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

When you’re 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. 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, but first, 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 there are some dogs that 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 properly care for the dog.

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 and they require special care. The first thing you’ll have to do if you get a puppy is to 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 who is 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 little patience, training, and consistency, your new dog will obey your commands in no time. In fact, many shelter dogs are already trained in basic obedience, so you could start off 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 also less likely to suffer from the various genetic defects purebreds are prone to.

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

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

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