Most work at animal shelters is done by volunteers. Animal shelters require a lot of mundane, menial work such as cleaning cages and pens. Dogs and horses also need to be trained and exercised.
Animal shelters mostly rely on donations, although animal control gets city or county funding. A humane society generally does not get any kind of government subsidy. Breed rescues are sometimes supported by a breed society.
An animal control facility is commonly obligated to take in any kind of animal that may be brought in, ranging from puppies and kittens to cows, sheep and goats. In many cases, large animals are fostered or specialist rescues are contacted.
Shelters may find themselves dealing with a situation involving cruelty and abuse. Animals may be remanded into the custody of a shelter until the court case occurs, with adoption restricted or banned. Photographic documentation of the animal's condition is important. Most animals that come into shelters, though, are simply homeless for one reason or another, with many being abandoned. A shelter or humane society may also deal with stray and lost cats or dogs. Animal control generally puts strays in the pound until their owner can be found. Most rescued animals are eventually put up for adoption.
Fund raising is an important part of a shelter's activities. Rescues are generally required to get a 501(c) and may be set up as a foundation. The physical center is also subject, in many jurisdictions, to inspection. Other areas, however, only check on a rescue's finances.
Adoption fairs are also important, and may take place at the shelter's facility or at pet stores or even other locations. It is often easier to find homes for puppies and other youngsters. Shelter workers tend to be young, mostly volunteers or low paid, and doing it for the love.