What Does It Take To Run An Animal Shelter?


Every dog deserves a loving home. Most of us would like to adopt every dog that we meet until we snap back to reality and realize that it is impossible to do. But there are still many ways to help! Whether it’s promoting a rescue shelter, volunteering, adopting a dog or donating items, every little thing helps a dog in need of a forever home.

What all goes into running a dog shelter anyway?

One of the many dogs you can help at Sponsor.Dog

What Does it Take to Run a Shelter?

To better understand what it takes to run a shelter we reached out to shelters that are featured on Sponsor.Dog. Fur Kids located in Georgia,  4 Luv of Dog Rescue in North Dakota and Homeward Animal Shelter in North Dakota gave us an amazing insight to the work and dedication it takes to run a shelter. 

Here is what we learned!

On average how many dogs do you take in monthly?


How many dogs do you have to turn away?

One shelter said 5-10, another said 200 and the third said that rescuing pound dogs is a priority and they will have to turn away owner surrenders on occasion.

What’s generally the reason a dog must be turned away?

Lack of space at the shelter.

How much does it typically cost to care for one dog?  

Before each dog is listed as available for adoption they are fully vetted. They receive vaccinations (Distemper/Parvo, Rabies, Bordatella), a wellness exam, and spay/neuter as age appropriate. They also receive a 4DX test to check for heartworm and tick-borne diseases as well as heartworm preventative and flea/tick treatment. For a normal healthy dog without any other medical issues, this veterinary care costs around $200.

In addition, dogs at the shelter need to be fed, entertained and trained. That requires dog food, treats, toys, beds and more. 

What are the typical expenses of caring for a dog?

Medical care, food, housing costs, costs for trainers, hiring staff to care for them, cleaning supplies and toys.  Those costs can really add up. 

What resources do you use if your shelter becomes full?

Fostering is a great option if people are willing to open their homes. Generally, the rescue or shelter will provide the foster family with supplies for housing the dogs.

Paid boarding facilities are another option but at the cost of around $20/day, this can add up quickly. 

What are the expenses of actually having the shelter space?

Monthly lease, utilities, cleaning supplies, all run around $2,250/month.

What are the most expensive supplies that you need?  

Veterinary care, flea/tick treatment/heartworm prevention, food, and training care.

What are you most in need of?

4 Luv of Dog Rescue said, “Volunteers!  As for material supplies, durable chews and toys are always appreciated by our building dogs. 

The other shelters that we spoke with said monetary donations and donated vet or training care!

Does fostering cost the foster parent anything?

No! 4 Luv of Dog Rescue provides veterinary care, crates, food, toys, etc. for the fostering family. They also provide behavioral help if needed and have a weekly foster training class that fosters can attend. “Our fosters are an integral part of the applications process and are able to visit and get to know adopters as well.”

A lot of money, time, effort, passion and love goes into running a rescue shelter and saving dogs. Every donation helps. New leashes mean more dogs to walk. New treats can help with training. And every pup loves getting a new toy! Everything helps and everything is appreciated! We thank you for what you do for all the pups out there! We hope you found this post helpful and informational.

Want more information on how to give back to a dog in need? Check out these blogs.

3 Ways To Give Back

The Power Of Pawing It Forward

About Hannah Savoy

Hannah used to be the Marketing Manager at dogIDs before heading on to new opportunities. She spends most of her time focused on emails, digital ads and social media. Hannah is a dog lover and can talk for hours about her furry nephews and nieces. She hopes to have a furry friend of her own very soon!

  1. Volunteering is a great way to help an animal shelter. Whether it’s cleaning cages or socializing nervous dogs, anything you do will make a difference. Thank you for sharing this.

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  3. Thanks for pointing out that necessary veterinary care can go for up to around 200 dollars for each dog. Since there are a lot of strays in my hometown, my dream it to be able to open my own dog shelter someday. I should also start looking into experts on animal wellness in my area to see if we could partner up for future project.

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