Shelter Myths Debunked: Myths About Animal Shelter Pets Debunked

12 Shelter Myths Debunked: Myths About Animal Shelter Pets Debunked

It is important to note that animal shelters benefit not only the community they serve, the surrounding residents and the animals.

They also assist in helping to control the pet population and, as a result, reduce euthanasia rates.

But many people don’t realize that they can also be a valuable resource for those looking to adopt a new pet.

The purpose and contribution of these organizations to society are often misunderstood. Animal shelters are subject to a few commonly held myths. 

Shelter Myths Debunked: Myths About Animal Shelter Pets Debunked
Shelter Myths Debunked: Myths About Animal Shelter Pets Debunked

The following myths about animal shelters and the precious pets they house are explored. I would appreciate any comments or queries you may have.

Even though these myths affect the animals in shelters, the shelters do everything they can to dispel them.

Shelter dogs, cats, and other animals are commonly misperceived regarding their ages and health. 

The vast majority of animal shelters are non-profit organizations that are run by passionate staff and volunteers.

They rely on donations, grants, and other forms of financial support to keep their doors open and care for the animals within their walls. 

Therefore, many animal lovers don’t even consider adopting a pet from a shelter. The 12 most popular myths about shelters are listed here – and debunked.

An animal shelter should be your first stop if you’re considering adopting a new furry friend. Your efforts won’t just save a life; you’ll likely find your new best friend in the process.

I have heard many people saying they want to raise a dog from a puppy stage since that dog would be loyal and train well. Trust me; there can be a bigger misconception than this. 

Shelter Myths Debunked

Myth 1: Shelter Animals Are Suffering From Diseases and Are Sick Animals 

Shelter Myths Debunked: Myths About Animal Shelter Pets Debunked
Shelter Myths Debunked: Myths About Animal Shelter Pets Debunked

It is a widely held misconception that shelter animals are all sick. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, most shelter animals are healthy and just waiting for their forever homes.

Well-managed shelter believes good animal health is extremely important, so they ensure their pets receive excellent medical care.

It is generally a routine procedure to neuter, vaccinate, microchip, deworm and treat the dogs for fleas and ticks.

Their health should be in good shape by the time they are adopted. Animals in shelters that are sick are those that cannot be treated medically, such as blind cases or cancer patients.

Myth 2: The Animals Have Never Been Socialized

Shelter Myths Debunked: Myths About Animal Shelter Pets Debunked
Shelter Myths Debunked: Myths About Animal Shelter Pets Debunked

Shelters invest a great deal of time and effort in training and socializing their animals.

As a result, there are fewer animal fights, and they have a greater chance of being adopted, and the transition to a new family goes more effortlessly.

Myth 3: There Are Only Old Animals In Shelters

Shelter Myths Debunked: Myths About Animal Shelter Pets Debunked
Shelter Myths Debunked: Myths About Animal Shelter Pets Debunked

An animal is not placed in a shelter because of its age but because of a set of particular circumstances.

The former owner’s financial situation might have changed, the owner might have passed away, an unplanned litter might have occurred.

The animal was abandoned because of high medical bills, or the pup grew up, and owner just fell out of love for the adult dog as he is no longer a cute pup.

Myth 4: Shelter Animals Are Damaged Goods

Shelter Myths Debunked: Myths About Animal Shelter Pets Debunked
Shelter Myths Debunked: Myths About Animal Shelter Pets Debunked

One of the most damaging myths about shelter animals is that they are “damaged goods.” This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Shelter animals are not damaged goods. They are simply animals that have been dealt a bad hand in life. But with the right love and care, they can go on to lead happy, healthy lives.

Whenever you consider adopting a new pet for you and your family, don’t let these myths deter you from visiting your local animal shelter. Remember, you could be saving a life.

Myth 5: There Are No Pure-Bred (Pedigreed) Animal Breeds In Shelters

Shelter Myths Debunked: Myths About Animal Shelter Pets Debunked
Shelter Myths Debunked: Myths About Animal Shelter Pets Debunked

It is not uncommon for pure-bred animals to be placed in shelters due to the change in circumstances of their former owners.

I have seen poodles, Pakistani bully, mastiffs, rottweilers, labradors, german shepherds, Dobermans, pit bulls, chihuahua, cocker spaniels in shelters waiting in vain to be adopted by their forever homes. 

