Are you considering adding to your dog family? Shelter dogs can be a great addition to your household (and a very economic one. Adoption fees are just a fraction of a breeder’s purchase price and often include shots and spaying/neutering.)
Many potential dog parents have some misconceptions about shelter dogs, however, including:
- All shelter dogs are mixed breeds. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) estimates that about one-fourth of the dogs in shelters are purebreds.
- Most shelter dogs are older dogs. There are many wonderful older dogs in shelters…and many wonderful younger dogs (including puppies), too. Sadly, there’s no shortage of any age. No matter what age of dog you’ve got your heart set on, you’ll find it!
- Shelter dogs were stray dogs. Some shelter dogs were strays picked up by animal control. Many, however, arrive at the shelters for a variety of other reasons. Owners surrender dogs every day because of a new baby, a move to a new apartment, a death in the family, or economic circumstances (an all-too-common occurrence right now.) This means that dogs are accustomed to family living and you very well might get lucky and get a dog that’s already house-trained and obedience trained, at least in the basics.
- Shelter dogs have behavioral problems. Sure, some shelter dogs have some behavioral issues…but that can hold true for a dog from a breeder or store as well. Talk with the shelter employees; many are trained in evaluating dog behavior and will have an idea of how a dog will fit in with your family. Also, remember if problems do arise, they can be solved with patience and work. Just as you wouldn’t expect to bring home a baby that never makes a mistake around the house, your new dog will have a few slip ups, too. If you need help, talk with local trainers for an evaluation.
- If they don’t get adopted, they’ll be put to sleep. Can’t handle visiting a shelter because you feel like if you don’t take home a dog that day, they’ll be put to sleep? A growing number of shelters are now no-kill shelters which means dogs remain until they are adopted. You can visit with the dog and go back and visit him again on another day, if you like. When you do adopt a dog from a no-kill shelter, you’ll be freeing up a space so they’re able to bring in another dog whose fate might be uncertain. Many no-kill shelters take in animals from high-kill shelters whenever space allows…so your adoption means you’re still helping dogs in high-risk situations!
Bringing home a shelter dog can be a life-changing experience both for you and your new dog thanks to the immeasurable appreciation and love you’ll receive!