Q: Is Central Vermont Humane Society affiliated with other shelters in the state or with the Humane Society of the United States? Is CVHS a government agency?
A: No – though we share great relationships with a variety of other animal welfare organizations in Vermont and beyond, and often work to place animals from other organizations into homes, CVHS is an independent not-for-profit organization. We are not affiliated with, nor do we receive any funding from, other shelters, animal welfare organizations, or the federal or state government. Our organization is operated by a dedicated staff, overseen by a volunteer board of directors, and funded completely by the generous donations of individuals, businesses, and foundations in Central Vermont and beyond. From time to time we work in partnership with neighboring shelters and animal welfare organizations in both informal and somewhat formal ways. CVHS is a member of the Vermont Humane Federation, the New England Federation of Humane Societies, and the American Humane Association.
Q: Is CVHS a “no-kill”shelter?
A: The answer to this question is yes . . . and no. While CVHS meets the generally understood guidelines for a “no-kill” shelter (we have not needed to euthanize animals for space or length of stay in years), we choose very deliberately not to label ourselves with a brand such as “no-kill.” The truth is, even shelters that choose to use such a label have to make the decision to euthanize animals whose health or behavior makes them either inappropriate to place or subject to a very low quality of life. While we admire and appreciate the spirit and philosophy behind the “no-kill” movement, we also think it can be a misleading label.
Without exception, euthanasia decisions are the most difficult – not to mention often painful and even heart-breaking – decisions we face in the course of our work. We invest every resource within our reach and within reason to rehabilitate, cure, and help the animals who come our way. Sometimes their health conditions are beyond our resources (or worse, cause an animal to suffer) or their behavioral issues make them unsafe or unadoptable. Likewise, we are committed to providing each and every animal with a reasonable – if not exceptional – quality of life. If, for any number of reasons, an animal’s quality of life is both poor and beyond our capacity to improve, we’re often faced with very difficult decisions about their future.
As we operate as an “open-admission” shelter (we accept animals regardless of health or behavior issues), we sometimes see animals whose only option is euthanasia. By accepting these animals we help to ensure that no animal should suffer a painful death due to lack of resources.
Q: I’ve heard that bringing an animal to a shelter means it will likely be euthanized. Is that true?
A: No, in fact most of the animals that come into our care are either placed in a loving new forever home or, on occasion, even placed back with their original owners. It is important to realize, however, that there are times when an animal is brought to CVHS and its medical or behavioral problems are beyond our capacity or resources to treat or rehabilitate. In those cases, and in cases when an animal’s quality of life is substandard, we believe that the compassionate and responsible course of action is humane euthanasia. We take our responsibility to each animal very seriously and no euthanasia decision is reached without thoughtful deliberate conversation prior to having invested the appropriate resources to treat or rehabilitate.
Q: Why does CVHS require appointments for surrendering and adopting animals?
A: Due to the fact that we are open limited hours each week, and sometimes care for over 100 animals each day, the only way to avoid utter chaos and frustration for both staff and visitors is to keep an appointment schedule. Likewise, we have limited space and resources and – because we are housing healthy and behaviorally sound animals for as long as it takes to find a home – effective resource management is key to our success. Occasionally, depending on the current pet population in our shelter, we may have to schedule you out a week or two to relinquish your animal. We do our very best to accommodate the needs of our community while also maintaining a high standard of care for our facility’s population.
Q: I only see a few dogs available for adoption. Are they the only dogs you have?
A: People often comment on the fact that we sometimes have as few as three or four dogs listed for adoption on our site; giving the impression that we’ve got lots of extra room and very few dogs in our building. Most often, however, that’s anything but the case! Because we are an organization committed to a high standard of care for our canine and feline residents – and because we care equally about our potential adopters – we take our responsibility to learn as much as possible about our residents before making them available for adoption (including identifying special needs, learning about an animal’s temperament, treating existing health issues, etc.) very seriously. We also hold stray dogs at least five days to assist their owners in locating them.
The truth is, our average dog population is about fifteen; it may well be that your next best friend is right here in our building, on their way to becoming available and choosing you as their new person! If you only see a few dogs listed on our adoption page, please visit often as we do our best to make dogs available as soon as we can and to keep our site as up to date as possible.
Q: Do you ever have purebred animals?
A: Yes, all the time. In the recent past we’ve had some really unique cat breeds and a whole host of purebred dogs (Boston Terriers, Boxers, Poodles, Labs, St. Bernards, Great Danes, Golden Retrievers, Maltese, Lhasa Apsos, Catahoulas, Jack Russells, Brittanys, English Springers, and more!) Don’t be misled though – a mixed breed or “mutt” can offer as much love, fun, and enjoyment as any purebred and often has fewer health problems as they age.
Q: I want a certain breed or personality type in a new pet. Can you contact me when one comes in who may match my wishes?
