Last week we explored the reasons why animals end up at shelters, so this week we are properly armed to debunk the myths that exist about shelter pets themselves.
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Myth 1: You don't know what you're getting
The real myth here is the idea that when you buy a puppy or acquire a pet whose lineage appears to be documented you somehow have a guarantee regarding their health, demeanor and personality. While it is true that one breed may exhibit certain characteristics over others, you are looking for an animal, not a whole breed. The individual animal is what matters most. It is important to look for a good fit for your family and lifestyle.
Because shelters and rescue groups are typically not operating to make a profit, they are freer to focus on assuring a long term fit for both the animal and the adopter. This, coupled with the fact that they have often had the animal in their care for a period of time, enables them to offer an informed and candid description of an animal’s history, health needs and personality.
Another point to keep in mind is that adult animals are a better bet when it comes to a known quantity for an adopter to assess. They have reached full size, and their temperament and personality is largely established.
Myth 2: Shelter animals have more behavior problems
Behavior problems are not seen more often in shelter animals than in those acquired by other means. And shelter animals can learn as well as
any of the competition -- in fact, many of them have already been trained by former owners.
Many behavior problems result from animals not being altered. Since most shelters require spay/neuter before adoption, that issue is taken care of for you.
Additionally, many behavior issues are caused by over-breeding within a breed or being weaned too young. Sadly, these practices are frequent among irresponsible breeders whose profit is based on turning around new litters quickly.
Myth 3: Shelter animals have more health problems
Also not so! And just FYI, most experts assert that mixed-breed animals are heartier and less susceptible to health issues due to the natural benefits of genetic diversity. One is apt to find many great mixed breeds and pure breeds alike at the shelters.
Oftentimes, animals purchased are too young to be vaccinated, or weaned before gaining the natural immune protection supplied in their mothers' milk. Shelters require vaccination prior to adoption and will typically not wean or separate a mother and her litter before it is physically and emotionally healthy to do so.
Myth 4: I can't find a purebred at the shelter
Wrong again! According to multiple empirical studies, 25% to 30% of animals entering shelters are purebreds. Many purebreds are sold unaltered and given as gifts that a recipient can't keep. Sadly, gifted pets and un-prevented litters often end up at ashelter. So if you have your heart set on a certain breed, ashelter or a breed-rescue group are great ways to get one. And what better way to show appreciation for a favorite breed than to save one? It's much cheaper, too!
You can search for a specific breed in Martha's Adoption Center
Myth 5: Shelters and rescues have cats and dogs only
Not so at all. Shelters are filled with all kinds of animals. You need not go anywhere else to acquire a best bud. City shelters house hamsters, guinea pigs, bunnies, reptiles, birds of all feathers, and even pigs, goats, horses, etc. And there are rescue groups for all categories and species of critters. You can search for other species of pets at AdoptaPet.com.
Ok friends, you are now equipped with the life saving facts! Ready to get out there and bust some myths?
Dr. Pia Salk