I’ve spent a lot of time over the years in animal shelters, so I know all about the misconceptions surrounding shelter animals. For instance: Many people think shelter animals are put there because of aggression or behavior problems. Wrong! According to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy, the top two reasons for an animal to end up in a shelter are (1) moving/financial and (2) landlord issues. Here, I’d like to clear up some of the myths and point to my top five reasons why adopting from a shelter is the absolute best decision you can make:
1. You’re saving TWO lives: You save the life of the animal you bring home, plus you make room in the shelter for another animal to take their place. This is true even if you’re adopting from a no-kill shelter. The no-kill shelters save animals from the kill shelters whenever they can.
2. You have a better chance of knowing the animal’s personality: Animals in shelters sometimes live there for months or even years. That time gives the caregivers a good handle on the dog or cat’s personality: if they’re sociable, loving, shy and so on. When you buy a puppy at a breeder or a pet store, you truly don’t know what you’re getting until they grow up and their adult personality emerges. Shelters are also invested in helping the animals find forever homes, so there will be many opportunities for you to spend time with the animal before bringing them home for good. (I encourage my readers to please not support pet stores. You can read about puppy mills here.)
3. Shelters offer more options: What do you want, a puppy or a kitten? A calm dog that has outgrown the tiring puppy stage? A cat in her senior years? A purebred golden retriever? Whatever kind of furry family member you’re looking for, you can likely find the perfect fit at one of your local shelters. You’re not limited to just puppies or kittens. And, yes, plenty of purebreds end up in shelters, too. Next time you go for an adoption, keep this startling fact in mind: Black cats and dogs are most often overlooked in shelters, so give special consideration to these little cuties, which are more difficult to rehome.
4. Shelters save other animals, too: Maybe you’re not a dog or cat person; you’d rather save a rabbit, hamster, ferret or bird. Yes, cats and dogs make up the majority of available animals at the rescue—but don’t forget there are other critters, too!
5. It’s less expensive and a good value: Breeders charge hundreds or even thousands of dollars for a single animal. When you adopt from a shelter, they’ve had a health checkup, their shots, may be spayed or neutered (or even microchipped!), come with a collar and ID tag, and sometimes they’re even potty trained.
I hear all the time that rescued pets make the best animal companions. Did you adopt from a shelter? I’d love to hear your story!