A great many of us came by our beloved pet by adopting them from a rehoming shelter, and this is a great way to give an animal in need a new home while also potentially saving a lot of cash on the purchase price of a pet. Pet rehoming shelters are all voluntary and/or charity organisations that receive no government funding or formal support for their work, and there is a never-ending supply of cats and dogs coming through the doors at all times; the work of the shelter is truly never done.
While most of us support the work of shelters and donate or help out in practical ways when we can, many people are slightly wary of adopting from a shelter, for a whole range of reasons, not all of which are valid. In this article we will debunk five of the common myths and misconceptions about rescue and rehoming centres.
Cat and dog rehoming centres tend to have a lot of adult animals for rehoming, with the term “adult” referring to cats and dogs over the age of one. They will also commonly have a significant number of mature pets too, ranging in age from two to old age.
Part of the reason for this is that older pets are rather harder to rehome, and so once an older animal comes in, they will likely be waiting a while for a new forever home.
However, not all pets in rehoming shelters will be older; they also generally have a range of kittens and puppies too, and the amount of these will tend to peak a couple of times a year at times when breeding is more common. Puppies and kittens tend to be rehomed much faster than older pets, but if you speak to a local shelter, they will be able to let you know the next time they have a litter available. It is also worth thinking about your reasons for wanting a kitten or puppy, and considering getting an adolescent or older pet too!
Most cats and dogs that end up in rehoming centres are mixed breeds, or potentially purebred but without the accompanying paperwork. However, this is not a firm rule, and around 25% of all pets in rehoming shelters will be pedigree with papers, or clearly purebred or very close to it, but without accompanying paperwork.
Many rehoming shelters also work closely with bred-specific rescue organisations, and so they may also be able to put you in touch with an organisation that can help you to adopt a pet of a specific breed. If your local shelter manages to help you out in this way, a small donation is a nice way of showing your appreciation!
Sometimes, dogs (and cats) may be given up to a shelter because they have behavioural problems, or the natural behaviour of the pet in question turned out to be more than the first owners were prepared for. However, this is by no means always the case; pets are surrendered to rehoming shelters for all manner of reasons, and it is by no means a given that any pet there will have problems.
Even for pets that come into the shelter with issues, shelter staff work hard to rehabilitate them and address their problem behaviours, in order to make them easier to adopt. Behavioural problems is also a fairly catch-all title, and does not necessarily indicate aggression or unruliness; sometimes, pets in shelters may simply be very nervous, or just never received any basic training.
It is also worth noting that many pets do not thrive within a shelter environment, so don’t be put off by the fact that you will probably not be seeing each animal at their very best!
Some pets come into shelters with a very sketchy history, particularly if they were found by a member of the public and no information on their prior life can be found. Even so, this is not a solid reason to rule out adoption; shelters will perform a range of health tests on the pet, vaccinate them, neuter them if needs be, and work hard to find out if they have any problems, which will then be fully disclosed to potential adopters.
Many pets in rehoming centres also have a full documented history of their prior life, which again, will be made available to potential adopters.
If you have an image in your head of a dark, dirty row of unkempt cages filled with flea-infested, mangy looking pets, the chances are you have been watching too much TV! While not all rehoming centres have brand new state of the art buildings, they do all almost exclusively tend to be very clean, well maintained, and perfectly cared for.
Some pets that come into shelters may be flea-ridden or in very poor condition when they arrive, but one of the first things that happens to such pets is that they are bathed, groomed, and treated for any medical conditions.
Rethink your local shelter; go and take a look!