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Book Chapter

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Almost two-thirds of U.S. households have a dog, cat, bird, or reptile as a pet. The number of dogs, and particularly puppies, relinquished to shelters was rapidly diminishing as of mid-2000, to the point that some shelters did not have any puppies for adoption for many months. Those dogs and cats fortunate enough to be in lifelong homes are enjoying a longer life span than those who shared our homes in the first half of the twentieth century.

Additional good news is the way that animal shelters—whether run municipally, privately, or through a combination of municipal and private funding—are different from their predecessors in most communities throughout the United States. Their physical structure and their programs have advanced to include a host of new animals and new challenges that most municipal planners and humane society board members would never have dreamed of fifty—or even twenty— years ago.