Humane Societies are just that: humane shelters for strays, lost pets, and neglected or abused animals, which can include everything from dogs, cats, birds and rabbits, to horses and donkeys.
The national organization of the HSUS (humane society of the U.S.) is strictly political and does not house animals like local chapters do. The HSUS pushes for new laws and shares funds with other similar organizations. They create regulations for farm practices, encourage people to eat less meat and avoid using animal fur, and ask pet owners to spay/neuter their animals to prevent overpopulation.
“Animal Control” actually refers to the officers who enforce laws to protect live wild and domestic animals. They may work directly with health departments, police or sheriff’s departments, or with parks and recreation departments. Some work directly with humane societies.
“Animal Control Officers (ACO’s)” have special training; many are armed; they can seize animals that appear to be abused or neglected; and they can arrest people suspected of animal cruelty or abuse. Animal control officers have come a long way from the bygone image of the “dog catcher.” Some have specialized training as animal cruelty investigators; they can investigate cases like dog fighting and cock fighting, and they have the same responsibilities and roles as many law enforcement officers.
Animal Control departments also deal with wild animals. They keep statistics on the number of human contacts with wild and domestic animals. They record such things as bites and the number of rabies cases reported locally or statewide. They can enforce keeping a dog under observation for 10 days after a bite to determine if a dog is rabid. They can return animals to owners, turn them over to humane societies or animal rescues, or take abused or neglected animals for veterinary diagnosis and treatment. They also pick up dead or injured wild animals and strays for treatment or disposal.
Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals began with the first SPCA in New York in 1866 started by Henry Bergh. The national groups are concerned with educating the public and lobbying policy makers while local groups actually house the animals and care for them. The principle idea is to get adoptable animals into new homes and resort to “humane” euthanasia for those that aren’t adopted.
“No-kill shelters” make extraordinary efforts to get the animals in their care adopted, and only resort to euthanasia when the animals are extremely ill, severely injured, or have serious behavior problems like biting out of aggression or fear.
If you must relinquish a pet – like a dog, cat, hamster, snake, or horse — because of moving, allergies or you simply can’t afford the pet’s care anymore, you can contact your local Humane Society. They may ask for a donation, as most are non-profit organizations that run on shoestring budgets and volunteer care.
If you can adopt such a pet, go to your nearest Humane Society or animal rescue league that will welcome you with open arms.
If you see a fox or raccoon in your yard in the daytime, which may mean the animal is rabid, call your local Animal Control Officer. If you are aware of illegal dog fighting, know about a local puppy-mill, or become aware of a neglected or abused animal, call Animal Control.
“Animal control officer,” Wikipedia. Http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_control_officer. Retrieved 8-11-10.
“Humane Society, United States,” Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humane_society. Retrieved 8-11-10.