first of all, DONT BUY DOGS OR CATS FROM STORES!! they are inbred and sick and come from puppy mills! You will pay a ton in vet bills because of inbreeding! and you will be funding puppy mills(which are unfortunately legal(and regulated by the USDA but still not ok in my book!))
I just got a new job at the animal shelter in town a few months ago, and there are a lot of things i didnt expect that i feel people have the right to know about.
for one, the dogs usually dont get to go outside even to go to the bathroom(this may be different at other shelters, dont assume all are like this.) The only time they get to go outside is if someone is interested in adopting them, or a volunteer takes the time to let them out so volunteer if you feel so inclined! :) the cages are made so that the animals have room to move around their poo, and they are cleaned daily.
The strays we get are kept for 3 days, during which time they are by law, not our property. that means we cannot do any more than feed them water them and clean their cages. If they have a broken leg, it stays broken. if they have fleas, or so many ticks they become paralyzed(i have seen this first hand) they stay infested for three days.
All animals that come in are immediately vaccinated and wormed.
speaking of worms, they arent pretty. i just watched a dog **** pure blood in large amounts for two days because of round worms. if you think your dog or cat might have worms go see a vet. remember, rice is tapeworms, spaghetti is roundworms :)
there is something we call a "feral" cat, which is a wild cat basically. they are not used to human contact. its like trying to pet a wild opossum or raccoon. it doesn't always end well. but not all cats in feral boxes are feral. some are just nervous, but are euthanized like a feral cat anyways which makes me sad. those are my favorite cats. but if no one who works at the shelter cares to bring the cat's friendliness to the attention of someone who can possibly get it to adoption, it is euthanized.
the "no kill" thing. no such thing, at least not where i'm from. there are way too many cats/dogs/etc out there for us to save them all. some of them, believe me, do not deserve it and would only hurt someone. Ive seen plenty of animals that actually seem to take pleasure in attempting to bite/hurt a worker. we cannot let an aggressive animal be adopted im pretty sure if it were to bite someone we could be sued. we do not, to my knowledge, euthanize after a certain amount of time. as a matter of fact, if an animal has been in the shelter for a certain number of days, we lower the adoption price of that animal. however if the adoption floor is already full, cats/dogs waiting in stray are euthanized(to my understanding) because there is no room for them to move up. we do have rescues take dogs from us every once in a while. one dog who had kidney stones was taken by a rescue, for instance. it seems to be dogs with such diseases/illnesses/injuries that are taken by rescues.
the animals are fed whatever we are donated. if its not enough, we do go out and buy it for ourselves. but the dogs and cats are usually fed a mixture of several types/brands of food which can make them sick from their diet changing so often. but this doesn't happen too too much.
it is a misconception that shelters dont have pure bred or good dogs. i have met PLENTY of dogs and cats i would LOVE to take home with me! so if you are thinking about getting one, go see what the shelter has first. i cannot believe all the beautiful colors and coat patterns i have seen! if you want something unique and beautiful, you want a shelter dog. Dont look at a scruffy, matted dog and think it is worthless. You would not believe what a bath and a haircut will do for a dog!! trust me!
pit bulls: we do NOT kill dogs just because of their breed! there are several pits in the shelter right now that i can think of off the top of my head!!
when bringing in an animal, i would advise against:
Pregnant cats. keep them until they have their kittens and the kittens are a few weeks old(preferably a month or two). when pregnant cats come into the shelter, at least where i work, they have a 50% chance of being euthanized whether or not they are mean/aggressive. Either they are killed after the kittens are a few weeks old, or the kittens are aborted. i dont know if the same happens to dogs.
any animal that is even slightly aggressive(if you care about the animal). if they bite or growl at anyone they won't have as much of a chance to make it to adoption. if they bite someone and it is reported, they are kept on a 10 day wait to see if it is rabies, and then euthanized. If it is a pet you have to get rid of, put it on craigslist before you take an aggressive/nervous animal to the pound.
Dont bring wild animals you caught in your garden in thinking it will be released. we euthanize all but opossums(apparently they cant pass rabies to their offspring or something like that). i just watched a BABY fox get euthanized the other week.
if you can do it, i would keep the stray until you find the owner or a new owner. better for them to be with you than locked in a cage all day in their own excrement and no chance to even see outside until someone comes to adopt them, if they make it to adoption.