A dog in a cage waits to be adopted from a shelter.

The love of a dog is like no other. Deciding to get a dog is a big one, but you’ll be countlessly rewarded every single day you get to spend with your pup. However, the most significant decision is deciding where to get your dog.

When getting a dog, you should always consider checking out your local animal shelters to adopt your newest family member. Every year, 3.9 million dogs enter animal shelters, and about 1.2 million of those dogs are euthanized because they haven’t been adopted.

There are tons of lovable, adoptable dogs waiting to go home with you right now. But many people brush off shelter dogs because there are too many unfortunate misconceptions about them. With your help, we can increase shelter adoption numbers.

A family meets a dog with the hopes of adding it to their family. Learn the misconceptions about rescue dogs and how you can help shelters.

Let’s Correct These Misconceptions

Misconception #1: Shelter dogs are damaged goods

This is the saddest misconception about shelter dogs because it is largely untrue.

While some dogs end up in shelters due to health or behavioral issues, many of them are given up because their previous human got sick, had to move, passed away, or was simply unable to care for the dog properly.

There are amazing dogs in shelters who are ready to meet you and show you just how lovable they are.

Misconception #2: I can’t rescue a dog because I want a puppy

There are plenty of puppies available in shelters. The average age of an animal entering a shelter is 18 months, which is practically still a puppy. Keep in mind that puppies aren’t puppies forever, requiring special care. The first thing you’ll have to do if you get a puppy is deal with housebreaking.

Puppies are a lot of work, which is exactly why dogs are often surrendered to shelters before their second birthday. You could easily get a wonderful adult or senior dog at a shelter already trained and ready to go. In fact, for many first-time Pack Leaders, this is a good choice.

Misconception #3: Shelter dogs won’t be loyal or obedient to me

This misconception is just silly. All dogs are loyal. If you bring a dog home and show him unconditional love, you’ll have a faithful companion for life.

As for obedience, with a bit of patience, training, and consistency, your new dog will obey your commands in no time. Many shelter dogs are already trained in basic obedience so that you can start ahead of the curve.

Misconception #4: Rescuing dogs is nice… but I want a purebred dog

Shelters have purebred dogs, so you can’t use that as an excuse! But what about considering a unique, one-of-a-kind mutt or mixed-breed dog? It will be a dog unlike any other and less likely to suffer from the various genetic defects that purebreds are prone to.

You should keep your mind wide open to all of the dog possibilities. You want to make sure you and your dog are compatible when it comes down to it. If you’re only looking for one specific type of dog, you could miss out on another awesome dog.

Misconception #5: I will never love a rescue dog like I love the dog I’ve had since he was a puppy

Of course, you can love a rescue dog! And you will. Once the dog is yours and you bring her home with you, it won’t matter where or how you got it, and you will love her with all of your heart. As long as you give your new best friend plenty of love, cuddles, and treats — after exercise and discipline, of course — your dog will love you back with all of her heart too.

Getting a dog is a big responsibility, but since you’re going to do it anyway, why not adopt a shelter dog and save a furry life in the process? There are millions of shelter dogs patiently wagging their tails right now, just waiting for you to rescue them and take them to their forever home.

Misconception #6: Shelters are dirty, so the dogs must be

Shelters are often a non-profit organization that heavily relies on their volunteers to help run the facility and keep it clean. Whenever you have a big group of animals together in one space, there are bound to be messes. Even if the shelter has limited resources, they provide a clean and safe place for dogs to call home temporarily.

Some pups indeed come to the shelter dirt, unkempt and needing some attention. With a bit of time, effort, and grooming, the four-legged friend is transformed into an adorable pet anyone would be lucky to have. Does your local shelter look dirty and need maintenance repairs? The appearance is most likely because they don’t have enough volunteers. Why not donate some of your time and talent to make things better?

Misconception #7: A shelter won’t allow me to get to know the dog before adopting

The end goal of shelters is to match a dog that will blend in with the family. Volunteers desire for there to be compatibility between the rescue dog and the family who plan to adopt. Many shelters require a certain amount of time spent with the dog before the adoption is official. Ask your local shelter if they offer a fostering program that allows you to take a dog home as part of a trial period to ensure it’s a good fit for everyone.

A team of shelter volunteeers and play and snuggle with dogs who are searching for their forever family. Rescue dogs are looking for loving homes.

Misconception #8: The shelter staff are untrained and unprofessional

Being a lover of animals is a number one requirement to work at a rescue shelter, and most times, the paid staff are compensated so little for all their hard work and dedication to our four-legged friends.

The staff comprises vets, vet techs, trainers, and others who have a deep passion for the welfare of animals. They all have a general knowledge of animals and how to care for them, and their desire is the best possible outcome for both the pup and the potential adopted family.

Misconception #9 The adoption fees for a shelter dog are too expensive

It’s common for people to assume that shelters should be willing to give away all their rescue dogs for free, but the money you give is well spent and can be thousands of dollars cheaper than if you went directly to a breeder. These fees include services that the shelter has provided the pup, such as vaccinations, a microchip, spay/neuter surgery, flea and tick preventative, and many other benefits. The fee does not always include these medical services when you buy through a breeder.

Adoption fees also serve other essential services. One main benefit is that the money collected from adoptions helps keep the shelter open to rescue more animals. Another added benefit to charging is it prevents people from getting dogs for fighting or flipping.

Check Out a Local Rescue Shelter

Instead of listening to these misconceptions, make a date to check out your local shelter. Meet the volunteers and staff, and see what animals seek a forever home. You never know, you could meet the newest member of your family.

Is your dog a rescue? Tell us your love story.

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