Common myths about shelter pets
Every year millions of pets end up in shelters and rescue groups all over the country. Many people avoid shelters when looking for a pet because they think that shelter pets are “damaged goods.” This belief is far from the truth, and we’ll tell you why!
»Myth: Pets only end up in shelters because they have behavior problems or are sick.
Truth: Some pets do end up in shelters and rescue groups because their owners can’t handle their perceived behavior problems (which may be as easy to fix as an older puppy reluctant to housebreaking), but most of them end up in shelters because of a combination of these reasons:
- They were strays. The dogs or cats either never had a home to begin with, or they ran away from home and their owners didn’t reclaim them.
- The owner moved and couldn’t take his/her pet with.
- Owners were too busy to take care of their pets, or couldn’t afford to due to job loss, medical emergencies, etc.
- Owners didn’t know how to train their pet to behave appropriately.
- Owners got rid of their pet when their baby was born.
- Owner or family members developed allergies to the pet.
- The pet required a medical procedure that the owner couldn’t afford.
- Owners and their family simply lost interest in the pet, especially true for older puppies and kittens.
These reasons can be summed up by the following:
Pets end up in shelters because people have purchased or adopted a pet that is unsuitable for their lifestyle.
Remember that most pets require some amount of training. If you buy a puppy from a breeder, for example, you’re going to put just as much (if not more) time into training it as you would into training an older shelter dog with one or two small behavior issues. Puppies are not “blank slates”; their temperaments and behaviors are largely influenced by their genetics, so buying a puppy so you can “raise, socialize, and train it right” offers absolutely no guarantees on how that puppy will turn out. Most adolescent dogs end up in shelters because their owners just didn’t know how to train them, and they outgrew the cute puppy stage.
»Myth: You never know what you’re getting with a shelter or rescue pet.
Truth: When you deal with a reputable shelter or rescue group that gets all vetting done – spay/neuter, vaccinations, deworming, heartworm preventative, etc. – and temperament tests all of their adoptable pets, you DO know what you’re getting! You know of any visible health issues, and you know their temperament. Foster parents are able to test the adoptable pets in a variety of situations (with other pets, people of all types, public places, etc.) to learn what the dog or cat is comfortable with. And even shelters are able to professionally evaluate a pet’s temperament, so they can tell you what that pet’s strengths and weaknesses are.
»Myth: You have to start the bonding process when your pet is a baby.
Truth: Rescued pets are often noted as being “grateful” for their new lease on life. Just see our Success Stories page for testimonials about how happy these pets (and their new owners!) are. Forming a bond with an animal whose life you saved comes naturally for most people. There is nothing magical about the bonding process that it needs to be started right when a puppy or kitten is weaned. Dogs and cats become attached to the people who take care of their basic needs, no matter when those people came into their lives.