Soon after fluffy ponies were released upon the unsuspecting world, Fluffy Shelters began popping up in almost every city. Much like ordinary animal shelters, Fluffy Shelters exist as a way to get unwanted, abandoned, stray and feral fluffies off from the streets and (hopefully) be adopted by owners who can provide them with love and a safe place. While exceptions do exist, many shelters are portrayed as places that offer fluffies only death and misery instead of safety and happiness. Shelters often operate off of Government funding, and most states offer shelters only a shoe-string budget. As a result, shelters are often overcrowded, understaffed and short of supplies. A stay at a shelter may be a traumatic or fatal experience. Shelters have poor adoption rates. Once a fluffy is put inside, its odds to survive are low. Sickness and diseases are rife among the cramped and crowded shelters. Fluffies are often crammed into undersized cages that they aren't able to run or play. In the event that they are put within larger pens, they tend to run amok and unsupervised, where bully fluffies rule the roost and abuse those weaker than themselves. Food shortages are common due to underfunding. Hygiene management is also poor, meaning the fluffies are forced to sleep and walk amongst their own excrement, and are rarely bathed due to the lack of staffing.
The conditions of a shelter are almost as rough on those who run them as they are on the fluffies themselves. The attrition rate for shelter employees is abysmal, and has gotten so bad that many courts will sentence people to community service in a shelter. Faced with long hours of grueling, unrewarding work for minimum wage, the average shelter employee quits before his or her third week. Those who actually care for fluffies are often the first to go, unable to tolerate being around so many suffering fluffies and not being able to help. As a result, most staffers are apathetic to the suffering of fluffies, and a few downright enjoy it.
Still, some fluffies do get a second chance on life from a shelter. Shelters are generally the cheapest option for adopting a fluffy, and often charge a fraction of cost and often with no paperwork involved and no questions asked. Hugboxers often adopt fluffies from shelters so they can give them a better life in a loving home. However, abusers also prey on shelter fluffies due to their low price tag, and many fluffies find themselves being taken out of the frying pan and thrown into the fire... sometimes literally. Most shelters don't care who adopts fluffies or for what reason, as every fluffy who gets adopted is one less that they have to deal with.
Many shelters have a policy of putting down fluffies who stay for too long. The time span may vary between several months to a single week. Some shelters even go so far as to sort out and kill any fluffy that they deem to be unadoptable, such as smarties or fluffies with ugly colors. Sick, handicapped or retarded fluffies are swiftly culled. Some shelters don't have the funding for formula, and will simply kill orphan foals on the spot. Punishments in crowded shelters are often draconian, and even the most minor infraction of shelter rules can carry the death penalty. Bully fluffies tend to abuse this policy to get fluffies that they don't like to be killed by causing trouble and them framing another fluffy. Sometimes, the shelter staff will simply kill any fluffy at random whenever a rule is broken, not even bothering to find the actual culprit.
The method of euthanasia varies from shelter to shelter. Better funded shelters often use lethal injection that gives the fluffy a painless death, similar to falling asleep. Shelters with less money instead improvise with cruder methods, such as a crushing, drowning, strangulation, or simply breaking the fluffies neck with their bare hands. Shelters with on-site incinerators will, in the interest of saving time and money, simply burn the fluffy alive. Even throwing fluffies into a dumpster or barrel and letting them starve has been known to happen. Abusers who work at shelters will often relish in this duty, and many will taunt and torture the fluffies that are to be put down.
Exceptions to the Norm Edit
While most shelters are portrayed as atrocious even in hugbox stories, a few shelters try to break the mold and provide fluffies with a comfortable stay. Many of these are privately funded rather than state sponsored, and thus have a higher budget. Some prevent overcrowding by turning away ferals and only taking in abandoned or unwanted fluffies, although this can be seen as hypocritical. Fluffies at these shelters are given toys, better food (sometimes even spaghetti), clean litter boxes, large areas to play in, formula for orphan foals, and proper medical treatment, and best of all, a no-kill policy. The shelters only employ workers who care for the fluffies, and don't accept any cruelty whatsoever. While the better shelters often try their hardest to ensure that the fluffies they adopt go to good and loving homes, some abusers with a low profile will still prey upon these shelters, as they find that ruining the life of a happy fluffy is far more satisfying than making a miserable fluffy even more miserable.
A few shelters specifically cater to abused fluffies. Fluffy vets and psychologists work to try to rehabilitate these victimized fluffies and adopt them out to loving owners. These shelters also attract abusers, and will often drop off the fluffies that they themselves abused, believing that the fluffy is broken beyond repair and any attempt at prolonging its life will just bring it more misery. This is most common among those who specialize in psychological abuse.
It's worth pointing out that in a few extremely hugboxy universes, nice shelters like this ARE the norm.