The illegal puppy trade has resulted in many litters of pure-bred dogs being placed in animal shelters in recent years.

Myth 6: Adoption Fees Of Shelters Are Too Expensive

Shelter Myths Debunked: Myths About Animal Shelter Pets Debunked
Shelter Myths Debunked: Myths About Animal Shelter Pets Debunked

False. You must keep in mind that the animal shelter/rescue has done a lot for the pet – they purchased him, housed him, fed him, medicated him, spayed/neutered him, and had him properly vetted.

Usually, rescues and shelters test for heartworm, give flea preventatives and vaccinate against Rabies, Bordetella, and Distemper.

So if a shelter charges you for vaccinations and surgery, I still would say that you are getting off on a cheaper foot since you would be paying 4 times more cost at the breeder or a puppy mill.

It would be difficult to find a dog or cat for that price at a breeder or pet store (plus, you’re saving a life).

In reality, adopting from a shelter is often cheaper than purchasing an animal from a pet store or breeder.

This is because most shelter animals come with their vaccinations and spay/neuter surgery already taken care of. 

Adopting a shelter animal is also cheaper in the long run, as they are less likely to develop health problems later in life.

Myth 7: Animals In Shelters Are Usually Quite Dirty

Shelter Myths Debunked: Myths About Animal Shelter Pets Debunked
Shelter Myths Debunked: Myths About Animal Shelter Pets Debunked

False. When they’ve been cleaned up and given medications, shots, and spay/neuter surgery, if necessary, they shine with delight.

Many animal rescue organizations even groom the animals they have on a regular basis. 

Animal shelter volunteers brush clip nails, and bathe the animals. People, remember that these are animals – they are naturally smelling… so be kind to them.

Even humans have body odour and use deodorants to mask the smell. So would you say that humans are basically quite dirty and smelly?

Myth 8: Cats And Dogs Are The Only Animals Found In Animal Shelters

Shelter Myths Debunked: Myths About Animal Shelter Pets Debunked
Shelter Myths Debunked: Myths About Animal Shelter Pets Debunked

False. Many rescues have small mammal adoptions and offer rabbits, guinea pigs, camels, donkeys, horses, goats, pigs and other small four-leggers like gerbils.

You can even rescue birds like parrots!

Myth 9: There Is A Lack Of Knowledge About Pets Among Shelter Staff

Shelter Myths Debunked: Myths About Animal Shelter Pets Debunked
Shelter Myths Debunked: Myths About Animal Shelter Pets Debunked

False. Workers at a shelter are generally quite knowledgeable and are often the most valuable resource of the shelter.

Shelters often have veterinary technicians, animal behaviourists, other animal specialists volunteering, and veterinarians.

It is even possible for them to know the pet’s personality, temperament, likes, dislikes, and even what food he or she prefers.

Once you decide which pet you want to adopt, it’s best to ask what food he/she is currently eating.

It is best to leave shelter pets on the same food until you can consult a veterinarian since many shelters receive food donations from pet food companies.

Myth 10: Animal Shelter Dogs Are Aggressive and Have Behavioral Issues

Shelter Myths Debunked: Myths About Animal Shelter Pets Debunked
Shelter Myths Debunked: Myths About Animal Shelter Pets Debunked

Another common myth about shelter animals is that they are all aggressive. Again, this simply isn’t true.

The majority of shelter animals are gentle, loving creatures that just want a second chance. 

A change in circumstances is more likely to lead to an animal being placed in a shelter than an abnormal behavior.

Negative behaviors are only seen in a very small number of dogs and cats. In most cases, this is because they were rescued from poorly cared for situations.

A dog that has shown aggression towards humans is not someone you want to take on. The idea that shelter pets were surrendered for being aggressive is almost never true.

Of course, there are some animals that come into shelters with behavioural issues, but these are certainly not the majority.

This is usually due to a lack of socialization or abuse/neglect from their previous owners.  

If there is an aggressive animal, there is animal abuse behind it. These dogs are then treated by an animal behaviourist.

With the right care and training, these animals can often be rehabilitated and go on to lead happy, healthy lives.

Any such issues will be made clear to the adopter by the diligent employees at these shelters or the foster parents who care for shelter pets.

