What’s the difference between a humane society/SPCA, rescue, municipal pound and satellite adoption centre?

Humane Society/SPCA
This generally refers to an organization dedicated to the betterment of animal welfare. They usually run a shelter and an animal adoption program to find new homes for abandoned, mistreated and/or surrendered animals. They also conduct education in their community and are often mandated to enforce provincial and federal animal cruelty laws.

Refers to the physical building where animals are held when they are being put up for adoption. Usually run by an organization such as a humane society, SPCA or municipal animal services. Good shelters not only do comprehensive physical exams on all the animals that they receive, but they also do temperament testing to ensure that all animals available for adoption will be safe members of the community.

Rescue organization
This is an animal rescue organization that is usually run out of an individual’s home or by a network of individuals fostering animals until they are adopted. Some may concentrate on a certain breed of dog or cat.

This is a municipal animal shelter. Some municipalities contract their local humane society or SPCA to provide the pound service and some are run independently from the humane society. Pounds generally take in stray animals and keep them on average three business days to give owners a chance to claim their lost animals. Many pounds will then offer the animals for adoption.

Satellite Adoption Centre
A satellite adoption centre is a pet store or other location that does not sell cats and dogs, but instead displays cats and dogs that are available for adoption from a Humane Society, SPCA or rescue organization. Interested adopters must be approved under the same screening process that the shelter organization has in place for all the animals it adopts out.

Benefits of adopting from a reputable shelter or rescue organization

  • Adoption fees usually include spaying/neutering, micro-chipping, vaccinations and a full checkup by a vet. If you were to purchase each of these services yourself at a private vet clinic, you would likely spend up to $1,000 or more.
  • Extensive health and temperament testing is conducted to ensure the animals are physically and behaviourally ready for a new home.
  • These shelters have purebred animals and mixed breeds, as well as young, adolescent and older animals.
  • You are helping to reduce the pet overpopulation problem in your community by giving a home to an animal in need.