When most people hear the word “shelter,” they presume that the name means what the word implies: a safe place for animals to be housed until they are reunited with their families or until they are placed in homes. The sad truth is that many shelters and humane societies across America function more like holding centers in which more than 50% (and often as many as 90%) of the animals who enter the building do not leave it alive. People disagree on the reason so many animals are destroyed in our shelters. Some in the sheltering system put the blame on “pet overpopulation” and "the irresponsible public," saying they do the public's dirty work behind closed doors. Others lament the killing, but say they simply lack the funding and resources to save more animals. Many of them feel they are forced to make very difficult choices every day, doing a job most people simply would not do for any amount of compensation. Some animal welfare advocates argue that there are plenty of homes for the millions of animals who end up in shelters and humane societies each year and that the continued destruction of animals is simply the result of an antiquated system which has not kept pace with the values of the public it serves.
There are essentially three types of animal shelters in the United States: 1) kill facilities; 2) no kill limited admission facilities; and 3) no kill open admission facilities. Kill facilities are exactly what the name implies. The individuals operating the facilities, either with tax dollars or using private donations, destroy animals, many of which are healthy and treatable and are not suffering or aggressive. Limited admission no kill facilities are typically places where animals are not destroyed unless they are suffering or unless they are so aggressive that they cannot be rehabilitated (even by experts) and pose a risk to the general public. Open admission no kill facilities operate using the same principles as limited admission facilities, but they do not turn away animals due to space or health condition. These facilities “openly admit” any companion animal in need of help within a particular service area. Some of these are "managed admission" facilities which means that people must make an appointment to speak with an intake counselor prior to surrendering an animal.
Our Animal Shelters
Huntsville currently has five animal shelters:
Huntsville Animal Services is the municipal, open admission animal shelter operated by the City of Huntsville. It is funded by the City and the City holds the county contract (meaning that it serves all of Madison County with financial support from the county.)
The Ark is a privately operated, 501c(3) limited admission No Kill shelter. It is funded by donations.