Why Give Local?

If you wanted to put up a stop sign at the end of your street, you wouldn’t start by approaching the National Transportation Safety Board in Washington, D.C. You’d probably call your local Department of Transportation, right?

The same idea holds true for animal shelters and humane societies.

Most national pet charities, most notably the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), dedicate the vast majority of their resources to three things: lobbying, fundraising, and raising awareness. In fact, despite its name, the Humane Society of the United States gives 1 percent of its annual budget to local pet shelters like your town or county’s humane society.

Read more about how the Humane Society of the United States helps to create the false perception that it benefits local animal shelters.

Types of Shelters

Of local animal and pet organizations, there are three basic types:


  • Rescues are often limited to specific types or breeds of animals, or animals with special needs.
  • They are more likely to be no-kill.
  • Rescues usually have limited capacity.
  • Typically supported by individual endowments and private donations.

Charitable Organizations – like a local humane society

  • Most are independent charities, although some may contract with local government agencies to provide services like housing or spay/neuter programs.
  • Donations to these groups are likely to benefit hands-on care, sheltering, or fundraising and adoption events.
  • Typically supported by individual endowments and private donations.

Government Agencies – like city animal shelters or animal control departments

  • These groups regulate animal populations in a city or county, handle wildlife issues, monitor and control rabies outbreaks, respond to citizen requests, investigate animal abuse, provide shelter for certain animals, and offer some animals for adoption.
  • Funding for these agencies typically comes from taxes, licenses and fees, and private donations.
  • Private donations to government agencies are not always tax-deductible.

Although each of these organizations has its own set of challenges and limitations, all of them work together to deal directly with animals in need. These local groups largely depend on donations to cover the costs of housing, feeding, and providing medical care for homeless animals, as well as the staff required to provide care, manage the facility, and recruit volunteers.

Donations to national organizations do not cover these costs.