Frequently Asked Questions

What is the relationship of the Idaho Humane Society to national groups such as the Humane Society of the United States or ASPCA?

The Idaho Humane Society receives no funding from these or other national groups, nor are we governed by or affiliated with any national animal welfare group. We are a local nonprofit charitable organization dedicated to taking care of animals in our community. The only way to help local homeless, abandoned or abused pets is by donating directly to the Idaho Humane Society or to other local animal welfare and rescue organizations.

What is an animal welfare organization?

Here is the essential distinction between animal welfare and animal rights organizations: Animal welfare refers to the mainstream view that it is morally acceptable for humans to use non-human animals for companionship, for food, in research, as clothing and in entertainment so long as unnecessary suffering is avoided. Simply put, it’s the view that the overwhelming majority of caring individuals share in regards to how animals should be treated. This is in contrast with the animal rights position, which holds that animals should not be used by, nor regarded as the property of, humans. You could also refer to groups such as the Idaho Humane Society as animal protection organizations, which believe that since animals, like young children, cannot assert themselves they should be afforded protections but not rights.

Is the Idaho Humane Society a government agency?

No. The Idaho Humane Society is a private, nonprofit organization supported by tax deductible donations and fees for services. In addition to our advocacy and the many services we provide on behalf of animals, we also contract with local government to enforce state and local laws regarding the care and keeping of animals and to shelter stray pets. Our humane officers are deputized to enforce animal welfare laws by the Ada County Sheriff’s Department. Additionally, we serve as an animal licensing authority for our contracting municipalities, which are the cities of Boise, Kuna, Eagle, Meridian and Garden City, and the unincorporated parts of Ada County.

Is the Idaho Humane Society a “no-kill” organization?

The Idaho Humane Society welcomes every animal in need. We are defined as an “open admission” shelter. We rescue, rehabilitate and re-home more animals each year than any other shelter or organization in Idaho. We turn no animals away providing we have the legal authority to accept them – in some cases stray animals from other jurisdictions may be referred to the municipal animal control shelter in that community. Once that municipality has legal ownership of the animal, the Idaho Humane Society can then take the animal and find it a new home.

There are other organizations that call themselves “no kill” shelters, but we believe the term is misleading. These organizations are more accurately defined as “limited admission” shelters because they restrict the number of animals they take in. They may turn away those that aren’t healthy or behaviorally sound – the animals most in need of assistance. Alternatively, many “no kill” shelters fill to capacity with less adoptable pets that are then interned in these facilities indefinitely. In the interim, all other animals are turned away, often to breed and add even more animals to the pet overpopulation crisis. While “no-kill” shelters can make positive contributions, the greatest burden falls on “open admission” shelters like the Idaho Humane Society to create a community in which adoptable pets are no longer euthanized.

As an open-admission shelter, we take in ill and injured animals and those that are not immediate candidates for adoption. We receive stray animals as well as pets that are no longer wanted or have owners who can’t care for them. Our staff and extensive community of volunteers work hard to give second chances not only to animals that arrive at the shelter healthy, but also to those that require medical care or other rehabilitation before they are ready for adoption.

There is no limit on how long an animal can remain in our care. As long as we have space and an animal maintains general good health and a sound temperament, it can stay in our shelter for weeks to months if necessary, and even longer in our foster care program. Sick animals that have a good prognosis for recovery are sent to our Veterinary Medical Center for treatment, and then into foster care for recovery. If a dog has a correctable behavior issue, it may be sent into foster care or our Inmate Dog Alliance Project of Idaho (IDAPI) program for intensive training. Sick cats and young kittens can spend time in our Women Inmate Social Kitty Retreat (WISKR) program or in a foster home until they are ready for adoption. We may also put a healthy but overlooked animal in temporary foster care and return it to the adoptions program at a later time.

In short, we do everything we can to avoid euthanasia of healthy animals. But we do have a responsibility to humanely euthanize aggressive animals that are determined to be a threat to the community, as well as animals with illnesses or injuries that would drastically affect their quality of life. And the reality is that our space and resources are limited when it comes to addressing the Treasure Valley’s overpopulation of unwanted cats – particularly feral cats.

To address these challenges, we are:

  • Increasing efforts to promote spaying and neutering
  • Increasing the number of shelter animals adopted to new homes
  • Encouraging responsible pet ownership through expanded public awareness and humane education
  • Supporting pet owners through dog training classes and behavior counseling
  • Involving ourselves proactively in humane issues through legislative processes

Euthanasia is just one of the many animal welfare issues we face in our community. The term “no-kill” community really doesn’t do justice to the societal change that we have been striving for in our region for decades. A much better title for our goal is a “humane community.”