Nationwide, only about 15 percent of cats and dogs in loving homes were adopted from animal shelters. This can be hard to believe if you've ever been lucky enough to share your life with a wonderful graduate of a shelter or rescue group. Below we've dispelled some common myths about shelter animals, letting you in on the great benefits of the adoption option.
"You can't find puppies and kittens in shelters."
Definitely a myth! You can find puppies and kittens of all breed types, colors and sizes in shelters. In 2006, nearly 1,000 puppies and kittens were cared for in PAWS' Foster Care Program alone. Spring and summer are when you will find the most kittens in shelters, and puppies come in year round. Because puppies and kittens are very popular, you may need to visit a few different shelters at different times to find just the kind of pet you are looking for. But it will be well worth the effort knowing you saved a life.
"Shelter animals always have health and behavior problems."
Also a myth. Animals end up in shelters for various reasons: the landlord won't allow pets, the guardians don't have time anymore, a family member developed allergies. These dogs and cats often are already housetrained, know basic obedience, and many are known to be good with children and other pets. Many strays who come to shelters have obviously been well-cared for and loved, but somehow got separated from their families. Like all companion animals, they crave good care, affection, and a place to call home.
"There are no purebreds in shelters and if I pay more for a pet, I know I'm getting a better value."
Would you be surprised to learn that 25 percent of animals in shelters are purebred? Someone else paid a high price for them, but couldn't make the lifetime commitment. If you adopt an animal from a shelter you will get much more for your money than you would from a breeder. For the adoption fee at PAWS—far lower than breeder prices—each dog and cat is spayed or neutered, receives initial vaccinations, a free health exam, a microchip with national registration, a collar and leash or carrier, and more. You can also adopt from breed-specific rescue groups, which can be found on Petfinder.com.
"I wouldn't know the animal's history. I want my pet to come with papers."
Shelter animals come with plenty of papers! When someone brings an animal to PAWS for re-homing, we gather as much information as possible about the animal's past. We request previous vet records and ask in-depth questions about the animal's likes, dislikes and behaviors. All this information is used by our expert adoption counselors to make great matches between every animal and his or her new family. While an animal is in our care, we keep records of all medical diagnoses and treatment, as well as notes on behavior and personality traits observed by volunteers and staff. Some who give up their purebred animals to PAWS also give us the pedigree registration papers to pass on to the new guardians.
"Animals in pet stores need homes, too."
Yes, they do. However, if pet stores continue to make a profit selling animals, they keep supporting the horrific institutions that most pet store puppies and kittens come from: places that mass-breed puppies and kittens with little or no regard for their health or emotional well-being. Responsible breeders never sell to a "middle man," not knowing where their animals may end up. They also interview potential guardians, and make a commitment to take back the pet at anytime during the animal's life, no matter the reason. Of course, many rescue groups and shelters host adoption events at pet supply stores—check out the schedule of events at your favorite store.
Visit PAWS or your local shelter today. We guarantee you'll be pleasantly surprised at who you find there.