An animal shelter is a facility that houses homeless, lost, or abandoned animals; primarily a large variety of dogs and cats.
Parrots, for example, are the third most common pet owned by people. Most parrot shelters are privately run, due to the need for specialized care.
The goal of today's animal shelter is to provide a safe and caring environment until the animal is either reclaimed by its owner, placed in a new home, or placed with another organization. Many progressive shelters temperament test animals before they are put up for adoption to determine the appropriate home environment.
In the past, a shelter was more commonly referred to as a "dog pound", a term which had its origins in the impoundments of agricultural communities, where stray cattle would be penned up or impounded until claimed by their owners.
Some public animal shelters around the world euthanize animals that are not adopted within a set period of time (usually 7 to 14 days); others have a policy of only putting down animals that are in distress due to age or illness. Most private shelters are typically run as no-kill shelters.
There are parrot rescues, and parrot sanctuaries in Canada. Sanctuaries do not usually adopt parrots out, whereas parrot rescues,aim to find new homes for the parrots. World Parrot Refuge in British Columbia is one example of a parrot sanctuary. Parrot Adopt Southern Ontario is a well known parrot shelter specializing in rehabilitating and rehoming parrots. Parrot Adopt Southern Ontario has been profiled on several television networks and news shows including Animal Planet, Pet Network, CBC Marketplace, CHEX News.
In the United Kingdom, animal shelters are more commonly known as rescue or rehoming centers, and are run by charitable organizations. The most common rescue and rehoming organizations are the RSPCA, Cats Protection, and the Dogs Trust.
Most German larger cities have either a city shelter for animals or contracts with the very common animal non-profit organizations throughout the country, which run own shelters. Most shelters are populated by dogs, cats and a variety of small animals like mice, rats and rabbits. Additional there are so called Gnadenhöfe for larger animals. They take cattle or horses from private owners who want to put them down for financial reasons. Under German law the euthanization of animals is restricted to medical reasons or when the animal is dangerous, not controllable and actually endangers a human being (Gefahr im Verzug - exigent circumstance). Most dangerous animals like dogs (possession of some special breeds is restricted) are locked away until rehoused to an controlled environment.