Sunday, December 2, 2012

Shelter Myths

A myth is defined as a fictional story.  Many myths exist regarding “shelter animals”.  These fallacies about the countless animals that have the dreadful misfortune of ending up at a shelter do them a grave disservice.  These pets deserve much better than the misrepresentations surrounding them.

Perhaps the largest misconception is shelter animals are not good pets, nor could they ever be.  The myth is that, if they were good, their previous owners would not be so eager to rid themselves of them.  The fact is that the only thing wrong with most of these poor creatures is to have an abundance of bad luck.  The majority of these pets were relinquished because of their owners' problems and flaws, not because of their own.

There are myriad reasons and excuses as to why an animal ends up in a shelter situation.  Too often, the list of reasons given by people for surrendering an animal is as follows: we are moving; we are having a baby; I am allergic; I cannot afford it and I do not have the time.  An abundance of unwanted puppies and kittens result from owners who do not have the forethought to spay or neuter their existing pets.  Or worse yet, pet owners plan to breed to make an extra dollar or two and find it is not necessarily as rewarding as believed and end up with animals they never had an intention of keeping.  Some believe their children must see the miracle of birth, not considering what would happen with the resulting animal.  There are those owners who pass away and fail to make the necessary provisions in their will for their surviving pets.  A favorite pet can become lost but, without collar, tags, and microchip, reuniting it may be close to impossible.  Finally yet importantly, a vast number of those who arrive within a shelter might be considered fortunate, because they have been the ones removed from abusive cruelty situations.  The bottom line is because of those people who did not fully understand or care about the implications of responsible pet ownership a steady unrelenting flow of animals enter the shelter system.

Another myth believed is the idea that shelter animals are sickly damaged goods.  While it is true many come in less than perfect condition, most times it is a direct result of neglect.  Often times a good bath, the basics of a decent meal and water, affection, and treatment for fleas and ticks  are the only items many of these animals require.  There are those that require more such as repair of injuries suffered at either the hands of abusive owners or from being a stray in hostile territory.   

However, whenever an animal arrives at our own animal care center, it receives an exam and evaluation.  In addition, a regime of vaccinations is started and medical conditions noted are dealt with.  The center cannot guarantee the long-term health of any animal adopted, however, neither can pet stores or breeders.  Unfortunately there is not a person alive who can see into the future.  While it is possible that an adopted animal can have medical issues, most are quite healthy and require nothing more than a stable home and caring environment. 

The same goes for behavior problems.  Shelters do not see behavior issues with animals any more often than animals acquired by any other means.  Remember this; when pets are bought from anyone trying to make a profit, what is said may not necessarily be in the best interest either for you or for the animal being purchased.  Shelters will typically give you all the facts they know honestly.  If they do not, then they also realize the animal will come back, something they definitely strive to avoid.

The idea that those animals that come from abusive areas are permanently traumatized is equally false.  Many can, and do, make a full recovery.  With patience and care, it has been shown that they become loyal, devoted companions.  When doubting this fact, familiarize yourself with the story of the Michael Vick fighting dogs.  Recovery is very possible.

While most dogs found at the shelter are in fact mixed breeds, many of them are not.  The myth that all shelter dogs are mutts is a huge falsehood.  According to co-founder Betsy Saul, approximately 25 percent of adoptable animals in shelters are purebred.  It may take longer to find that pure breed you have every desire of acquiring, but they can be found at either your local shelter or at one of the hundreds of rescue organizations devoted to specific breeds throughout the country.

If you dispel the myths surrounding shelter animals,  you might find that shelters can be a wonderful place to find a new forever pet.


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