10 Facts You Might Not Know About Your Local Animal Shelter

Are you a sucker for a cute puppy dog face, or that of an adorable kitten? Who isn’t? There’s a reason that so many households in the United States also include a cat or dog, as they are loyal and faithful companions that bring joy to your life.

With April 30 being National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day, this is the perfect opportunity to give these fur babies the love and attention they deserve. If you’ve wanted a pet, but haven’t yet taken the plunge, there’s no better day than this.

Here’s a look at 10 facts you might not know about your local animal shelter, which could be all you need to go in and pick your animal companion.

There are Millions of Animals in Shelters

Young woman choosing which dog to adopt from a shelter.
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In case you don’t realize just how dire the situation is for dogs and cats without a home, there are roughly six million in shelters yearly – and that’s only a small fraction of the tens of millions of strays. People don’t often realize how many animals need a home, and while it may not seem like a big deal to just adopt one – every adoption helps.

Not Every Shelter is a No Kill Facility

Five kittens in a cage at the animal shelter
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It’s not pleasant to think about or talk about, but another fact about shelters is that not all are designated as no-kill shelters. It is estimated that about 920,000 shelter animals end up being euthanized yearly. Of that number, more than half are cats.

That number is much higher than anyone wants to see, but the good news is that it has declined in the past decade. This is likely due to the increase in adoptions. Adopting a cat or dog from a shelter frees up the space for another animal in need.

You Will Find Animals of All Ages

Young adult man adopting adorable dog in animal shelter.
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People often believe the myth that only older animals are surrendered to shelters, but that’s not the case either. Shelters are home to babies, adults, and seniors. This means people can find a companion in any life stage allowing them to pick what’s right for their lifestyle.

Some may prefer to adopt a kitten or puppy so they can take charge of the training and enjoy the young age, whereas others prefer a pet that is already trained and housebroken.

Some of the Animals in Shelters Are Lost Pets

The lost dog is holding a leash and waiting for the owner.
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You’ve probably come across a lost cat or dog poster at least once in your life, and you always want to believe that they find their pet safe and sound. For those who are missing a pet, it’s always wise to check the local shelter(s) as around 810,000 of the animals in there are missing pets who end up being returned to their owners according to the ASPCA.

This is exactly why so many vets and shelters recommend microchipping your pet. This is a routine procedure that is safe and causes very little pain. The microchip is implanted under the skin, and can be used should your pet go missing. Shelters and veterinary offices can scan for a chip, which would have your contact details saved to it.

It’s a Myth That All Shelter Animals Have “Problems”

Young adult woman playing with adorable dogs in animal shelter.
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Another common myth that people can have about shelter animals is that they must have problems. They wouldn’t be there, and wouldn’t be surrendered if they didn’t have problems. Again, this is far from true as there are so many lovable, highly trainable, and amazing animals up for adoption.

It comes down to what the right fit is. You need to be honest about your lifestyle, expectations, and what kind of pet owner you will be. This will allow you to find the best match. Many people are more than happy to take on the more challenging cases, understanding that they likely just need patience, love, and training.

The Biggest Problem That Shelters Have Is a Lack of Space

Many Multiple Dogs in Animal Shelter Kennels Cages, Overcrowded
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Hannah Carl

If you’re under the impression that a lack of supplies, food, resources, staff, or even money is the biggest problem that shelters face – it’s time to think again. For many, the main problem is overcrowding. There are simply too many stray cats and dogs for shelters to take them all in. If you’ve ever wondered what the best way to help your local shelter is, it could be to adopt a pet and allow them to address their biggest concern.

Dogs in Shelters are Rarely Purebred

Female volunteer with homeless dogs at animal shelter outdoors
Image Credit: Shutterstock / New Africa

One thing you may not find a lot of in shelters is purebred dogs. The fact is that purebreds are usually highly sought after, and many will use a breeder to ensure excellent lineage. Purebred dogs are also quite expensive, so again, finding one in a shelter is rare.

With that said, mixed-breed dogs are an excellent option. Many animal enthusiasts and vets will say that mixed breeds are the smarter way to go. Many of the issues with purebreds get watered down, so the health and temperament of the dog can be better overall. The only issue is that you do take a chance as you never know exactly how big/small they may be, the type of fur they will have, and how they will look. Each puppy in the litter will be unique.

The Shelter May Offer Spaying and Neutering

Cute dog after spaying sleeping on bed with favourite toy. Post-operative Care.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Bogdan Sonjachnyj

Did you know that one of the best things you can do for your newly adopted cat or dog is to have them spayed or neutered? It is so important that many shelters across the country offer the services right there on the premises. Some even take it a step further and automatically spay or neuter all animals that come into their care. Spaying or neutering helps control the pet population, but it can also help prevent some types of infections and diseases from developing.

Some Have Meet and Greet Rooms

Happy parent and child choosing new pet in animal cat shelter
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Because picking a pet shouldn’t be a decision you rush into, many shelters have created a quiet room meant for a meet and greet. It gives potential adopters and adoptees to meet, interact, and see if they’d be a good match. Staff may also hang out in the room to offer tips and information, and answer any questions you may have.

Shelters Welcome the Whole Family to Visit and Decide Together

Happy family at animal shelter choosing a dog for adoption.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / hedgehog94

Shelters are also created to be welcoming environments where not just one family member but the entire household is encouraged to come in, interact, and make a choice together. This is especially important for households with kids, as you want to be sure that the animal is good with them and vice versa.

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