How Long Does a Shelter Keep a Dog? (REASONS)

If you’ve recently lost a dog, you may wonder, “how long does a shelter keep a dog?”

How long a shelter will hold a dog depends on factors such as their age, personality, health, and even how crowded and overburdened the shelter is.

We’ll discuss how long a shelter keeps a dog before putting it up for adoption and how you can help ease some of the stress that shelters face.

How Long Does a Shelter Keep a Dog?

Most dogs will stay in the shelter for a few months before being put up for adoption.
Most shelter dogs will be put up for adoption after a few weeks to a few months, depending on their health and behavior.

If you are considering adopting a dog, one of the first questions you might have is how long shelters typically keep dogs before putting them down.

The answer to this question varies depending on the shelter, but there are some general trends that can give you a good idea of what to expect.

In general, dogs are usually kept in shelters for around 2 weeks before being put up for adoption, and some stay for up to 6 months, and rarely some stay longer.

However, this timeframe can vary depending on the individual dog’s age, health, and behavior.

For example, puppies and senior dogs tend to be adopted more quickly than adult dogs, as they are considered more desirable by potential adopters.

Dogs with health issues or behavioral problems tend to be, unfortunately, more difficult to place and may stay in the shelter for a longer period of time.

Ultimately, each dog is unique, and the length of time they stay in a shelter will depend on their individual circumstances, but the average stay is about 2 months.

Read More: Can Shelter Dogs Be Service Dogs? Shelter dogs can make excellent companion or service dogs with the proper training and care. Learn more!

How Many Dogs Are in Shelters?

Across the United States, there are nearly 4 million dogs in shelters.
There are millions of dogs in shelters that are waiting for their forever homes.

According to the Humane Society, there are an estimated 3.3 million dogs in shelters throughout the United States.

This number includes both public and private shelters, but it does not include the countless stray dogs that are living on the streets.

The majority of these dogs are mixed breeds, but there are also a significant number of purebreds.

Do dogs get killed in shelters? Unfortunately, shelters are often overcrowded, and many dogs are euthanized each year due to a lack of space.

There are a number of things that people can do to help reduce the number of dogs in shelters.

  • Spaying and neutering pets can help to prevent unwanted litter.
  • Adopting a dog from a shelter instead of buying one from a breeder can help to make room for more animals.

By working together, we can make a difference for the millions of dogs in shelters across the country.

Read More: Do Animal Shelters Put Dogs to Sleep? Kill shelters will put dogs to sleep under certain circumstances. Here’s why and how.

How to Adopt a Dog From a Shelter

Adopting a dog from a shelter is a great way to get a new furry friend while also giving a home to a dog in need.

But there are a few things to keep in mind before heading to your local shelter to adopt.

The first step is to research what kind of dog would be the best fit for your lifestyle and personality.

Once you have an idea of what you are looking for, visit your local shelter and meet some of the adoptable dogs.

Some dog shelters do house calls and can bring adoptable dogs to your home to see how everyone interacts.

If you feel like you have found a match, fill out an adoption application and, if approved, take your new furkid home!

Be prepared to provide plenty of love, patience, and training as your dog adjusts to his or her new life with you.

With a little time and effort, you will have a loyal furry companion for years to come!

Read More: Can You Find Puppies at Shelters? If you’re thinking of adopting a puppy, good news! Some shelters see litters. Learn all about puppy adoption!

How to Volunteer at a Shelter

 Volunteering is a great way to improve the lives of shelter dogs.
Volunteering at your local animal shelter is a great way to improve the lives of surrendered dogs and provide a helping hand to your community.

Are shelters good for dogs, and can volunteering really make a difference?

Volunteering at a shelter is a great way to give back to your community and help homeless animals in need.

Volunteering helps the dogs that are at the shelter long-term AND prepares them for being adopted.

But before you volunteer, it’s important to do your research and find a shelter that’s a good fit for you.

There are also a few things to keep in mind.

  • First, make sure the shelter you are interested in volunteering for allows volunteers.

Some shelters only allow volunteers who have previous experience working with animals, while others may have age restrictions.

Once you have found a shelter that is open to volunteers, give them a call or visit their website to learn more about their volunteer program.

  • Next, consider what type of volunteering you’re interested in doing.

Some shelters need help with basic tasks like cleaning and feeding, while others may have specific programs like dog walking or socializing.

Choose a role that you are comfortable with and that you will enjoy doing because if you are not happy, the pets at the shelter will know.

Read our related article, Can I Volunteer to Walk Dogs? Dog walking is a great way to break the cycle of boredom for shelter dogs!

  • Finally, be prepared to commit to a regular schedule.

Most shelters rely heavily on volunteers, so they need people who are able to commit to volunteering on a regular basis.

Before you sign up, make sure you can commit to at least a few hours per week (or whatever the shelter’s minimum requirement is).

Volunteering at a shelter is a great way to make a difference in the lives of homeless animals.

By doing your research and choosing the right shelter for you, you can ensure that your experience is positive and rewarding for both you and the animals you will be helping.

Check out this video showing a day in the life of a volunteer!

Read More: Why Are So Many Chihuahuas in Shelters Today? We explore the reasons behind the number of Chihuahuas surrendered to shelters in this guide.

How to Donate to a Shelter

There are many ways that you can donate to a shelter.

  • One way is to simply write a check or money order and send it in.
  • You can also donate items such as food, toys, or bedding.
  • If you have unwanted, gently used pet items around your house, you can donate them to the shelter as well.
  • Finally, you can volunteer your time to help out at the shelter. This might involve cleaning cages, walking dogs, or playing with the animals.

No matter how you choose to donate, your contributions will be greatly appreciated by the staff and animals at the shelter while they await their forever homes.

Read More: Where Can I Surrender My Dog for Free? If you’re struggling with your dog, please don’t abandon it. Here are safe places to take your dog.


So, how long does a shelter keep a dog?

Depending on the shelter, anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months. However, the average is about 2 months.

The reason for this is that shelters tend to be overcrowded and dogs that have been there the longest are usually the first to be adopted.

This means that if a dog isn’t adopted within the first few weeks, its chances of being adopted decrease significantly.

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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.

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