What Does It Mean To Be An Open Admission Animal Shelter?

The Mission of the APCSM is to operate an open admission animal care and adoption facility, with focus on prevention of cruelty to animals, education and outreach, low-cost spay/neuter programs and helping animals and people in the community.

Our mission statement clearly states that we are an open admission animal shelter but what exactly does that mean? How does being an open admission shelter make us different from a selective admission shelter? Why is it even important? Let’s take a look at what it means for us, and those in our community, that the APCSM is open admission.

Firstly, what is an open admission shelter anyway and how is it different from a selective admission shelter? A selective admission shelter may refuse to take an animal for any number of reasons.  None of these reasons are necessarily bad, it’s just that sometimes a selective admission shelter doesn’t have the resources or ability or even the mission to take in a wider variety of animals. For example, if the cost of care is prohibitively expensive or if the animal is terminal a selective admission shelter may refuse to take the animal.  If the breed or type of animal doesn’t fulfill it’s mission the shelter may also refuse to take the animal (i.e.: a Golden Retriever rescue may refuse to take in an English Bulldog.)  As an open admission shelter however, we will accept any animal that we can care for regardless of age, physical condition, or species. For example, here are just a few of the animals we’ve taken in at the shelter in just the past 12 months:

-A 20 year old cat

-A dog with tumors

-A pair of bonded chinchillas

-A hedgehog

-A family of 6 white rats

-A cat with lymphoma

-A talking umbrella cockatoo


-A pregnant bunny who produced 10 babies

If we have the ability to care for the animal at the shelter or in our foster system we keep the animal, add it to our available list, and care for it until it goes home.  In the case of the pregnant bunny, she stayed in foster care until her babies were 3 months old and then they came to the shelter to be adopted.  If the animal is sick and cannot be healed we often find a hospice foster for her, as was the case for the cat with lymphoma and the dog with tumors.  Our Life Is Precious Fund covers the cost of palliative care and these very special foster families commit to caring for the animal and keeping them comfortable for the rest of their lives.

Another feature of being and open admission shelter is that sometimes we take in an animal that we can’t take care of long term but that we can transfer to a specialized organization that has that ability.  A great example of this is cold blooded animals.  Again, in just the past 12 months we’ve seen:

-A 6 foot long albino boa constrictor

-Bearded dragons

-A Python

-A turtle

-A Chicken

These animals need certain things that we only have in limited supply, such as heat lamps, large aquariums and tanks, and often live food which we don’t have at all because let’s be honest, the things boa constrictors like to eat are the same things we’re adopting out. When people bring us these types of animals though we don’t refuse them.  Instead we accept the animal and then arrange a transfer to one of our partners who are able to care for them, such as the New England Herpatological Society.  That’s where the python and boa constrictor went.

Sometimes however we get an animal that we just don’t have the ability to house even for a little while.  These are usually farm animals like a pony, who needs a stable and other things that we don’t have at all.  When someone brings us theses types of animals we usually make a call to our friends at the MSPCA at Nevin’s farm and arrange for the owner to bring the animal there. Again, we don’t turn the person away, instead we help them get to a facility that can care for the animal.

Being an open admission animal shelter certainly makes things more interesting!

Now, is it a hassle sometimes to be an open admission shelter? Yes. Is it more expensive, more heartbreaking, more…difficult? Yes.  We wouldn’t trade it for the world though because it allows us to serve our community in the way that they need us and help animals in the way that THEY need.  We are a community coming together to help animals.  Animals of all kinds and all needs.  That’s what being an open admission shelter means and we love it!

different animals collage



1 thought on “What Does It Mean To Be An Open Admission Animal Shelter?”

  1. I love you APCSM!! Thank you for being an open admission shelter and doing so much for the sweet animals who need care.
    (From the adopter of Nolan, whom we took home on 7/22/18. Fell deeply in love with his brother Noah, too [as well as other kitties] – hope they’re all doing well!)

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