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Pet Adoption Basics: 5 Myths About Shelters

Myth 1: All of the pets at animal shelters have something wrong with them.

A: Walk into any animal care center and you’ll likely find a variety of dogs from Chihuahuas to Labradors to Beagles. Sadly, many of these wonderful pets are relinquished to animal care centers through no fault of their own. One of the main reasons that animals are given up is because their owners are no longer able to provide proper care - - perhaps this is due to financial hardship, a move to a new home, illness or death of the owner, or a change in lifestyle. In all of these situations, the animal is relinquished for reasons unrelated to their health, temperament or behavior. Keep in mind that shelters will not adopt out animals with untreatable or serious behavioral issues.

Myth 2: Going to the shelter or pound is sad and an unpleasant experience.

A: We prefer the phrase ‘animal care center’ to define shelters in our communities. That’s because many municipalities or SPCAs have redefined animal sheltering with the public and animal’s comfort in mind. At your local animal care center, you’ll likely find staff and volunteers working together to rehabilitate sick or injured animals, hosting adoption events, or distributing humane education materials. Modern animal care centers are designed with bright, cheerful colors, many with grooming suites to increase a pet’s chance of adoption, and play yards used to train and socialize dogs.

One of the main reasons that animals are given up is because their owners are no longer able to provide proper care. In all of these situations, the animal is relinquished for reasons unrelated to their health, temperament or behavior. Shelters will not adopt out animals with untreatable or serious behavioral issues.

Myth 3: They only have cats and dogs.

A: Not so! Many animal care centers have rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, birds, turtles, snakes, and some centers even have farm animals available for adoption! If you’re looking for a companion other than a dog or cat, check your local adoption center, and search online on PetFinder.com or AdoptaPet.com. For the same reasons that dogs and cats end up in adoption centers, other companion animals do as well.

Myth 4: The people at the adoption center don’t know anything about the individual animals, so how can they help me find the right pet?

A: Most animal care centers have several methods of discovering the animal’s true personality and determining what type of home would be best. When people surrender their pets, the shelter staff takes the time to ask questions about the animal’s personality, behavior, and health. Staff and volunteers observe animals during their stay and often conduct formal behavior and health evaluations. And don’t forget to chat with volunteers! Often it’s the volunteers who have the chance to spend the most time with individual animals and can help match you up with your new best friend!

Myth 5: I really want a purebred, and I’ll never be able to find that at my local adoption center.

A: According to several studies, up to 25% of animals at shelters are purebreds. And owners of purebreds can experience the same hardships that cause them to give up their pets (financial, personal, medical, etc.), resulting in purebreds ending up at adoption centers. (And not just purebred dogs, but purebred cats, and exotic animals, too!)


The Michelson Found Animals Foundation's mission of saving pets and enriching lives is made possible by the generous contributions of Dr. Gary Michelson and Alya Michelson.

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