How to start an animal shelter

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How to start an animal shelter and other ideas for working to help animals

For the most part, the running of an animal care facility falls under the jurisdiction of the local government. According to the Humane Society website, creating a private care center can be an extremely challenging endeavor. Instead of looking to start one's own facility, they recommend speaking with local officials about the need for adequate services for your community. Head over to the Animal Control Management: A Guide to Local Governments webpage to find out more.

Those not deterred and still looking to set up their own care center will need to possess a great deal of knowledge on the subject matter, as well as resources to move the project forward. They will need accounting skills, management experience, contacts within the industry, and an underlying ability to make things happen. For those who have these particular attributes, below we'll give you a quick overview of how to start an animal shelter.

How It Starts

First and foremost, you'll need to ascertain what type of services are available locally. Is there a facility? If so, does it meet the humane needs of your community? You can visit other care centers that can give you ideas on how things should be running and ways in which to improve upon current practices.

This is usually the point where you may begin having second thoughts. This is natural as it's such a large and complex undertaking there should be questions and fears associated with the project. There are other ways in which to lend a hand, with programs that provide support for foster care, fundraising, education, and legislative actions, among many other things. You can even become a friend and volunteer your time toward helping abused and neglected dogs and cats and will go far in providing experience within the field.

Get Experience and Form a Solid Team

Become a volunteer -- if you haven't already -- and see how centers work. If you find yourself lacking in a particular trait, add team members who know about management, accounting, fundraising, animal health, law, and more. Look for those who can also provide (or they can find others who can) as much funding as possible for your new endeavor.

Visit Other Centers and Complete Research on Best Practices

Visit a variety of facilities, within and beyond your city. There, you'll be able to glean pertinent information on what makes certain places more effective than others. Take a look at the workforce, management practices, policies held by the facilities, size and scope of each place, building type, and what works well and what might be changed to create a better functionality.

As with anything, it's quite important to understand the positives and negatives of a business so that you can incorporate what has worked for others while cutting some of the more negative, or burdensome, ideas out of the equation. You should photograph, videotape, and take notes during your time investigating other places.

Understand What Place You Want To Start
  • Municipal animal shelters: Funded by taxes and user fees.
  • Privately funded non-profit shelters: Will normally accept all animals and in many instances will be forced into euthanizing due to space constraints.
Write a Mission Statement and Start Planning

In order to become incorporated as a non-profit, you must put your ideas to paper in the form of a mission statement. For more information on these intricate next steps and the choices you can make, head over to the website to learn more. Here, you'll learn about marketing, raising the necessary funds to get your project off the ground, and the various laws and documents you may need, depending upon what choices you make for your center.

As well, it will be important to come up with different policies regarding euthanasia, adoption, volunteering, and even future thoughts on your organization.  Thus, how to start an animal shelter isn't just for those who have good hearts and want to stop cruelty in this world. It's for those people who are steadfast in their devotion and have the prerequisite skills necessary to pull from a marketing, business, financial, law, or other such background in order to come to the aid of animals in need.

Resources: Start a Shelter. Common Questions about Animal Shelters.

Above photo attributed to Official U.S. Navy Imagery

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