One of the reasons which might stop a future pet parent to adopt an animal from a rescue or a shelter is the host of misleading information regarding pet adoption. These wrong beliefs and misguided information have given birth to a plethora of pet adoption myths.
Like urban legends, pet adoption myths are often rooted from real life problems but are given a whole new life by people who either romanticize or sensationalize real concerns to become their own hyped-up boogeymen. Now, this is not to say that we must let go of common sense when adopting a pet or an animal but rather, we should let go of unfounded fears and worries. This will allow for open minds and, more importantly, open arms to love and care for another creature.
To help you guys out, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 most common pet adoption myths and the truth behind each of them below.
Myth #1 - Animals in Shelters are Damaged Goods
This has to be the most common and widely believed of all pet adoption myths. Oftentimes people think that animals are in shelters because they have health or psychological conditions which makes them less desirable but this is simply not true. As Gulf Coast Humane Society’s Executive Director Jennifer Galloway says in her statement, “I would love for people to know that most shelter pets end up where they are at for no reason of their own, they are not damaged goods. Most come to us because of a death, divorce, birth, lifestyle change, moving or because the family did not train.”
Surely we can do better than just lump all animals in shelters and rescues into one group right? We’ll discuss this in length in all the other pet adoption myths and pet adoption truth mentioned in this article.
Truth #1 – Animals are Oftentimes in Shelters Due to No Fault of Their Own
These days, families who love their pets and animals can surrender their pet for reasons which have nothing to do with the pet’s health and behavior. Here are some example of situations like these are the following:
Unemployment and being unable to afford the cost of keeping the pet.
such as moving to a smaller place where no pets are allowed or having to go work abroad.
Deployment as in the case of military personnel.
A new baby with animal hair allergy.
Old age and changing health condition of pet owner.
Demise of pet owner.
Divorce with neither party being in the position to keep the pet.
So yes, not all rescued animals or those in shelters are damaged goods. GM Hart says, “Not every rescued animal is damaged; not all rescues come from horrific backgrounds or circumstances. Not all have faced abuse or neglect, not all have some major issue that caused them to be homeless. Sometimes, a dog is just a dog that was dealt a bad hand.”
It is true that in some cases, pets are surrendered or taken to shelters because of factors which are directly concerning the pet such as:
Pet growing too big - As in the case of mini pot belly pigs who can grow up to slaughter-size hogs, some animals grow to be much bigger that originally expected.
Pet being too energetic for the owner’s lifestyle - This is often a case when the pet parent does not do doing the necessary research prior to adoption. There can be cases of cute and cuddly puppies or kittens who just sleep all day but become bundles of energy as they grow older. Some behavioral traits are breed specific and this should be taken into consideration when choosing an animal.
Pet being too noisy or too quiet for owner’s liking – While animals can have breed specific behavior, it is unfair to expect that the parrot you got now will be as easy to teach as the parrot you got 20 years ago. Like humans, pets also have personalities which are different from their general disposition according to breed or specie. Something like this should not be held against an animal unless it becomes too disruptive or can hurt people.
Pet is not cute anymore – This is of course the most unfair of all reasons to surrender or get rid of a pet but sadly, this does happen. Sometimes a pet parent gets rid of a pet because they recently got a younger and cuter one or just because the pet does not look like the cuddly little creature they adopted. How would you feel if your parents got rid of you just because you lost your golden curls when you grew up? Not so fun eh?
Myth #2 – Animals for Adoption are Old and/or Sick
This myth comes up in our list in a number of ways but again, it is simply a myth and the truth is far from it.
Truth #2 – Animals for Adoption Are All Ages, Breeds, and Health Conditions
Shelters, rescues, sanctuaries, and pounds are teeming with adoptable animals from all ages, health condition, size, and breed. Do you want a puppy? A 2 month old kitten? A breeding age female guinea pig? You can find them all for adoption at a local shelter or nearby rescue. All you have to do is make some inquiries.
Myth #3 – You Don’t Know What You’re Getting If You Adopt from a Shelter or Rescue
For some reason, a huge majority of future pet parents thinks that animals at rescues and shelters are dropped off with no info whatsoever. These days, you can get an animal or pet with a detailed health record, thanks to microchips!
Truth #3 – Rescues and Shelters Get to Know Their Animals Well
Remember that the goal of most rescues and shelters is to get an animal adopted with a compatible pet parent or family. This is why adoption can be a long process because rescues and sometimes shelters do take time to get to know the animal for them to be able to match it with the best adoption option. A great tip is to talk to volunteers or people working at the facility because they would have the best idea of each animal’s personality and how it might mesh with your needs.
Myth #4 – The Only Animals Up For Adoption are Cats and Dogs
Not true! These days there are plenty of animals and pets going homeless. Just a quick look at craigslist and you’ll sometimes find exotic animals aside from the usual ones like hamsters, cats, dogs, gerbils, and guinea pigs.
Truth #4 – All Sorts of Animals Are Available for Adoption
If you have a certain animal or pet in mind, it won’t hurt to call the shelters in your area and you might just get surprised by the array of creatures needing a home. Some shelters have turtles, birds, snakes, farm animals, and even spiders! Who knows, you might even find your new animal best friend?
