The number of pets who end up in shelters every year is astonishing. In the US, it’s estimated that 6 to 8 million cats and dogs enter shelters each year. While animal shelters do everything they possibly can to provide comfort for these dogs, most of these abandoned pets are in desperate need of a forever home. Millions of healthy, loving dogs are euthanized each year because they just don’t have anywhere to go. But you can make a difference in the life of these animals—when you are ready to welcome a new dog into the family, consider adopting a shelter dog.
Busting the Myths
There’s a lot of misinformation about dogs in shelters that could prevent someone from going the adoption route. Here are some of the most common myths and the truth about adopting.
MYTH: Shelters only have older dogs, and I want a puppy. Actually, shelters have pets of all ages. From puppies to seniors—and everything in between—you can find dogs in all stages of life. And remember, while puppies are cute, slightly older dogs will already be housetrained and easier to handle.
MYTH: I’m in love with a certain breed and shelters only have mixed-breed dogs. Not true! The National Council of Pet Population Study and Policy estimates that 25 percent of dogs in shelters are purebred. It may just be a matter of searching shelters in your area (which is much easier now with the advent of online adoption websites like Petfinder).
MYTH: If a dog’s been abandoned, there must be something wrong with him. Dogs are given up for all kinds of reasons. In truth, the majority of dogs who end up in shelters end up there through no fault of their own. Some owners have a change in life circumstances that prevent them from keeping a dog; some owners pass away and leave no one to care for their pet; and unfortunately some owners are just not cut out to be pet parents in the first place. Visit your local shelter and you’ll be amazed by the well-trained, loving, fabulous dogs you’ll find there.
MYTH: Shelter staff won’t be able to find me the right dog for my family. Hard-working shelter staff spend lots of time with the animals in their care. Most of them are experienced with adoption “matchmaking”—finding every potential adopter who walks through the door the perfect dog. After all, the last thing they’d want to see is a dog who gets sent back after being placed. It would just be too heartbreaking! That’s why they’ll carefully screen you to find out what kind of dog will suit you best.
For more information about adopting a shelter or rescue dog, read our article: Things You Need to Know Before You Adopt a Dog.