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How Long Do Animal Shelters Keep Animals Before Putting Them to Sleep?

| Updated September 26, 2017

Each day hundreds of dogs and cats are left behind in shelters by owners who are certain the pets will be adopted. Few people realize how many pets are euthanized daily and even fewer realize how little time animals spend in shelters before they are put down.

Time in Shelter

Mother and daughter looking at dog in animal shelter kennel
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The time that animals spend in shelters before being euthanized depends on the type of shelter the animal is in, the area where the shelter is located and the condition or behavior of the animal.

5-Day Stay

Blank Daily Organizer
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While it is only a recommendation, the Humane Society of the United States suggests that all pets be held in a shelter for at least five days.

Changing Rules

Shelter Kitten
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When caught in financial difficulties, many shelters are forced to decrease the time animals have before they are put down. Some money-tight shelters implement 3-day rules, euthanizing the animal on the fourth day of its shelter stay.

No-Kill Shelters

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No-kill shelters keep animals indefinitely unless they are too ill to be treated or have an overly aggressive nature.

Save a Life

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Time is limited for any animal in a shelter, unless the shelter is a no-kill one. If left unadopted, any animal will be put down eventually.