Can Animal Shelters REFUSE Animals?

Can animal shelters refuse animals?

Yes, animal shelters can and do refuse animals. This is can be due to a lack of space and resources, the age and health of the animal, or the temperament making the animal unadoptable.

We’ll explore why shelters might refuse an animal in the sections below.

Shelters Refusing Animals and Why

Animal shelters can refuse to take animals in
If an animal is aggressive or they don’t have the resources to care for it, a shelter may turn it away.

Animal shelters can refuse animals for a variety of reasons:


Most animal shelters are open-admission, meaning they accept all animals, regardless of health or behavior.

However, some shelters are limited-admission or no-kill, and these shelters can be more selective about the animals they take in.

All shelters reserve the right to refuse any animal that poses a danger to staff or other animals in the facility.

Therefore, if a shelter feels that the animal would be a threat to others, the shelter can legally refuse to accept the animal.

Read More: Do Animal Shelters Take Open Bags of Dog Food? See what food dog shelters will accept.

Lack of Space or Resources

Unfortunately, not all animal shelters have the resources to care for every animal that comes through their doors.

As a result, some animal shelters may refuse certain animals based on space constraints or the inability to provide proper care.

An animal shelter may house an animal with special needs in a foster home rather than the shelter itself.

But, if they don’t have any foster homes available, or can’t find an appropriate foster home, they may refuse the animal altogether.

Watch this video to see how Covid-19 has impacted adoption rates and available shelter space around the world:

Read our related article, How Do Non Profit Animal Shelters Make Money? By following the money trail, you can see why some shelters may need to refuse animals.

How Animal Shelters Decide Which Animals to Take In

There are several factors that animal shelters take into consideration when making this decision:

  • They must have the space to house the animal. If the shelter is already at capacity, it will likely not be able to accept more animals.
  • They must have the resources to care for the animal. This includes food, water, shelter, and veterinary care.
  • They must have staff members who are able and willing to care for the animal.

In addition to those factors above, the animal must be compatible with the other animals at the shelter.

If the animal is aggressive or has a contagious disease, it may pose a risk to the other animals at the shelter.

Read More: Do Animal Shelters Give Vaccinations? Here’s what to know about free and low-cost vaccinations!

How to Help Unwanted Animals Find Homes

ADOPTION is the best way to help your local shelter!
Adoption is one of the best ways to help your local animal shelter and give a needy animal a loving home.

Despite the best efforts of animal shelters, there are always more animals in need of homes than people are willing to adopt them.

There are several things that people can do to help reduce this number:

  • Adopt an animal from a shelter instead of buying one from a breeder or pet store. You can learn how to adopt a dog from a shelter here, or by reading the article linked below.
  • Volunteer at a local shelter, helping with everything from cleaning cages to socializing animals.
  • Spread the word about adoption by telling friends and family about the benefits of giving an animal a second chance.
  • Donate money and supplies to help relieve the burden.

By working together, we can ensure that fewer animals are euthanized each year.

Read our related article, How Does Dog Adoption Work? Learn about the process before taking the leap.


While animal shelters have a responsibility to take in any animal that is surrendered, there are some instances where they can refuse an animal.

By understanding the legalities of refusing animals and the best practices for doing so, shelters can ensure that they provide the best possible care.

Other Interesting Reads

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Jesse Hopping, CCDT

Jesse is a natural-born dog-lover certified dog trainer (CCDT), dog foster, and former volunteer at Richmond SPCA and surrounding dog shelters for over 10 years. Her pack includes a Bernedoodle and 3 Boston Terriers. She’s sipping caramel coffee and watching her pack play in the sun when she’s not writing blogs. Jesse has her Certified Dog Trainer designation from CATCH Canine Trainers Academy since 2018 and and majored in English from the University of Virginia.

You can read more about me in our about us page

Connect with me:

Leave a Comment