Monday, August 12, 2013

Shelter Pets: Myth vs Fact

A recent survey found that young adults are the least likely to consider a shelter pet for adoption (31%) vs buying animals from a breeder or pet store (46%). At HSEC, we are dedicated to combating the myths and misconceptions that cause this alarming statistic. Please help us get the word out by sharing this article among your friends!

MYTH: Shelter animals remain in the shelter until they are adopted.

FALSE. There are many no-kill facilities, including HSEC. But they are the exception rather than the rule. Nine thousand animals are euthanized every day in America. In Pitt County, 2600 pets are euthanized every year. We have a serious pet overpopulation problem in this country. When you purchase an animal from a pet store, you are contributing to the problem.

MYTH: Only bad or dangerous animals are surrendered to shelters.

FALSE: In examining the statistics, behavioral problems are responsible for less than 5% of animal surrenders. The most common reasons for surrender are logistic. Moving and landlords not allowing pets are numbers 1 and 2, making up a combined 13% of dogs and 14% of cats. Other common issues cited included cost, allergies, personal problems of the owner, and no homes available for littermates.

This means that animals are largely not surrendered because they are bad or dangerous, and most did nothing to cause their abandonment.

MYTH: Only bad, sick, or dangerous animals are euthanized.

FALSE. 6-8 million pets enter shelters each year, and 3-4 million are euthanized - around 50%. In Pitt County, 68% of animals that enter Pitt County Animal Shelter are euthanized.

The vast majority of dogs and cats are euthanized simply because they do not have homes, not because of any underlying behavioral or medical problems.

MYTH: Shelter pets are second-rate.

FALSE. The reasons why animals are surrendered to shelters are largely unrelated to their temperament and behavior. It's true that some rescue pets may need special care and attention due to traumatic events in their past. This is hardly the case for all or even most animals that end up in shelters. If you are concerned, ask the shelter or rescue staff to help you choose a pet that best suits your family's needs.

MYTH: Shelter pets are all mutts.

FALSE. Around 25% of homeless pets are purebred. There are even rescue groups that focus specifically on animals of a certain breed. If you want a particular breed, you can find it in a shelter or rescue group. It may not have the same instant gratification of purchasing an animal from a pet store, but you may literally be saving a life.

MYTH: Pet store pets are guaranteed to be healthy and well-behaved.

FALSE. There are reputable breeders who treat animals well and produce healthy pets from healthy parents. But they are the exception. Around 90% of pets in pet stores come from puppy mills. These operations keep their stock contained in tiny, crowded, dirty cages. Animals receive little veterinary care, and once they have passed their useful breeding life, they are simply euthanized or discarded. Young animals are removed from their mothers too early, causing the same health and behavioral problems that people try to avoid by choosing purebreds.

For most people, their dogs and cats are a part of their family. We claim to love our animals, but we allow millions of unlucky animals just like them to be euthanized every year. So for your next pet, don't shop - adopt. Educate yourself about the reality of homeless animals in this country, and share this information with your friends and family. If we could solve this issue, we could save taxpayers two billion dollars a year as well as saving billions of innocent lives.

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