Between 6-8 million animals end up in shelters every year. Around half of these animals will not be adopted (many of these will be euthanized). Most pets end up in shelters through no fault of their own. The most common reasons for owner-surrendered pets are moving or landlord issues. Let’s take a closer look at the types of pets you can get through shelters and fosters and what to do when you’ve decided to adopt a shelter pet.
Types of Pets in Shelters
You can find a wide range of pets in various shelters across the U.S. and not just cats and dogs. Other types of shelter pets include small animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs and rats. Even horses and livestock can be found through shelters, rescues and fosters.
Did you know that approximately 25% of the pets in shelters are purebreds? This means if you are looking for a particular breed or mix, it’s possible to find it through a shelter and avoid “shopping” for a breed-specific pet. Breed-specific rescues always have puppies, dogs, kittens and cats available for adoption. In addition, pets from shelters (or fosters) are often “cheaper” than a purchased pet when you consider the costs of spay/neuter, deworming, vaccinations and microchipping. Plus you’ll avoid contributing to puppy mill operations.
Ready to Look for a Shelter Pet?
First, it’s important to do your homework and be honest with yourself about what is best for your family. For example, what type of pet is best for you and your family? Is it a dog or cat or possibly a small animal such as a guinea pig or rabbit? What allergies do the members of your family have? What kind of care and maintenance is required for the type of pet you’re considering? All of these questions are important things to consider when deciding on a shelter pet to adopt.
Next, visit the local shelters in your area. Also connect with local fosters and rescues as they often have pets available for adoption so they can rescue more animals. You can also use The Shelter Pet Project (https://theshelterpetproject.org/) as a resource for information about adopting from shelters and you can even search for adoptable animals near you. It’s important that you wait for the right pet. You want to make sure the pet you choose will be a good fit in your home and that you can meet their needs as well. For example, if you aren’t an outdoorsy, active family then you don’t want to choose a dog that needs a lot of exercise and outdoor time to run around. Don’t rule out older pets even if you have your heart set on a puppy or kitten. Older pets are just as loving and their temperaments are often more documented than a younger animal. You just might find “the one” in a senior dog or cat.
Finally, give your new pet time to adjust. It takes an average of about 3 days for a pet to decompress from the change in home/location, about 3 weeks to begin to learn your routine, and an average of 3-4 months to begin to feel “at home” in your home. Give them that time to adjust and begin to feel at home before you decide a pet isn’t a fit for you. You’d be surprised how much of a difference a few weeks can make.
Shelters are overflowing with pets that need loving homes just like yours. Consider adopting a shelter pet or adopting from a foster or rescue. You’ll know more about the personality of the pet you’re getting and you’ll avoid contributing to a puppy mill when you adopt and don’t shop.