A: Many of our animals are adopted without ever making an appearance on our website. We maintain a file of completed Adopter Information Forms and contact adopters whenever a match comes to the shelter. Fill out a form today and we can let you know when you new family member arrives!
Q: Do animals at CVHS have a time limit or maximum number of days that they can stay at the shelter?
A: No, as mentioned previously, we keep and care for every animal at CVHS for as long as it takes to find them a forever home. While considerations such as health, behavior, and quality of life may play a factor in how we make housing decisions, length of stay is not a factor. If an animal is experiencing an extended stay here we may try to find another shelter or location from which to place them, explore foster care opportunities, or make a particular push or pitch to find them a home. Animals have been here for as little as a day and for as long as six months. Since this is a place to visit – and not one to live – we try and hope to find good matches and forever homes as quickly as possible.
Q: I’ve heard that only “problem” animals who are either sick or aggressive come to shelters. Is that true?
A: No. While many of the animals who come to us have experienced some difficulties (abandonment, neglect, etc.) the majority are sweet, gentle, deserving of a great home, and will make a great companions.
Q: Tell me more about your adoption fees. Wouldn’t it be cheaper for me to find a free pet online?
A: Our adoption fees make up a fraction of the cost that we incur to care for, feed, house, vaccinate, provide medical and behavioral support for, and spay/neuter the animals in our care. As a business model, animal sheltering is a losing enterprise – meaning each animal costs us several times as much as the fee an adopter pays to bring them home. This would also be true for you if you were to find a “free” pet elsewhere. Animals adopted from CVHS are already spayed or neutered, vaccinated to the extent their age allows, cleared of basic parasites, microchipped, and more. Many puppies and dogs also receive training classes with their new families as part of their adoption. We think adoption from CVHS is a real deal!
Q: Why are some dogs required to take training classes as part of adoption?
A: Training is an important part of a healthy relationship with your new pet. All puppies, most young dogs, and some older dogs go home with a training course as part of their adoption. This helps ensure you get the support and skills you need to be successful with your pet, all while continuing to build the human-animal bond.
Q: I’ve heard it’s unsafe, and may lead to health problems, to spay or neuter an animal before it is six months old. What’s CVHS’s position on juvenile spay/neuter?
A: It is the policy of CVHS to spay/neuter every intact animal before placing that animal in a home. The American Veterinary Medical Association supports the concept of spay/neuter at 8-16 weeks of age and advises veterinarians to use best judgment in determining their own practice. In weighing the cost/benefit of housing an animal for up to six months in order to delay spay/neuter surgery (or placing intact animals in the community), CVHS and our veterinary partners agree that early spay/neuter is a critical component in successful placement of young animals and in controlling the over-population problems faced by our communities.
Q: Is there access to low-cost spay/neuter surgeries in my area?
A: Yes. Aside from the many veterinarians that offer outstanding surgical services, there are several ways to obtain low-cost spay/neuter surgeries for your pet(s). For information about VSNIP (the Vermont Spay Neuter Incentive Program) visit their website. For information about low-cost spay/neutuer surgeries for felines only visit the site of Green Mountain Animal Defenders another private independent animal welfare organization in our community with ties to a low-cost spay/neuter clinic. In 2009, VT-CAN! (Vermont Companion Animal Neutering) opened an affordable spay/neuter clinic for both dogs and cats in Middlesex, VT.
Q: Why don’t you offer low cost medical care to the community?
A: First and foremost, CVHS has limited financial and human resources to care for and treat the animals brought to our facility on a daily basis. Just as significant, it’s important to remember that we are a not-for-profit animal care facility and not a veterinary clinic or hospital. We have an outstanding community of committed and talented veterinarians who are skilled at both consulting with owners and determining the best course of treatment. For lower cost spay/neuter services, see the previous question and answer.
Q: I’ve heard that if someone surrenders a pet they will never be allowed to adopt from your shelter. Is that true?
A: No. First and foremost, making a good match is our top priority – and if that means that someone who previously surrendered an animal winds up being a great match for another pet somewhere in the future, then we’re thrilled to make that match. We understand that people’s lives change and that sometimes, due to a variety of circumstances, people are unable to keep, maintain, and care for their pets. Years later, under different circumstances, that same person may be ready and interested in adopting a new pet.
Q: Why don’t you accept pets like birds, reptiles, pot-bellied pigs and others?
A: CVHS’s facility is equipped to care only for cats, dogs, and small companion animals. The space, resources, and knowledge needed to care for other animals are beyond our capacity.
Q: Is there a fee for surrendering an animal?
A: CVHS has a deep commitment to helping animals. Therefore we do not impose a mandatory “fee” for surrender. However, because of the expenses we incur to feed, house, vet, and re-home an animal, we ask that you give as generous a donation as you are able at the time of surrender (with a suggested minimum of $50.00). It will help your animal and others like it to be safe and healthy while waiting for their new homes to be found.