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Why You Should Adopt a Pet

5 Common Myths About Adopting From a Shelter


By Cheryl Lock


The next time you’re in the market for a new pet and wondering where to buy a cat, dog, or other animal, try setting your sights on your local animal shelter. Despite any negative stereotypes animal shelters may have, they actually provide a ton of healthy, happy pet options for your family to take home and love.


Here are 5 things you may have heard in the past about shelter pets, and what the actual truth is.


Myth #1: Shelter pets aren’t healthy.

Truth: In fact, shelter pets can be quite healthy. Dr. Jules Benson is the VP of Veterinary Services at Petplan Pet Insurance. When he recently analyzed Petplan’s claims data he found something interesting: Contrary to popular opinion, the claims data revealed that pets adopted from shelters or rescue organizations are actually 5% less likely to suffer an unexpected trip to the veterinarian compared to pets purchased through pet stores.  In addition, many shelter pets are spayed and neutered, and some even come with location microchips.


Martha Smith-Blackmore, DVM — immediate past president of the Association of Shelter Veterinarians and interim president and director of Veterinary Medical Services for the Animal Rescue League of Boston — also stipulates that although there is much variety in animal shelters throughout the country, most good shelters almost always provide excellent vet care for their animals. “In well-run shelters,” Dr. Smith-Blackmore says, “animals receive vaccinations upon in-take, and are fed a high quality diet from a single manufacture so they don’t undergo dietary stress caused from a constantly changing variety of donated food on a daily basis.”


Myth #2: I won’t be able to find a pure breed at a shelter.

Truth: According to Dr. Benson, 25% of all dogs in shelters are purebreds.


Myth #3: Shelter pets are unruly.

Truth: Many shelter pets receive training and socialization before adoption to help make the transition to their new family easier, says Dr. Benson.


Myth #4: I won’t be able to properly get to know my pet from the shelter before I take her home.

Truth: Many shelters offer online pet profiles so that you can get to know the animals that are available before you even step foot in the shelter. “In addition, ” says Dr. Smith-Blackmore, “it’s always a good idea to schedule a ‘get-acquainted’ session with your prospective shelter pet and, if at all possible, have a list of questions you can ask the available shelter staff and the staff veterinarian.”


Myth #5: All the pets in a shelter will be older.

Truth: Shelters and rescues have pets of all ages, promises Dr. Benson, including puppies and older pets, which are usually trained and less initial work for the new pet owner and make excellent companions.


Something else to consider: The cute and appealing puppy in the window of that pet store came from somewhere, says Dr. Smith-Blackmore. “Unfortunately, more than likely, its birth mother spent the majority of her life in a very small cage having litter after litter. Adopting from a shelter or a well-known breeder can help to eliminate commercial puppy enterprises.”




At the end of the day, deciding where to get your brand new family member from is a big decision, but with the right information, it can be made a bit easier.


When you adopt a pet from the shelter, it is important to immediately establish a relationship with a veterinarian to care for that new addition to your family.  In fact, your pet needs to be examined at least yearly by a vet even if it appears healthy as many diseases are hidden and not apparent.  Remember, it is much cheaper to prevent disease than it is to treat it!


Explore More at petMD.com:


Ten Things to Consider Before Bringing a New Pet Home





Comments  2

Leave Comment
    04/12/2016 12:19pm

    Every pet I've ever had has been rescued or adopted from a shelter. Some have been purebred and some not. They have all been so special. I have loved every one of them. I still get sad thinking of the ones that have passed. Please adopt. You give them a loving home and they will give you so much more--unconditional love and loyalty for years to come.

  • adopt don't shop!
    04/12/2016 04:03pm

    yes, it's a slogan but so worth remembering. i have never, nor would i ever consider, purchasing a pet from a pet store. there is actually a case pending now in my area against the owner of a pet store chain, just pups, who has had a multitude of complaints filed against him, including animal cruelty, and has had 2 stores shut down in the past, with another just shut after 67 puppies were found in a van parked in back of the store in the cold, with temperature inside 38 degrees. and he's allowed to keep his other stores open! the vast majority of pets there, as the article states, are procured from 'pet mills' where not only the mom's are treated horribly, but the babies are prone to congenital health conditions. let's not even get into the 'backyard' breeders who know less than nothing about breeding or animal care. i can't say that this is what every pet store is about, but i think the majority are not much better. they aren't required to be. in fact, there are now i believe 25 or so cities in the us that only allow rescues to be sold in pet stores!

    animals are so resilient, even those taken out of hoarding and cruelty situations are able to love again. i volunteer with a shelter and a rescue organization, so i am quite aware of the procedures to match each pet with the right home. many shelters do include a pet id microchip along with vaccinations and spay/neuter.

    i am not completely against reputable breeders, only a little bit due to the immense pet overpopulation. i've heard people complain about the inconvenience and sometimes wait time when adopting from a shelter. i have to ask, do these people know anything about the commitment and 'inconvenience' a pet may cause at times? i had to take one of my boys to the er last week since he had apparently eaten something that may have caused a blockage in his digestive tract. turned out to be a false alarm i'm happy to say. not happy about the 'inconvenience' and expense, but wouldn't have it any other way.

    finally, if looking for a particular breed, there are rescues for nearly all breeds who will be happy to help their charges find a great home. where i live, there is even a registry at the local shelter to be notified if the breed you are interested in comes in!

    please don't support cruelty, neglect, pet overpopulation, and euthanasia. adopt, don't shop!

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