"Why don’t more people adopt rescue dogs?"
That’s the subject of a heated forum discussion. According to the pet professional who asked the question, less than 20% of pets in homes are from shelters. The answers range from personal experiences to broader perspectives given by commenters’ clients or, in one case, their radio show audience. Some of the reasons given:
• People don’t want surprises: They want to know what they’re getting in size, look, temperament. They also want to know the dog’s background and not get one with baggage. Which leads to…
• Shelter pets are “broken”: Rescue dogs have behavioral issues, may have been abused and have psychological problems, etc. Or they’re not as healthy as a dog from a breeder.
• Shelters charge too much: If they’re paying over $100 for a pet, they might as well go to a pet store.
• Shelters are too picky about adoptees: People want to adopt a rescue dog that day and not go through the sometimes-intense screening process.
• Shelters are overwhelming: There are too many dogs to see, it’s noisy and sad, and it’s very overwhelming. It’s difficult to make a decision when faced with that many options.
It's understandable that people might think these things, but they're simply not true.
Preditability vs. Surprises:
There are breed-specific rescues so you can still get your breed of choice and know what you’re getting. Even if the dog is a mix, you can look at its paw size to estimate size and spend time with it to understand its temperament. That reduces surprise, as does adopting an older dog who is fully grown.
Shelter pets are "broken":
Plenty of dogs are at shelters through no fault of their own and just want a family to love. Perhaps their owner lost their home and had to move into an apartment that didn’t allow dogs; maybe they changed jobs and no longer had the time or money for a dog. Whatever the reason, dogs from these types of situations are not “broken” as many people assume shelter dogs are. Yes, there are dogs that have come from abusive and other awful situations. But the shelter is not trying to trick anyone into getting a dog they aren't prepared for. It's frustrating for the adopter, it's not healthy for the dog, and it usually means the shelter will end up seeing that dog again.
Shelters charge too much/are too picky:
Shelters have to charge something to cover costs, but adoption fees often include spaying/neutering, a microchip for dogs, vaccines and a vet visit as part of the package. That’s a lot of bang for the buck and a great value. They have a formal selection process because they want to make sure that the rescue dog is going to a forever home and won’t end up back at the shelter. That’s reasonable and helps adopters know that they’re getting the right dog for them as well. It’s a process that benefits everyone involved.
Like most myths, the ones people use as reasons not to adopt rescue dogs are not true. There are dogs of every shape, size, age and temperament waiting for homes. Now, they just need someone to give them a chance.
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Photo of Jeffery from Blue Ridge Boxer Rescue. Photo credit: kakissel