Click here to learn more.
Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
Some of the nicest pets come from shelters. I should know: Plenty of my patients were adopted from shelters, as were two of my four dogs, including Amazing Gracie, my beloved 7-year-old Lab-Pit Bull mix.
But I know that sometimes people have concerns about adopting pets from shelters. They worry about how and why the animals wound up in there. They think that maybe they weren’t friendly or they misbehaved or, in the case of cats, wouldn’t use the
litterbox. Or they assume animals at shelters may be sick or injured or otherwise unsuitable as pets.
I’m here to tell you that’s just not the case. Most pets who land in shelters are healthy and well-adjusted. Often, though, they have been relinquished by owners who didn’t have the time, money or space to care for otherwise healthy and happy
dogs and cats.
In my experience, there are five myths about shelters and shelter pets that come up over and over. Here's the truth about all of them.
Myth: There must be something wrong with a pet if he's in a shelter.
Reality: More often than not, something has gone wrong with the owner, not the pet. Most animals end up in shelters through no fault of their own. “One of the main reasons animals are given up is because their owners are no longer able to provide proper care, perhaps due to financial hardship, a move to a new home, illness or death of the owner or a change in lifestyle,” says Aimee Gilbreath, executive director of Michelson Found Animals, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping shelter pets find homes. “In all of these situations, the animal is relinquished for reasons unrelated to [its] health, temperament or behavior.”
Myth: Shelter personnel don’t know anything about the personalities of individual animals.
Reality: Making the right
match between people and pets is Job One for shelter staffs. When possible, staffers gather information from former owners; in addition, they make their own observations over time as they interact with the pets awaiting adoption. In order to find the dog or cat that's right for you, Gilbreath suggests, chat with the shelter volunteers: “Often, it’s the volunteers who have the chance to spend the most time with individual animals and can help match you with your new best friend.”
Myth: There's no way to ensure that I will get the right pet for me.
Reality: Shelters are constantly looking at ways to create an easier adoption process, provide adopters with more information and make sure there’s a really good match between person and pet. Lisa Pedersen, CEO of the
Humane Society of Boulder Valley in Boulder, Colorado, says that at HSBV, counselors have individualized conversations with potential adopters about their pet-owning experiences, lifestyle and wants and needs from a pet.
But not every match is perfect; sometimes a pet is brought back to the shelter as part of HSBV’s adoption satisfaction program. And that's not a terrible thing.
“That animal has gotten a chance to go into a home environment,” Pedersen says. “When it comes back to us, we have a better understanding of what that animal is like in a home, so we have more information to give to the next potential adopter. That’s been a hugely successful approach for us. We want the chance to create a better match for that animal, as well as send that family an animal who might be more suited for them.”
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Get all the best pet news and information sent right to your inbox!
Thank you for subscribing!
When fans heard that the singer visited a
cat café and loved on a cat named Larry,
they lined up at Catfe to…
For the most part, you don't need to worry
if your kitty doesn't make this common
warning sound. Our vet explains why.
A people-loving dog who hails from Italy,
the Bracco Italiano is usually happiest
when he's with his family or out…
Do cats follow us to get our attention, or
could it be a sign of love? Our expert
shares her top reasons for this…
Parasites are no fun for dogs. Learn how
to protect your canine from heartworms,
hookworms, whipworms and more.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
Visit HealthyPet magazine for interviews with pet-loving celebrities, health advice from our experts, training tips and…
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.