A humane society typically provides shelters for animals that are victims of cruelty, abuse or neglect. It also has the responsibility and authority to rescue animals from hazardous situations, including crime scenes and accidents. As an animal protection organization, a humane society also educates the community about animal cruelty through lectures and hands-on programs.
In most communities, a humane society is commonly recognized as an animal protection group that cares for stray, homeless and abandoned animals, including dogs, cats, rabbits and horses, among others. Most humane societies set up no-kill animal facilities, but many also re-home animals temporarily in foster homes to make room for incoming animals. They also help train animals and prepare them for adoption into safe and happy homes.
In many states, humane society agents are given limited law enforcement powers to rescue and seize animals involved in accidents or animal cruelty at a crime scene. In some states, for example, if a concerned citizen reports a case of animal cruelty, agents of a humane society have the authority to investigate by executing a search warrant and arresting the offender. Humane society agents may be required to undergo police training to receive the ability to make arrests.
Many humane society chapters facilitate volunteer programs to reinforce personality and character development skills, such as responsibility, compassion and kindness. Some youth programs allow school-aged children to care for and interact with animals during winter or summer camps. Teens, young adults and other interested volunteers can help with chores in the facility, such as feeding, bathing, walking and socializing the animals.