Myth 11: Older Animals Aren’t Capable Of Bonding

Shelter Myths Debunked: Myths About Animal Shelter Pets Debunked
Juliet is an adopted terminally ill shelter dog. She is nine years old and is my husband’s shadow. Read her full story here.

Taking on a new puppy or kitten right now may be too much for you, so you might be contemplating about adopting a senior dog or cat for altruistic reasons.

There may also be some misconceptions about older pets’ inability to bond with their owners, but honestly, this could not be further from the truth.

Senior and adult shelter dogs can bond just as well as a pet. They are toilet trained, know how to walk on a leash and will shower you with their love.

The bonding ability of a pet is not correlated with its age. After my 3 dogs passed away from old age, I adopted 4 shelter dogs aged four years, nine years, eight years and 8.5 years and have no bonding issues.

It is as if I have known them all their lives! Since dogs are not psychic and pseudo by nature like humans, they have no problems in bonding. It comes naturally to them.

Myth 12: Breeders Have Better Bloodlines, So They Are Safer To Go To

Shelter Myths Debunked: Myths About Animal Shelter Pets Debunked
Juliet, a pure-bred cocker spaniel, was abandoned by the breeder. She is in her forever home ow. Happy and smiling all the way. Read her full story here.

In addition to getting purebred dogs, many people want to avoid getting dogs with aggression issues (see the preceding myth!).

Purebred dogs are more likely than shelter dogs to have genetic disorders and medical issues due to their breeding.

Bloodlines and histories are useful tools for evaluating an animal’s value, but they cannot predict an animal’s behavior.

If you think about it, shelter workers are much more motivated to ensure you get the right fit regarding cat or dog behaviour, as the last thing they want is for that pet to return to them again.

The Shelter May Perform The Following During The Pet’s Stay (If Needed):

Shelter Myths Debunked: Myths About Animal Shelter Pets Debunked
Shelter Myths Debunked: Myths About Animal Shelter Pets Debunked
  • Preventative vaccinations
  • Neutering and spaying
  • Treatment of dental problems 
  • Microchipping

The shelter will ensure an animal is stable before adoption if he or she has a chronic disease, such as diabetes, cancer growth, heart problems, epilepsy, etc. 

No shelter knowingly adopts out sick animals — especially without notifying potential adopters.

Common Characteristics of Reputable Animal Shelters

Common Characteristics of Reputable Animal Shelters
Common Characteristics of Reputable Animal Shelters
  • Compassionate trained staff and volunteers to care for animals
  • Isolation and sick wards for sick animals
  • Pre-adoption home checks and follow-ups
  • Well-trained, gentle staff administer who can inject an intravenous injection of sodium pentobarbital as a humane euthanasia method in extreme cases
  • A policy prohibiting the sale or donation of animals to laboratories or guard dogs
  • Animal cruelty investigators
  • Indoor/outdoor dog runs
  • 24/7 availability of a veterinarian
  • Providing a large, sunny area for cats to sit as well as individual cages for cats who require confinement
  • Adoptable animals can be met and gotten to know in a quiet room
  • Teaching children and adults how to properly care for animals through an active public education program
  • A spay/neuter program that ensures all animals are sterilized upon adoption or that ensures they are sterilized thereafter
  • A minimum five-day policy for holding lost and stray animals, including one Saturday

Meet My Pawsome Pets Adopted From Shelters

I initially contacted the Friendicoes SECA shelter to adopt a dog after my 3 senior dogs died, but when I saw Juliet, Bonnie, and Dovi, I knew they were meant to be with us.

Sam was adopted from Posh Foundation, Noida and Nara was a throwaway (literally… her fault?

She was not a pedigree and hence was not worthy of being kept inside the house). They are sweet furry babies who love to cuddle and play fetch.

I am so indebted to God for having them in my life! Read their adoption story here in detail. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/Cep0QZyob2F/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
https://www.instagram.com/p/CWN7tJMIbkg/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Final Thoughts: Adopt, Don’t Shop!

There are many misconceptions about shelters, but these are only a few. I strongly recommend that you visit your local shelter if you’re looking for a pet. 

There are plenty of staff members who will be happy to assist you, and the experience may convince you that many of your assumptions about shelters are inaccurate.

Shelter pets have a lot of love to offer, and you’ll feel great knowing that you helped an animal in need. If you decide to open up your heart and home to a shelter pet, we are here for you.

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