Rescue Dog Adoption:
Facts and Myths

Most people are aware that adopting a dog from a shelter is far more sensible than purchasing one from a breeder or pet shop. Unfortunately, not everyone takes this path and there is plenty of mis-information around. This article addresses the myths that surround animal adoption.

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For those involved in animal rescue, it is hard to understand how anyone could still purchase a dog from a breeder when so many puppies wait anxiously in shelters all over the world for a loving family. Do those who still purchase dogs from pet shops and private owners enable the backyard breeders and puppy mills who are exploiting animals for financial gain?. Some families believe that they are doing the right thing by buying a pet privately, and that animals from shelters are more prone to health problems and behavioural disorders. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth,

Shelter Dogs Can Be Aggressive Toward Other Dogs

This belief likely came about after a few people witnessed stressed, anxious, frustrated dogs that have spent months, or even years, in a small metal space watching people and other dogs come and go. Can you imagine what this kind of situation would do to a human’s psychology? The behaviour of an animal in a shelter is no indication of how that animal will behave when it is in a home environment, or how it will react to other dogs in the outside world.

Some dogs do react negatively to other dogs in the shelter when they pass by their cages, but this is more often due to frustration and jealousy. Ask to take the dog for a short walk to a nearby park, or if they have exercise grounds onsite, ask if you can see them interact with another dog outside. If you already own a dog and are worried how they will get along, call the shelter and arrange a play date. Most organisations are more than happy to arrange multiple meetings between your dog and a prospective newcomer, and will do whatever it takes to find their residents forever homes.

dog behind bars looking for human affection
Getting to know a rescue dog first will help smooth any negative impressions

Shelter Dogs Have Unpredictable Temperaments And Are Unsafe For Families With Children

Animal rescue charities are committed to finding safe, loving, and suitable homes for their animals, and are experienced at matching the right dog with the right family. Most animal shelters will have cards displayed outside each individual kennel with a brief explanation of the animal’s background, temperament, and suitability. If not, the shelter staff will have an in depth knowledge of the animal, and can advise you if the dog is right for your situation. It is also important to use logic when making your decision, so if you have a house full of lively, spirited young children, don’t even consider an elderly or nervous dog.

Nothing is worse for a shelter dog than finally getting rehomed, but then having to be returned to the shelter for reasons that could have been avoided. Ask to see any dogs that have previously lived with children. Many shelters require people to fill out information cards when they bring a dog in for adoption, so it is possible to ensure that the dog you choose will fit perfectly into your family.

Shelter Dogs Are More Likely To Contract Illnesses

This may be one of the most ridiculous reasons that people refrain from adopting a shelter dog. All animal shelters vaccinate, worm, and flea-treat their dogs upon arrival, and many have veterinarians working onsite to treat any symptoms or illnesses which may arise. A shelter will never give a dog for adoption with a known illness without first informing the owner of its full medical history, as they are aware that the owner will most likely return it once they find out. The same cannot be said for pet shops and breeders as they are selling the animal as a product, and do not offer a refund if the dog exhibits health problems later on.

Another more heart breaking reason that privately sold dogs are more likely to fall ill, is that many of the puppies come from puppy farms. This illegal and inhumane practice involves keeping female dogs in tiny wire cages or wooden boxes, and continuously impregnating them with little or no break in between pregnancies. They are kept in horrifying conditions, starved, beaten, and often succumb to sickness and exhaustion. The puppies they produce will most likely exhibit physical and mental health problems later on as a result of inbreeding, or stemming from their mother’s poor health during pregnancy. Animal shelters perform a full examination of a dog’s health upon admission, and if the dogs have been rescued from the street they are most likely mongrels who are generally healthier than the pure breeds.

Only Dogs Purchased From Licensed Breeders Are Pedigree

Take a walk through an animal shelter and you will quickly see that this statement is completely untrue. Every breed of dog imaginable is waiting patiently for a new family to whisk them away to a loving home. Labradors, Chihuahuas, Dalmatians, Rottweiler’s, Mastiffs, Spaniels, and many, many more breeds are left at shelters every day across the globe, and some even have their pedigree papers still with them. If it is important that you obtain papers with your dog, ask the shelter staff which dogs are pure breed.

Most pedigree dogs will be micro-chipped so it is possible to contact the Kennel Club and quote a registered dog’s microchip number to order a replacement certificate. If you do not plan to breed the dog, and you don’t intend to sell it on, there is really no need for a certificate, and a dog’s temperament and personality is much more important than the paperwork that came with it.

Hopefully in the future it will become illegal to breed dogs solely for money, and that strict laws will be implemented to protect them from unscrupulous breeders. Until then, the best we can do is to educate each other on the horrors of puppy farms, and the joys of adopting from animal rescue shelters. Thousands of sweet, gentle, and loving animals spend their nights sad and alone through no fault of their own. All of them desperately want a stable home of their own, and would be immensely grateful for the chance to become a member of a loving family. Do not forget about those forgotten souls fading away in sterile metal cages. Everyone deserves a second chance in life, so make a rule to always adopt your pets from a rescue shelter.