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10 Myth-Busting Realities About Shelter Dogs

Mar 21 2014 - 7:00am

Without a home but not without hope, animals in shelters have to fight uphill battles based on all the myths about their situations. In honor of National Puppy Day [1] on March 23, we've come up with 10 common misconceptions about these pups and broken things down to the honest truth.

Myth: Dogs Are in Shelters Because They Were Not Good Pets

Reality: Don't assume all pets were banished to a shelter for some wrongdoing! With the high foreclosure and unemployment rates during the recession, there are plenty of pets in shelters because of an owner's unfortunately inescapable situation.

Myth: Shelter Dogs Have Irreparable Bonding and Socializing Issues.

Reality: While there are surely dogs that have suffered from neglect in the past, that's where you can come in! Serving as a loving forever home, you can offer bonus love and new friends plus even work with trainers to get that pooch back on the social track!

Myth: All Shelter Dogs Have a History of Abuse

Reality: Speak with shelter reps about the dog's past before making assumptions! Some dogs are in shelters because of breed or even color discrimination [2] or were the results of an unplanned matchup of un-"fixed" dogs.

Myth: Dogs Who Have Been Mistreated Are Spoiled Forever

Reality: Even many dogs seized from former fighting rings have been rehabbed and do not deserve that bad rap! While some abuse takes years of patience to overcome, don't judge a good pup by his bad owner — take the time to get to know the pet, and speak with a trainer before coming to your own conclusions.

Myth: Shelter Dogs Are Medical "Gambles"

Reality: They may not come with health guarantees like breeder pups, but that does not mean these pooches are all plagued with tons of issues. Most shelters take care of all the heartworm testing and flea and tick prevention already (and provide medical checkups first), making these pooches no riskier than dogs picked out at a pet shop.

Myth: Shelter Dogs Are There For a Good Reason

Reality: Just like a dog's presence in a shelter shouldn't make you jump to conclusions about his behavior, don't think of these pups as secondhand dogs . . . in a bad way. For example, remember people turn in pets because they "need exercise" and "bark," but they're really only barking because they're not getting that exercise!

Myth: There Are No Purebred Dogs

Reality: While shelters don't offer papers, there are abandoned or rescued pups that could surely be pedigree if you had their DNA tested.

Myth: Shelter Dogs Are All Off the Streets

Reality: Stray does not equal feral. There's a difference between a dog that got loose or was "let loose" and a pup that grew up on his own — if he made his way to a shelter, that's a good sign of his smarts right off the bat.

Myth: These Dogs Are Untrained

Reality: Don't be surprised if he's already sitting pretty! While puppies are often not potty trained no matter where you get them, many willing volunteers work to start behavioral training procedures from a young age at animal shelters.

Myth: All Dogs Are Big

Reality: When people think of shelters, many visualize only large, mangy dogs, but that's not always the case. There are still small dogs to be had if that's all your home can handle and even sizes in between. One thing's for sure: when you adopt an adult dog, you know what that cute fuzzball looks like grown up already!

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