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The difference between rescues and shelters

Updated: Jun 26

I have gotten a couple questions about the difference between humane societies, rescues, kill shelters, and no-kill shelters over the past couple weeks. So let's clear some things up!


Shelter VS Rescue

  • Shelters often receive funding from the government, whereas rescues generally rely fully on donations

  • Shelters have a central physical location you can visit, but rescues are most often completely foster based

  • Shelters have staff, but rescues are completely volunteer based

  • Shelters can be "kill" or "no-kill", but most rescues are "no-kill"

"Kill" VS "No-Kill"

  • No-kill shelters have the promise that an animal will only be euthanized if it has a medical condition that the veterinarian feels will inhibit its quality of life to a degree that makes euthanasia the most humane option.

  • Kill shelters are still doing important work for the community, but do not have the same guarantee. Animals may be euthanized due to lack of resources and "adoptability".

  • It is important to note though, that kill shelters are the ONLY ones who take any and all animals. Rescues and no-kill shelters have waiting lists or can turn away animals. Because "kill" shelters take in any and all animals brought to them, they have to decide what animals they have the resources to save. Generally, animals with behavioural issues, animals with medical issues, and neonatal orphans are the first to be euthanized because they require resources that the shelter may not have. For this reason, many rescues specialize in these animals to help take the burden off of our shelters.


Queen St. Cats is a strictly "No-Kill" rescue. We do not euthanize disabled animals or animals with medical or behavioural issues. We believe in rehabilitation and fighting to get animals the specialized care they need. Because of this, we rely so much on community support. But that is not to say that we don't respect the valuable role of shelters in our communities. Rescues alone would not be able to handle the sheer volume of animals in need. Rescues and shelters are both needed in a community to really care for all animals.

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