Myth #5 – Pets for Adoption Are Dirty and Sickly
Healthy animals are brought in shelters, pounds, rescues, and other facilities for various reasons such as their family is moving away or the pet simply got too big. That is far from being dirty and sickly!
Truth #5 – Pets for Adoption Are Thoroughly Checked
First of all, most shelters and rescues won’t adopt out a pet or an animal with a health issue. More over, rescues often rehabilitate an animal and makes sure it is ready for a new home before allowing the new owner to take it home. As for shelters, they have in-house vets, staffs, and sometimes volunteers who can give you the run down on the animal’s condition. You can also check out an animal prior to formalizing the adoption.
Myth #6 – No Pure Breed Pets are Available for Adoption
Plenty of pure breed animals end up in shelters for various reasons, the most common being financial and/or the pet parent having an unforeseen change of circumstances.
Truth #6 – Up to 25% of Adoptable Animals are Pure Breed
It is true! In some shelters, you can even request to be notified when a certain breed of pet or animal becomes available. If you are really keen on having a pure breed animal, rescues are a much better option than shelters because rescues tend to focus on only 1 animal type at a time as compared to shelters which usually take in all sorts of critters.
Myth #7 – Adopting a Pet Costs an Arm and a Leg
Getting a pet is never cheap to begin with. Having an animal means being a responsible owner and of course that comes with paperwork and having to shell out a bit of dough. Different facilities have different fees and yes, the fees may look like a lot at first glance but when you do the math, you are actually saving yourself a lot.
Truth #7 – Adopting a Pet is Cheap Considering Everything
Neutering, spaying, checking an animal for health conditions, treating underlying conditions if any, and a complete round of vaccinations all cost money. By adopting from a rescue or shelter, you’ll either get a discounted rate and will have to pay only a portion of the total or even pay nothing except the adoption fee. That’s a great bargain!
Myth #8 – Once a Pet Has Been in a Shelter, That Animal is Damaged for Life
Being surrendered to a shelters and being in a sad situation can hurt anyone, but this doesn’t mean forever (except maybe in the most extreme cases). Just a quick look online and you’ll see stories of animals who have been through the toughest situations and abuse and yet they turned out to be the sweetest friend their pet parents could ever hope for.
Truth #8 – You Can Never Judge an Animal With Just 1 Look
Animals have a remarkable ability to heal and what looks like a scared little ball of fur in 1 corner of a cage can turn out to be the sun-shiniest bundle of joy when given the opportunity. Sharon of Scooby North America attests to this, saying “don’t pass by a shelter animal just because they may have been through rough times. They can overcome their problems with the right care, patience and training and be very devoted family members!”
Myth #9 – Only Young Animals Make Good Pets
For some reason, people tend to cling to the notion that getting the pet as young as possible is the best way to ensure that the pet will grow up to be whatever they want it to be. This is also one of the reasons why people end up giving their pet away – because their expectation didn’t meet reality.
Truth #9 – Old Animals Make Great Pets Too!
Just like young pets, older animals can have their own charms. You may not be able to enjoy the cute moments that a young animal brings when you adopt a senior animal, but then, adopting an older pet can also mean that the animal has come to his or her full growth and has a settled personality. The animal is also way past his or her destructive phase and can be a very good companion for you, even for just a few years.
Myth #10 – Shelters and Rescues are Sad Gloomy Places
This may be true a decade or more ago but these days, shelters and rescues have changed a lot and they are far from the places-where-horror-stories are made of years past. Rather than clinging on seeing the animal as a sad creature stuck in a shelter, think of how much better that animal’s life would be living with you. Angels of Assisi Adoption Center Director Matthew Brown says something to the same effect: “Don't focus on seeing them in cages but rather snuggled up with you on the couch so they never have to be in the cage again.”
Truth#10 – Shelters and Rescues are Animal Care Centers
Of course there are exceptions but you also have to understand that most shelters’ and rescues’ goal is to give animals a better life in every way they can. The good thing is, animals do not get hung up in the past like people do, so even if the pet looks forlorn at the shelter’s kennel, you can still end up with a happy animal once properly cared for.
Besides, knowing how to help your new pet's transition can be done with lots of socializations and maybe some homeopathic products, especially those which can be custom-made in cases of pet's with anxiety and depression. We’ve helped countless shelter animals adjust to a happy life in their new home through our products.
We made this article in the hopes of educating people about the flight of shelter pets and to inform them on the truth about homeless pets and animals. The statistics that A Forever Home Animal Rescue Senior volunteer Linda Rock shared says that 9 out of 10 dogs born can become homeless at one point in their life and that 99% of the 6 million cats and dogs euthanized yearly in the U.S. are healthy and adoptable. How can we let millions of perfectly loving animals be put to sleep when we can adopt?
We hope that we helped debunk some of the pet adoption myths you may have heard of and that you’re on your way to deciding about giving a homeless animal a second or maybe third lease in life.
Suzie Cyrenne co-founded Zumalka over five years ago, and has worked in naturopathic pet medicine for more than six. Day-to-day, she works as the lead manager for the Zumalka staff and specializes in training the team to have thorough knowledge of pet health and the company’s extensive line of naturopathic remedies.
Suzie has gained a lot of experience from years spent in the pet health field and she earned her degree in Homeopathy at the School of Classical Homeopathy in Quebec, Canada, (a partner of the European Academy of Natural Medicine (AEMN) in France).
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