Over and over I hear the statistic that 30% of all dogs in shelters are purebred. This was originally stated by an organization that doesn’t have much to do with shelters. However, I’d like to shed some light on it here.
First and foremost, using untrue statements to get people into shelters will build reluctance when they find out the statement is not true. I’ve visited countless shelters and seen thousands of great dogs. I can assure you that there was never a shelter that I visited that had 30% purebred dogs. To that I say SO WHAT!
For most of the population looking to bring a new dog into their home there is absolutely no benefit to their new dog being purebred, mixed breed or a total mutt. Remember, breeders are now breeding mixed breed dogs because of their benefits, Labrodoodles, Cockapoos, Goldendoodles and the list goes on. Shelters had these dogs for years before any breeder ever thought of it. Mixed breed dogs often make much better pets because of their overall temperament and are often much healthier than purebreds. So we don’t need to focus on a statistic that isn’t true.
If we lie to people and send them into shelters believing that they will find row after row of purebreds and they don’t they will be disappointed and end up resenting the rescue community. Yes, there are purebred dogs in shelters… a few. These dogs are often snatched up by breed specific rescues and can be adopted from them. If you walk through the average shelter you will find many great pets, many mixed breed dogs, some old, some young, some sick and some old. All of them need a home. Most every one of them will make great pets. Educating people about the needs of dogs is a key to helping the dogs in our nation’s shelters. Shelter dogs make great pets for almost all to-be pet owners. Shelter dogs are unique and will win the hearts of most anyone who gives them a chance. They are not defective or bad; they are just forgotten and sometimes misunderstood.
I would say that you could find some purebred dogs in shelters; in fact I would bet that every shelter across the US has at least a few purebred dogs.
Another myth that was stated recently by a large animal rights organization was that shelter dogs are the best because they are trained and socialized by shelter workers, they are healthier and happier than breeder dogs and so forth. Again, I have to say that we don’t need to create a false illusion in order to try and do something right. Knowing that the person who made this statement probably never visited a shelter unless there was a camera following them, I will dismiss the comment to ignorance.
Shelter dogs are unique and have unique qualities that often make them awesome companions. Stating that they are well trained and socialized by the shelter staff is a far reach. Shelter staff is generally so overworked that training the pets there is the least of their concern. These pets may have colds or other issues that can be easily cured… because shelter pets get sick.
The bottom line is that shelter pets need our help. We want to paint a good picture for shelters and the animals that are living there. We want to be honest with potential adopters to encourage them to visit a shelter and adopt. Giving people a fair picture of what they will find will set them up for success. Shelter dogs and cats are great! They are unique and fun and need love, just like we do…. just like all animals do. Let’s set out to save more dogs and shelter pets and encourage more people to visit shelters by giving them the facts: They won’t see row after row of purebreds there, but what they will see is a selection of the most diverse, cool, one of a kind, fun pets that need us as much as we need them to make our lives happy and complete!