Frequently Asked Questions

    Q: Is Homeward Bound part of the Humane Society of the United States or connected to other humane societies? Is Homeward Bound a government organization?
    A: Homeward Bound is the Addison County Humane Society. We adopted the name Homeward Bound during our 2012 Capital Campaign. We are a private non-profit organization serving Addison County Vermont. Although we interact and when appropriate work with other Humane Societies including national ones, we are not a branch of them or governed by them, etc. While the shelter is licensed by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, we are not a government agency.

    Q: Where does Homeward Bound get the funds to operate?
    A: We rely on donations, fees for services, and fund raising activities to bring in the income to run the shelter 365 days a year and to provide the programs for animals and people that fulfill our mission.

    Q: Does the Government provide funds for Homeward Bound?
    A: We do not receive any federal or state funds. We do receive some funding from local towns either to provide contracted services or as a charitable contribution.

    Q: What do I do if I want to become a volunteer?
    A: Please visit our website for complete information and details on the volunteer program and how to get involved.

    Q: Why do you have a minimum age for volunteering?
    A: We currently require volunteers to be 16 to volunteer independently at the shelter. Volunteers 14-16 may volunteer with an adult. We do not permit volunteers under 14 due to the limited ability of our staff to supervise and support them.

    Q: Is Homeward Bound a volunteer organization?
    A: We are governed by an all-volunteer Board of Directors and operated by paid staff. We operate a year-round volunteer program and our volunteers support and expand the services staff provides the animals and in the community.

    Q: Is Homeward Bound a No-Kill shelter?
    A: While Homeward Bound’s policies and practices about euthanasia are the same as most no-kill shelters we choose to not use that term. Homeward Bound does not euthanize animals who are adoptable regardless of length of stay or space available in the shelter. When we do decide to euthanize an animal, the decision is made because the animal is either so injured, sick or behaviorally damaged that adoption would be an inhumane or unsafe choice.

    Homeward Bound is an open admission—or open door—humane society. This means that we will not turn away any animal that comes to our doors. Many of these animals are healthy, good natured dogs and cats who go up for adoption—and there are no time limits on how long they can stay up for adoption.

    Q: If you act like a No-Kill shelter why don’t you just call yourself one?
    A: The phrase “no-kill” can make people feel very good about supporting an organization and it can also be very confusing and misunderstood. There are many good shelters that call themselves “no-kill,” just as there are many fine shelters that are “open admission.” Ultimately, much of the confusion about “no-kill” stems from the fact that there is no universally accepted definition of the term. One organization’s idea of no-kill can vary widely from another’s. Therefore, it is important to look into the issues surrounding the idea of no-kill in order to understand the ways in which organizations help animals.

    Q: Do you provide veterinary services like spay/neuter surgery or vaccinations?
    A: Homeward Bound does not have a veterinarian on staff. We are generously served by local veterinarians who donate their time to examine and provide other clinical services for animals who are going up for adoption.

    Q: Where can I get low-cost vet care?
    A: For low-cost spay/neuter, there are several ways to obtain low-cost spay/neuter surgeries for your pet(s). For information about VSNIP (the Vermont Spay Neuter Incentive Program) click here. For information about low-cost spay/neuter surgeries for felines only visit the site of Green Mountain Animal Defenders another private independent animal welfare organization in our community with ties to a low-cost spay/neuter clinic. In 2009, VT-CAN! (Vermont Companion Animal Neutering) opened an affordable spay/neuter clinic for both dogs and cats in Middlesex, VT – click here to visit their site. For other vet care, you will have to consult with one of our area’s private practices.

    Q: Why don’t you offer low cost medical care to the community?
    A: We have limited financial and human resources to care for and treat the animals brought to our facility on a daily basis. Just as significant, it’s important to remember that we are a not-for-profit animal care organization and not a veterinary clinic or hospital. We have an outstanding community of committed and talented veterinarians who are skilled at both consulting with owners and determining the best course of treatment.

    Q: Do you provide boarding/temp care?
    A: Due to the constraints of our kennels, we are unable to board owner animals or provide temporary care. We do make an exception for pet owners who are experiencing crisis or are victims of domestic violence and you may click here for more information on this program.

    Q: Do you have extra pet food?
    A: We rely on the generosity of supporters in the community for the majority of the food we provide the shelter animals. At times, we have more donations than we can store or share with the local food shelf and may have extra available for pet owners in need or people caretaking feral cats. We cannot predict when this will be the case.

    Q: Is there a fee for surrendering an animal?
    A: We accept and offer shelter and care to all animals in need. Therefore we do not require a fee from anyone surrendering a pet or bringing in a stray. However, because of the expenses we incur to feed, house, vet, and re-home an animal, we ask that you give as generous a donation as you are able at the time of surrender.

    Q: I’ve heard that if someone surrenders a pet they will never be allowed to adopt from your shelter. Is that true?
    A: No. First and foremost, making a good match is our top priority – and if that means that someone who previously surrendered an animal winds up being a great match for another pet somewhere in the future, then we’re thrilled to make that match. We understand that people’s lives change and that sometimes, due to a variety of circumstances, people are unable to keep, maintain, and care for their pets. Years later, under different circumstances, that same person may be ready and interested in adopting a new pet.

    Q: Why do you require appointments for surrendering animals?
    A: Due to the fact that we are open limited hours each week, and sometimes care for more than 100 animals each day, we utilize appointments to keep the shelter on schedule. Likewise, we have limited space and resources and – because we are housing healthy and behaviorally sound animals for as long as it takes to find a home – effective resource management is key to our success. Occasionally, depending on the current pet population in our shelter, we may have a wait list for people need to re-home their pets.

    Q: What do I do if I have an animal I need to surrender?
    A: First, please take a moment to gather all the information about your pet that you have gotten while you owned them and think about your pet and what special needs and quirks he or she may have. This will enable you to answer the staff questions quickly and easily. Please call the shelter during our open hours and you will speak with a staff person who will take down your information and consult with the manager about when to schedule your appointment. As mentioned before, you may be placed on a wait list if the shelter is full. Please don’t wait to the last minute before calling us if you think you may need to re-home your pet. We would much rather cancel your appointment than be unable to accommodate you!

    Q: Do you have employees that pick up strays?
    A: We accept stray animals from citizens and Animal Control Officers but we do not have the staff resources to go out and “catch” them.

    Q: What do I do if I see a stray?
    A: Try first to find out if the animal has a collar or tags and is an owned pet out for a stroll! If not or if you are not sure, you may bring the animal into us or call your town Animal Control Officer to do so for you. Even if it outside of our usual hours, we have staff here taking care of the shelter animals and can always help a stray.

    Q: What happens to stray animals that are brought to Homeward Bound?
    A: We are required by state law to hold the animal for 7 days to allow an owner a reasonable amount of time to locate their pet. During that 7 day period, we will provide any urgent medical care if required. After that period, we will begin to ready the animal for adoption—scheduling vaccinations, spay/neuter if needed, veterinary check-ups and behavioral assessments.

    Q: Do you have “Animal Cops”?
    A: We take calls concerning animals who maybe neglected, abused or treated cruelly and work with local animal control officers and law enforcement to investigate these calls. Our first goal is always to resolve an issue by educating the person about animal care and helping them find the resources they need.

    Q: What do I do if I suspect animal neglect or cruelty?
    A: You may call us or go online to and file a report there. Filing a report online can be done anonymously and is the fastest and most effective way to let us know of your concerns.