Difference Between Animal Sanctuaries and Animal Shelter

Animal shelters and wildlife sanctuaries are often confused. Although a lot of sanctuaries have characteristics of animal shelters, they are not the same. Shelters have a more temporary and a more intrusive purpose while sanctuaries are more permanent and less intrusive.

Animal shelters are designed to temporarily house lost, homeless, or abandoned animals. An example of a shelter is a “dog pound”. Shelters often allow people to adopt and remove animals. Some shelters euthanize animals if they are not adopted within a certain time period. Other shelters adopt a strict no-kill policy. Such policy gained momentum in the late 1990s. Shelters rarely have exotic and feral animals such as wildcats living there. Most shelters primarily house dogs and cats. In many locations, animal control agencies bring animals to the shelters.

On the other hand, wildlife sanctuaries provide a permanent residence to animals. More often, they house rare and endangered species rather than cats and dogs. For example, Catty Shack in Jacksonville, Florida houses threatened wildcats. Sanctuaries attempt to be as non-intrusive as possible. Even though many sanctuaries allow visitors, they exercise greater supervision of visitors than shelters and zoos. Although limited research and observation is allowed at sanctuaries, any testing on animals is usually strictly forbidden. Since the main purpose of sanctuaries is safe haven for animals, animals shelters rarely sell, trade, or euthanize their animals. Some wildlife sanctuaries allow adoption. However, adoption at sanctuaries is more related to a donation as animals rarely leave the grounds of the sanctuary.