12 Little-Known Facts About Shelter Pets

Monday, January 13, 2014
Learn something new about cats and dogs in shelters

Think you know all about pets in shelters? Some of these stories might surprise you.

1. Shelter pets are not damaged.

Shelter pets are often family pets who have arrived at the shelter through no fault of their own. Life circumstances leave their families unable to continue caring for them. People often drop off their happy pet at the shelter, trusting that he’ll find a home fast because everyone will see the wonderful pet they know and love.

foster a dog2. Many shelters are modern, welcoming places to find your new furry friend.

Today’s shelters are often updated, bright and inviting. They also have spaces where you can spend time with a pet before you decide to adopt her.

3. If you can’t adopt, you can save lives by volunteering to be a foster parent.

Some pets need medicine, time away from the shelter or a low-key place to recover from surgery. Fostering one of these pets saves lives. It makes more space in the shelter for other pets who can be adopted. You’ll be keeping the pet safe in your home until he’s ready for adoption, and it’s a great way for first-timers to try pet parenting. Everybody wins!

4. Shelter pets are healthy and normal!

Before being put up for adoption, most pets in shelters are given a complete medical exam, plus vaccinations and any necessary treatment. They have a clean bill of health before you even meet them. If you adopt a pet with a special condition, shelter staff will help you understand how to best care for your pet at home. Qualified shelter staff perform behavior assessments, too, so you can be sure your pet is safe and ready for a happy home.

5. Not all shelter pets find homes.

Of the estimated 8 million pets who enter U.S. shelters every year, only half of them will make it out. The other 4 million are euthanized for medical or behavioral reasons or to make space for even more homeless pets.

6. You can find purebred pets in shelters.

Think you can’t find the purebred cat or dog you want in a shelter? Think again…there are plenty of them! As many as 25% of pets in shelters are purebreds.

7. Choosing to adopt is choosing to save a shelter pet’s life.

Adoption is the easiest, quickest way for a pet to leave a shelter. If your options are choosing to adopt — and save a life — and choosing not to adopt, why wouldn’t you welcome a shelter pet into your home? You can make a difference by adopting a pet.

8. Your spare room is valuable living space. If you have a spare bathroom or a guest room, you have a great temporary place for 1 or 2 (or perhaps a litter) of kittens or puppies to grow strong. Mothers with babies need a place to stay until the babies are old enough to be vaccinated. In a few weeks, they go from being almost certainly euthanized to the most adoptable pets in the shelter. It’s a short-term commitment, but it saves an entire family, and helps the shelter in so many other ways.

woman with cat9. Kittens and puppies make fine pets, but an adult pet may be better for you.

An older pet — even 3 years old — has worked out their kitten/puppy behavior, revealing their true personality. Your lifestyle could be better suited to an adult cat or dog than a young pet.

10. Senior pets make wonderful companions!

They’re more experienced and super-appreciative of a soft place to rest. Senior pets, approximately ages 8 to 14, can bring all the joys of adopting a pet without much of the fuss. A senior pet can have all the personality of a young pet, but will be happy to spend time on your lap or hang out with you while you work.


11. The way a pet behaves in a shelter might be different from how he’ll act in a home.

Often, a pet will calm down with a family, and especially in a home. At a shelter, pets’ senses are bombarded with new sights, sounds, smells and visitors every day. That can make their behavior a bit different than what you might observe at home. To learn more about a pet, read their profile and talk to staff and volunteers. Maybe you could even take the pet home for a few days — some shelters offer short-term foster or foster-to-adopt options, or have a satisfaction-guaranteed policy in case things don’t work out as planned.

12. Staff at shelters want to help make a good match — and set you up for success.

Many shelters provide post-adoption support. Make sure to ask about the group’s return policy and any extras, like training help or recommendations, a hotline you can call if you have questions, a follow-up veterinary exam, or coupons for supplies or pet insurance.

Share this article to help spread the word about pets in shelters! 


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