Myths about Shelters Debunked

If you are interested in getting a new dog, dogs in shelters could really use a hand.  Whether they were found running loose or were surrendered by their owners, most dogs are a bit overwhelmed by being in a shelter.  In a kill shelter, they can be euthanized after only 72 hours.  In a no kill shelter, they may languish in a run for not days, but sometimes years, before they find a home.

Shelters do the best they can to take good care of the dogs they have and to find them good homes.  This is made harder by myths people believe about shelters.  Here are six myths about shelters.

  1. Shelters are affiliated through some umbrella organization like the ASPCA or HSUS.  This is false.  Most shelters and rescues are run through grants, donations, and volunteers.  Unless they are a county shelter or a city shelter, they barely lurch along with minimal money.  County and city shelters do not provide much funding, so they cannot provide a wide range of services, such as treating sick or injured dogs that are found.
  2. All shelter dogs are old.  Most shelter dogs are under one year old.  In fact, many of them are puppies.  You can also find young adults, older adults, and elderly pets.  All age ranges are represented.
  3. Shelter workers do not know enough about dogs.  This is false.  Many volunteers are veterinary technicians, veterinarians, and other people who have a good grasp on the psychology and behavior of dogs.  They can tell you what a given dog likes, is afraid of, has been trained to do, and what food they prefer.  Listen to them and they will help you choose a dog that suits you.
  4. Shelters do not have any purebreds up for adoption.  This is false.  Twenty-five percent of dogs in shelters are purebreds.  The owners decided not to keep them and drop them off at the shelter.  There are also very reputable rescue groups that specialize in rescuing pure breds from the shelter and finding them a home.  You can find a rescue group for most pure bred dogs if you go to the American Kennel Club’s breed rescue pages.  Even pure bred rescue cannot save them all, so it is perfectly possible to find a pure bred dog at your local pound.
  5. Shelter pets are dirty and ungroomed.  This is false.  Most shelters give new dogs a bath and groom them to the best of their ability.  Many times groomers will volunteer to groom incoming dogs so that they look nice and potential adopters can see them, not the grime of the streets.
  6. Adoption fees are too much.  This is false.  Most shelters adopt out pets at a loss.  They feed, house, groom, and love the dogs that come in.  Many are given their shots and spayed or neutered.  Their temperaments are tested for problems and potential owners are made aware of any problems that need to be worked on.  The amount of money shelters put into a given dog far exceeds the adoption fees.

Shelters do their best with the funds and time they have.  They are a good resource to check if you are thinking of adopting a dog.