Every year, millions of dogs and cats in the U.S. are relinquished by their owners or found abandoned on the streets. Worse, some 3 million are euthanized. One reason: low adoption rates—a problem often exacerbated by wrong assumptions.
If you or someone you know are planning to get a dog (or cat), why not adopt one? Consider six misguided myths about rescue dogs:
1. Rescue dogs have behavioral issues. Rescue dogs can come from homes where they were abused, neglected, or abandoned. And some may have behavioral issues. On the whole, however, they are wonderful animals just longing for a loving forever home. For many, their human families had cherished and cared for them. But due to unfortunate circumstances, such as illness, financial difficulties, or the loss of a home, they were forced to relinquish them.
2. Rescue dogs aren’t purebreds. An estimated 25% of rescue dogs are purebreds. (Some even have papered pedigrees.) And if your heart is set on a specific breed, there are breed-specific rescue groups who can assist your search. Be persistent but patient.
3. Rescue dogs are adults, not puppies. Rest assured that shelters regularly have puppies, sometimes even large litters of them. Do your homework, though. Puppies may be adorable, but they’re not right for every lifestyle or household. Understand the extra energy and effort a puppy will require.
4. Rescue dogs have many opportunities to be adopted. In high-kill shelters, a dog usually has only seven days to be adopted. And nearly all shelters operate with tight facilities and even tighter budgets and staffs. The reality is they can’t, and don’t, save every dog.
5. Rescue dogs aren’t healthy. Rescue dogs are routinely examined by veterinarians, spayed or neutered, and vaccinated. Also, shelters are upfront about dogs’ specific health issues or concerns, and stand behind them after adoption. Puppy mills and so-called backyard breeders aren’t nearly as diligent.
6. Rescue dogs need more training. All dogs, regardless of their age, breed, or life experience, need training to coexist with their humans. Many rescue dogs go through some training, whether in their previous homes or foster homes, or at their shelters with volunteers or professional trainers. They are also evaluated for temperament and activity level in order to be matched with the right forever home.
When you adopt a dog, you save a life, and bring love and joy into your own. Help debunk these myths—and do it!
Dobie Houson is an animal communicator and author of the forthcoming book Four-Legged Wisdom (2014) and Finding Forever (2011). She is founder and executive director of Finding Forever, a foundation dedicated to raising money and awareness for animal rescue efforts. For more information, visit findingforever.org.