A humane society is a group that aims to stop animal and human suffering due to cruelty or other reasons.


Examples of humane societies include: The Humane Society of the United States, Peninsula Humane Society, American Humane which was founded in 1877 as a network of local organizations to prevent cruelty to children and animals, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

Many local humane societies were founded earlier, and are independent of these similarly named organizations. Therefore local humane groups called SPCA or Humane Society are not related to the national groups such as the Humane Society of the United States or the ASPCA.


National organizations primarily work on big picture approach including research, public education and assisting local shelters and rescue groups. Local groups primarily handle the actual care (housing, adoption, and euthanasia) of animals, but their programs may also include education and outreach to the public.

There are municipal and private run shelters. Not all local groups euthanize. Municipal shelters "must" accept all animals given up by the public, but private shelters are not required to do so, unless they are contracted with their municipality.

No kill policyEdit

Some shelters refer to themselves as "no kill." However this does not necessarily mean that the problem of unwanted animals has been resolved in their community. Unless the "whole" community can claim that enough new good homes can be found for all the animals that are taken to shelters, "no kill" is a business choice of that particular shelter, as other shelters will likely pick up the rest of the unwanted animals in that community. Many shelters that use the terminology "no kill" actually do perform euthanasia, but usually in very small numbers and only those that they determine are not appropriate for adoption.

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