Allergy sufferer or not, you may have heard some myths about shelter dogs that affect your decision about adopting vs buying.
In an ideal world, animal shelters wouldn’t need to exist. Unfortunately, they do exist and for a reason. Each year, almost 4 million dogs and 3.4 million cats enter an animal shelter in the US. While most go on to find a loving home, about 2.8 million dogs and cats aren’t so lucky.
To many people, adopting a dog seems an unattractive idea due to a few myths that float around.
We wanted to bust these straight up as doing so might save a few more pets from being put down each year!
Myth 1: Shelter Dogs Are Mutts
Sure, there are shelter dogs that come from a questionable gene pool, but this isn’t true of most shelter dogs.
Papered dogs bought from breeders or pet stores also end up in shelters more often than you think.
Many people who buy these dogs decide they can no longer keep them and so these pets end up on the streets or in a shelter. The Humane Society estimates around 25% of shelter dog populations are purebred dogs.
Good news for allergy sufferers, shelters can offer you specific information about dogs in their care that have come from such a background. You run less of a risk reacting to a pup if you know it’s breed and gene pool.
Not sure how to find the best shelter dog for you? No worries!
Services like Pet Finder allow you to set alerts for purebred or known mixed breed dogs that end up in a shelter. You can even set a general alert for all hypoallergenic dogs if you’re not tied to a specific breed you’d like to bring home!
Myth 2: Shelter Dogs Are Too Old
If you’re looking for a puppy to call your own, you may think you have better chances of buying from a breeder. That’s not always true though!
There’s more beyond the idea that shelter dogs are too old or that *only* old dogs can be adopted from a shelter!
Dogs of all ages are found in a shelter, yes, even puppies. Good news if you have your heart set on a cute little fur baby!
On the other hand, who’s to say an adult dog is a bad idea?
You’ll save a bucketload in vet expenses that come in the first few years of puppy ownership. And you stand a higher chance of getting a calm dog that needs less training.
If a quiet household is your thing, an older dog is likely the better way to go.
Quick note for new pet owners, puppy training is just as much for you as it is for the puppy. With an older dog, you can learn the ins and outs of dog ownership much easier. Older dogs are already socialised, have had some training and may also be patient with you as you learn.
As with anything in life, each has its pros and cons.
Myth 3: Something Must Be Wrong With Dogs That Come From a Shelter
This one irks us the most.
Dogs don’t end up in shelters by accident. Someone put them there, for better or for worse.
Many dogs in shelters come from loving families that simply could no longer keep them. When families or owners go through challenges, so do pets. Pets feel the effects of your divorce, eviction, overseas move and changes with employment status more than you can imagine.
Sometimes, dogs also get sick, just as humans do. Even if they experience treatable illnesses, some owners freak out at the vet costs and decide pet ownership is no longer suitable for them.
Sadly, these reasons, and more, mean that pets end up in shelters.
None of these scenarios mean that the dogs involved are damaged goods. They just mean that these dogs had nowhere else to go.
Myth 4: Shelter Dogs Have Behavioural Issues
Shelters are a stressful environment for dogs. They can often bring out behaviours that are not what you would experience in the safety of a home environment.
To get a better sense of the dog’s behaviour, there are a few things you can try:
- Ask to see how the dog behaves in a yard
- Visit a shelter with a dog foster program and speak to the current foster parents
- Invest in training and obedience classes
- Speak to the vet and trainers who have assessed the behaviour of the dog
Many shelter dogs are remarkably well adjusted, even in the stressful and loud environment of a shelter.
Myth 5: Adopted Dogs are Untrainable
We are quite surprised that this one comes up!
If you think about it, dogs living in a shelter aren’t there by choice. They would have experienced a great disruption in their day to day life forcing them into a new environment.
If they can adjust to the chaotic, unfamiliar and loud environment of a rescue shelter, why would they be unable to settle into your home?
Any dog will need training when you bring it into your home. This is how it will adjust to your routine and feel a sense of safety and comfort. But to presume that a shelter dog will be unable to settle into your routine is a myth we’re happy to bust.
Myth 6: Rescue Dogs Won’t Love you as Much
There is a common idea that rescue dogs carry a lot of baggage which prevents them from loving and trusting new owners.
This is just not true!
Every pup deserves a chance to get to know you. All it takes is a couple of sessions of fetch and they’ll be all over you in no time.
Keep in mind that shelter dogs see many people each day and may not immediately react to you. That’s why we love the idea of getting to interact with the pup that pulls at your heartstrings outside of the shelter if possible. It really doesn’t take that long for them to warm up to you at all!
Myth 7: Adopting a Pet Costs an Arm and a Leg
Obviously the literal sense is totally untrue!
But there are many people who seem to think that adopted pets cost a tonne more than buying a pet would. However, the facts all point to adopted pets costing less – especially if you adopt an older pet.
Adoption fees cover more than just the pet’s rescue. With the initial payment, you could also have saved yourself many vet visits, vaccination costs and training costs.
Many adopted dogs are already spayed or neutered and have been socialized.
We hope this article has helped shed light on some truths about dog adoption. It’s up to you whether you choose to buy or adopt but we hope that it’s clear the stigma around adopted dogs really doesn’t need to be there!