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According to the ASPCA 3.3 million dogs enter shelters every year and approximately 670,000 of those dogs are euthanized each year.  A study by American Pet Products Association (APPA) shows that only 23% of dogs are adopted through a rescue or a shelter while 34% are purchased from breeders.  There can be many reasons that more dogs are purchased through breeders than rescued and I believe a lot of it comes down to common misconceptions about shelter dogs.

You can’t find a purebred dog in a shelter.

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Again, this is so untrue!  There are many purebred dogs available through shelters and there is a rescue organization out there for just about every breed available.  If you have your heart set on a certain breed, then simply do a google search for that breed’s rescue group or call your local shelter and ask if they have the breed you are seeking in their shelter.

Only adult dogs are available in shelters.

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This is probably the biggest misconception that I hear and it is absolutely false.  Puppies are readily available in shelters and through rescues.  National Mill Dog Rescue has even had the occasional surprise litter born after mom was rescued from the puppy mill.  Lifeline Puppy Rescue in Brighton, Colorado specializes in puppies.

Shelter dogs are untrained.

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Many of the dogs you find in a shelter come from homes where they received training however, their owners were unable to keep them due to health issues, lifestyle changes, etc.  Many rescues and shelters work with their dogs on basic training as well.  Of course, the dog that you adopt may need some training but don’t let that scare you away.  All dogs can be trained!

It is difficult to adopt a dog from a shelter.

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I hear so many people say that the adoption process is too long and challenging.  Actually, the adoption process at many shelters is very streamlined.  Yes, you will have to complete an application but that usually doesn’t take too long.  In some cases you may be required to provide photos of your yard and your fence too.  There is a reason that shelters and rescues go through a thorough adoption process.  They truly want the dog you adopt to be a good fit and for them to be going to their forever home.  When we adopted Charley the application took us about 5 or 10 minutes to complete.  They asked us for photos of our back yard and fence to be sure that it was secure and we waited for less than a week before we were approved and able to pick up our “Wookie Boy”.

Dogs that come from shelters have difficulty bonding.

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 Again, many of these dogs came from loving homes and ended up in a shelter through no fault of their own.  It has been my experience that rescue dogs are very grateful to their new owners and bond very quickly.

Shelter dogs have health problems and if you buy from a breeder or a pet store you will get a healthy dog.

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This is so far from the truth it is laughable.  All dogs that come from rescues or shelters are examined by a veterinarian as well as spayed or neutered.  Reputable rescues ensure that their dogs are healthy before they are placed for adoption.  The humane society in my area also gives you a voucher for a vet exam when you adopt.  When you buy a puppy from a breeder or a pet store there is no guarantee that the dog you get is healthy.  In fact, if you are buying a puppy from a pet store that puppy is the product of a puppy mill and could have any number of things wrong.  Puppy mills operate for profit and not for the welfare of the animal.  You can learn more about puppy mills through Harley’s Dream and National Mill Dog Rescue.

Shelter dogs have behavior problems.

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Not all shelter dogs have behavior issues and if they do they are easily corrected with time and patience.  What may be perceived as a behavior issue may simply be the result of neglect.  A good example of this is the dog who was surrendered because it barked incessantly.  Well, it turns out that the dog was left alone a lot, never exercised and as a result became extremely bored.

Shelter dogs came from the streets.

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Not all shelter dogs are strays and even those that are found as strays most likely had a home at some point in their past.  The biggest fear here is that if the dog came off of the street then it is going to have costly health issues.  Again, reputable rescues and shelters give every dog a vet exam and make sure they are healthy when adopted.

If you adopt a shelter dog you won’t know their history.

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This is rarely true as many dogs that end up in shelters came from a known source (i.e. a home), some are surrendered by breeding facilities when they are no longer profitable and some are picked up as strays.  In any case, the shelter staff will work hard to get to know any dog whose history is unknown.

You can only find big dogs in shelters.

Adoption

There are plenty of small dogs available through rescues and shelters.  If you are looking for a smaller dog check your shelters and rescues first.  You can also look at sites like Petango and Petfinder to find your perfect match.