Rescue Shelters. What’s the difference between an animal shelter and a rescue shelter? Animal shelters are a community resource for routine animal housing and adoptions. A rescue shelter brings animals in off the streets or dangerous situations. These animals often need extensive veterinary care. This includes long-term socializing followed by careful matching with owners. Rescuers also provide temporary shelter for lost pets who need help after a natural disaster. These animals are often injured and traumatized from their experience. They need specialized care. The difference between kinds of animal shelters shifts when shelters adapt to emergency situations within the community. An adoption shelter can become a rescue shelter during a localized crisis. Even zoo animals have found safety at a local shelter until the threat of a hurricane passed!