Shelters run by a state or local government are typically funded through taxpayer dollars and cover the needs of the rescue dogs until adoption including food, shelter, spay, neuter, vaccinations, microchipping, vet care, etc. Shelters have the legal obligation to pick up any dog who is a stray. Additionally, owners have the option to surrender their pets to the shelter.
They’re government run, so they don’t operate as a non-profit, and they’re able to charge a lower adoption fee, typically between $75 and $100, which often will cover the cost of spay / neuter, vaccinations and a microchip. These shelters have a physical facility with cages, kennels and crates.
Many shelters are “kill shelters”, which means a dog is typically only held for 3-7 days before they’re euthanized. Therefore, the urgency to adopt these dogs is much more intense. You should not assume that at a “no kill” shelter dogs are not euthanized. Any dog that shows aggression, serious behavioral issues or any medical health conditions will be euthanized. So many of the minor behavior issues can be easily fixed with a certified behaviorist, often a lot of the issues go away once the dog is out of the stressful shelter environment. You can sometimes see their true personality shine through if you take them to the meet-and-greet grassy area or for a short walk (if the shelter allows). Remember to approach each dog very slowly and with care and compassion. Never put your face near their face and do not allow your children to play with them right away.
If you are considering adopting from a shelter, make sure to ask the volunteers any questions you have about the dog. Many amazing volunteers spend time with the dogs and can tell you important and helpful tips which can help you make a decision, or may help you once you get your dog home. You may also consider volunteering, which is a great way for you to get familiar with many dogs who may be potential candidates for your family to adopt.
Reputable show breeders will require people to sign a contract stating that the dog needs to be returned to them. That is why well-bred show or pet puppies from reputable show breeders do not end up in shelters. Generally, the few that do, are there because the purchaser did not inform the legitimate show breeder that they were giving the dog up.
Breed rescues will generally rescue any purebred or partly bred individuals from shelters and bring them to the parent breed rescue. The exception to this is dogs with a bite history or aggression. Typically, you will see very few of these dogs in a shelter setting.
What you will see is hundreds of thousands of mixed breed “designer dogs”, poorly bred puppies from “backyard breeders” and pet stores. These puppies and dogs are victims of circumstance and birth. Often times these dogs and puppies were born in the south or west and are transported to the northeast and Pacific coast for adoption.