Shelter dogs get a bad rap. Shelter dogs are no less desirable than dogs obtained through breeders or pet stores. In fact, there are several benefits to adopting from a shelter over other methods. There are a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings surrounding animal shelters, but we’re here to set the record straight.
MYTH: People turn their dogs over to shelters mainly due to aggression or other behavioral problems.
This is probably the largest misconception about shelter dogs. People worry that rescue animals come with too much baggage – that they might be vicious or have other emotional and behavioral problems due to their previous owners. Truthfully, the dogs that end up in shelters come from all walks of life. Not all shelter dogs were scooped up from police raids or from an abusive household.
Dogs are often given up simply because the family can’t take care of them anymore. In some cases, they can no longer afford them. The previous owner may have passed away. They may be relocating to a place that won’t allow pets. They might even discover that a family member is allergic to them. Whatever the case may be, there are plenty of dogs in shelters that are perfectly well-adjusted pets; they just need a good home.
MYTH: Getting a purebred dog from a breeder is safer than rescuing a dog from a shelter because you know the animal’s family history. You never know what you’re getting with a shelter dog.
Breeders are not necessarily a safer bet than animal shelters. You can get a reputable dog from a breeder and still wind up with genetic issues or diseases. Many advocates of mixed breed dogs argue that purebred dogs tend to have worse issues with things like hip dysplasia or cancer since the traits that they are bred for aren’t always in the best interest of their long-term health.
However, even if you have your heart set on a purebred dog, you can still adopt one from an animal shelter. According to Found Animals, purebred dogs and cats make up around 25% of the mix at animal shelters. Not to mention, there are plenty of breed-specific rescues all over the United States. If there’s a specific breed you have your eye on, chances are there’s a rescue that specializes in rehoming that very breed.
MYTH: Shelter dogs are all older, so you’ll miss out on the puppy stage.
Animal shelters house pets of all ages, from puppy to geriatric. It’s not uncommon for a rescue to stumble upon entire litters of abandoned puppies or kittens, and these babies need homes too.
That said, there’s plenty to love in an older dog. The cute, tiny puppy stage is relatively short-lived in the physical sense, but puppy behaviors can stick around for the first 1-2 years. That’s 1-2 years of dealing with potential chewed up furniture, unreliable housetraining, and socialization issues. If you don’t have the time or energy to devote to a puppy, adopting an adolescent dog that’s grown out of the puppy phase may mean that all that hard work has already been done for you.
MYTH: Shelter dogs don’t bond to their handlers the same way.
Shelters work hard at assessing their animal’s situation and rehoming them in the environment that best fits their needs. They spend time with the dogs and get to know their personalities. They know whether they’d be a good fit for a household with a small child, another dog, or even a cat. They can tell you whether they enjoy playing fetch or are a total couch potato. You can be sure that the dog you’re adopting will fit in well with your household. What breeder can tell you that?
MYTH: Adoption fees are too expensive.
Adoption fees can vary highly depending on where you look, but you can pretty much guarantee that you’re getting a great deal when you consider how much care is given to a dog at a shelter before you come into the picture. For example, the shelter has to cover the costs of food, housing, medication and other veterinary care, as well as the spay/neuter process for intact dogs. A lot of shelters provide vaccinations such as Bordetella, Distemper, and Rabies. They might cover the costs of flea and heartworm prevention. Cumulatively, these costs can easily add up to over $1000.
If you still think the adoption fee is too steep, chances are you’re not financially equipped to handle a dog. Make sure you understand the budget required to care for your furry companion before you jump the gun. After all, you don’t want to end up handing your pet off to a shelter because you realized you couldn’t afford it.
Adopting from a shelter is an admirable way to find your four-legged friend. Adopting means providing a much-needed home for a stray animal, scooping them up off the streets and into your heart. According to the ASPCA, approximately 3.2 million dogs enter animal shelters in the United States each year. If you’re unable to adopt, consider donating to a local shelter to help cover the costs of care as every little bit helps.