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Where we stand on euthanasia


Our mission and practices

 The Scituate Animal Shelter exists to improve the quality of life for both companion animals and the people of our community by providing shelter, care and placement for homeless animals and additional support through community services and education. 

 We do not euthanize for population control, nor do we euthanize for length of stay.  

Pets who are difficult to place


Our goal is to place every animal that comes to us in a loving home. We are proud of our record of accepting a high percentage of animals with so-called ‘special needs’ (such as advanced age or behavioral or health issues) and the numbers of animals we have found homes for has doubled since 2013.  When accepting animals, our considerations are whether we believe we can find them a home (even if we must rehabilitate them physically or behaviorally prior to adoption), the well-being and safety of our human and animal shelter population and of the people and animals they will encounter in the future. 

Due to our generous donors and volunteers, we are fortunate to be able to make every effort to identify and resolve problems without regard to the cost or time involved. Using positive training methods, we work on-site with animals with behavioral conditions that prevent placing them immediately. Occasionally, we place them in foster homes with trained and experienced “foster parents” to socialize them and teach them how to live with people. This intervention improves both the quality of life for each animal and their chance of finding an adoptive home.

Creative solutions

 We maintain contacts within the animal welfare community that sometimes enable us to transfer animals to other shelters and rescue groups with more potential adopters. When an animal is not able to be placed for adoption due to complex medical or behavior issues, we may transfer the pet to an appropriate breed-specific rescue organization in order to more quickly facilitate an adoption. We use creative placement options, such as barn placement for cats unable to live indoors, and home hospice placement for terminally ill animals. 

Last resort


Unfortunately, we do sometimes see animals suffering from a wide range of injuries, illnesses and behavioral problems that limit their chance of adoption. While we do our best to treat them, there are times when humanely administered euthanasia is the most compassionate and responsible course for the animal’s well-being and for public safety.  By way of example, in 2017, we euthanized just 2 animals for advanced cancer, and in 2018 we euthanized 9 animals for issues ranging from advanced illness to extreme and dangerous aggression. When we must euthanize an animal, it is truly a last resort, and it is done with compassion, respect and care by highly-trained veterinarians.



We believe that through careful evaluation, we will make the decision that is in the best interest of each animal and the community. This means that, sadly, there will be some for whom euthanasia is the most compassionate solution. In the very rare instances when this becomes necessary, we choose to be thoughtful, responsible, humane, and caring.