoint the average salary of the Executive Director (non-profit) is $51,146 and the Director of Development (Non-profit) is about $43,502. Veterinarian’s salaries are around $67,220 and their technicians receive earnings of approximately $25,018. General operations manager’s salary is $36,856, operations managers make $37,871, and animal control officers receive an income of approximately $30,723 (payscale). Animal shelter staff must be passionate about their jobs and their passion is what must drive them, not their salary (Germann, J). 

Animal Shelters are severely understaffed all due to lack of funds. It had been found that some larger shelters have a staff to animal ration of 1 employee to 600-1,000 animals, with an average ratio of 691 animals to one employee (Cashion, 2003). It is difficult to imagine that animals are getting the proper care, no matter how efficiently a staff member is working, with the sheer mass of animals one person is responsible for. 

Which is why volunteers are integral to a well functioning shelter. With regulations based on safety and (insurance liabilities) the type and quantity of volunteers may be limited.  Many volunteers are at the core of shelters and without them a shelter may crumble and unfortunately the animals are the main recipients of the repercussions of this occurrence. Without the care and attention these animals deserve, they are not getting an equal opportunity to find a home.  

Even if a shelter receives funding from local government based on taxes, it is not nearly enough to run a well-functioning kennel with all the proper necessities, resources, employees and supplies. Fundraising and donations are the main source of funds for those shelters as well as those (which are many) that do not receive money from the government. Depending on how well a shelter is at raising funds, has a direct impact on how well they are able care for and adopt out these homeless animals.


For many shelters the amount of debt they are faced with increases each and every year and piles on the debt they already encompass from past years.

Here’s an example of what sounds like a lot of revenue being exceeded by operating costs:  Total revenue and support for CCAS in 2010 was $101,232 in donations and $48,903 in grants ($150,135). The shelters total operating costs for 2010 was $1.2 million (1,049,865 in the red).

In a second example, compare to 2010 revenue and total costs for the Camden County Animal Shelter to their 2006 costs and revenue. In 2006 their total revenue reached $564,380 while their total operating costs were $548,099. This leaves a deficit of $16, 281 (Egan, B).

Because of all these overhead expenses, many shelters are in some sort of deficit year after year that never disappears. Monmouth County SPCA stated, “It costs approximately $250,000 per month to fund all the important programs of the MCSPCA. We need to receive donations of over $250,000 per month just to maintain normal operations throughout the year. Unfortunately, because the amount we receive usually falls well short of the minimum required amount, we operate at a deficit each and every month” (Germann, J).

                   22). https://rucore.libraries.rutgers.edu/rutgers-lib/38418/PDF/1/play




So you see the problem.  Next time we’ll talk about how animal shelters are funded