Adopting a pet is one of the greatest ways to add warmth and joy to your household, and selecting a pet from a shelter enables you to save a life at the same time.
Unfortunately, quite a few misconceptions exist regarding shelter animals, and these only serve as needless barriers to shelter animals finding the loving homes they so rightfully deserve.
Myth #1: Shelters Don’t Offer Purebreds
According to Dr. Jules Benson, the VP of Veterinary Services at Petplan Pet Insurance, 25% of all dogs in shelters are actually purebreds – a statistic that greatly discredits the common claim that all shelter animals are “mutts.” Purebred animals are surrendered for the same reasons mixed breeds are, so their presence within animal shelters across the nation is not surprising.
Myth #2: Purebreds Make Better Pets
Purebred animals and mixed breeds both offer excellent companionship. And when it comes to general health concerns, mixed breeds typically have a lower chance of being born with inherited congenital diseases, and that makes for lower veterinary costs in the long-run.
Myth #3: Shelter Animals Are Sickly
Some people automatically assume animals in shelters are sick, and these people are misinformed. Many shelter pets are very healthy. In fact, animals from shelters and rescue groups are 5% less likely to need unexpected veterinary care than animals purchased from pet stores.
Martha Smith-Blackmore, former president of the Association of Shelter Veterinarians, reiterates shelter animals’ health: “In well-run shelters, animals receive vaccinations upon intake and are fed a high-quality diet.”
Myth #4: Shelter Animals Aren’t Well-Behaved
Shelter pets often receive training and socialization prior to adoption in order to help make their transition into new homes easier. Also, most shelters will allow you to spend time with your potential pet to experience its temperament first-hand.
Sadly, some people mistakenly assume feral cats in particular are not able to easily and comfortably transition, but that’s simply not true. Although shyness and fear are typical characteristics of a feral cat, these traits can quickly lessen with patient and consistent human interaction.
Myth #5: Shelter Animals Are Older
All age ranges of animals can be found in shelter settings, so you can easily find puppies and kittens alongside senior animals. Keep in mind that while babies are certainly adorable, older pets are usually already well-trained and may require less work initially (as anyone who has endured puppy training knows all too well).
Myth #6: It’s Better to Get a Free Pet
This is one case where “free” isn’t exactly a bargain. Adopting an animal from a shelter or through a rescue group typically involves a nominal adoption fee, but in the long-run, you’re actually saving money on veterinary expenses. If you simply adopt an animal for free, you’re responsible for an extensive list of medical services:
- Spaying/neutering ($150-300)
- Distemper vaccination ($20-30, 2x)
- Rabies vaccination ($15-25)
- Heartworm test ($15-35)
- Flea/tick treatment ($50-200)
- Microchip ($50)
Myth #7: Something Must Be Wrong With a Surrendered Animal
Pet owners have numerous reasons for surrendering their animals. In fact, the main reasons pets are given up include:
- Owners are moving (7% dogs, 8% cats)
- Allergies (8% cats)
- Owners having personal problems (4% dogs and cats)
- Too many, or no room for litter mates (7% dogs, 17% cats)
- Owners can no longer afford the pet (5% dogs, 6% cats)
- Owners no longer have time for the pet (4% dogs)
Most of the time, these reasons have nothing to do with the animals themselves.
Benefits of Adopting a Shelter Animal
There are plenty of excellent reasons to adopt a pet instead of shopping for one.
1. Saving Lives: Shelters have tragically high euthanasia rates, so adopting a shelter animal literally means you’re saving a life. In addition, for every animal adopted, rescue groups can focus on saving another animal that needs help, so the whole process is truly a win-win.
2. Ending Puppy Mills: Purebred animals are often bred in deplorable conditions, and the animals suffer as a result of overcrowding, poor hygiene, little socialization and extreme physical demands. By adopting a pet from a shelter or rescue, you send the message that backyard breeders won’t be supported.
3. Making Dreams Come True: Each shelter animal is waiting for his or her forever home, and many of these animals have experienced distress from owner surrenders and lives lived on the mean streets. You have the opportunity to give an animal a life it has only ever dreamed of, and what could be more rewarding than that?
Kayla Matthews is a pet-loving productivity blogger with a passion for animals and especially big dogs! To read more articles by Kayla you can follow her on Google+ and Twitter, or at ProductivityTheory.com.