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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is the Humane Society of Chittenden County affiliated with other shelters in the state or with the Humane Society of the United States? Is HSCC a government agency?

A: No - though we share great relationships with a variety of other animal welfare organizations in Vermont and beyond. HSCC 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 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 Chittenden County and beyond. From time to time we work in partnership with neighboring shelters and animal welfare organizations in both informal and somewhat formal ways. HSCC is a member of the Vermont Humane Federation, the New England Federation of Humane Societies, and the American Humane Association.

Q: Is HSCC a "no-kill"shelter?

A: As stated in the "History & Philosophy" section of our About Us page, the answer to this question is yes. . .and no. While HSCC meets the generally understood guidelines for a “no-kill” shelter (we do not euthanize animals for space or length of stay), 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 an organization committed to transparency and community education, it would be disingenuous of us (and a disservice truly) to be anything but upfront and forthright about this aspect of our work. Put most simply, HSCC never euthanizes an animal or animals because they've been at the shelter too long or because we need to make room for incoming animals - a distinction exponentially more significant than the label (in our case "controlled admission") that we use to identify our operating philosophy.

Q: Why does HSCC require appointments for surrendering animals?

A: We have committed to never euthanizing animals for length of stay or space considerations. Therefore, we must ensure that we have space for every animal! We accept new animals as we have room for them. Depending on the current pet population in our shelter, we may have to put you on a waiting list for relinquishing your animal. This can be anywhere from days to weeks, and we do recognize that that can be a great inconvenience in a time of crisis. Please know that we do our very best to work with our clients and meet their needs while also maintaining a high standard of care for our animal 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 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.

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 animals at HSCC 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 HSCC 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 a year. 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 great companions. When an animal does come to us because of a medical or behavioral condition we do our best to rehabilitate and treat prior to placement.

Q: Do you ever have purebred animals?

A: Yes. In fact, each year 25-35% of the animals that are brought to HSCC are purebred. In the recent past we’ve had some unique cat breeds (like a purebred Somali, Persians, Himalayans, Bramins) 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: Wouldn’t you place more animals if you charged lower adoption fees?

A: Possibly, and in fact, other leading shelters around the country are currently experimenting with this. Please note that our adoption fees make up a fraction (10%-20%) of the cost that we incur to care for, feed, vaccinate, and spay/neuter the animals in our care (click here to see how it all breaks down!). As a business model, animal sheltering is a losing enterprise: each animal costs us several times as much as the fee an adopter pays to bring them home. We do often run discount promotions when we have an especially high population. For more details about our adoption fees, click here.

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 HSCC's position on juvenile spay/neuter?

A: It is the policy of HSCC 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), HSCC 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) click here. 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 - click here to visit their site.

Q: Why don’t you offer low cost medical care to the community?

A: We would love to be able to offer this, but unfortunately we do not employ a veterinarian on staff--and our facility does not boast a surgical suite! Furthermore, our staffing and financial resources do not allow us to offer even basic services at this point. We do, however, hold an annual rabies clinic in the spring. Chittenden County, and the state of Vermont, has 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. For lower cost basic veterinary services, the Old North End Veterinary Clinic is an outstanding local resource. 

Q: I’ve heard that bringing an animal to a shelter means it will likely be euthanized. Is that true?

A: No, in fact, the overwhelming majority of the animals that come into our care are placed in loving new homes. It is important to realize, however, that there are times when an animal is brought to HSCC 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. For more information about how we operate, please visit our page about HSCC’s operating philosophy. For information specific to surrendering a pet, click here.

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. At some point later, under different circumstances, that same person may be ready and interested in adopting a new pet. For more comprehensive information about surrendering an animal, visit Bringing Us a Pet . For details regarding our adoption process, click here

Q. Why don’t you accept pets like reptiles, pot-bellied pigs and others?

A: HSCC’s facility is equipped to care only for cats, dogs, and small animals. The space, resources, and knowledge needed to care for other animals are beyond our capacity. We’re happy to serve as a referral source to assist people in need of re-homing animals that are outside of the populations we care for.

Q: Is there a fee for surrendering an animal?

A: HSCC 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.

Adoption Center Hours

  • Tuesday - Friday: 1:00 to 6:00 p.m.
  • Saturday: 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • Sunday & Monday: Closed

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