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  • Writer's pictureZia Mowbray

Debunking Animal Shelter Myths

When we hear ‘animal shelter’ or ‘shelter pet’, we usually have several thoughts come to mind, many of which are biassed and, ultimately, wrong. This month we wanted to address some of the myths surrounding all things animal shelters, and speak from experience about the preconceived thoughts many have. We also wanted to answer some of the biggest questions people have about animal shelters, so stick around to the end to read them!

Myth 1: Pets end up at shelters because something is wrong with them.

Wrong! Pets usually end up at shelters for no fault of their own, but because they have to be surrendered due to life circumstances, such as their owners passing or having to move away. We’ve found that people are distraught having to give up their pets, but they know it’s ultimately for the best. 

Myth 2: All shelter pets are old.

Wrong again! Animal shelters get animals ranging from newborns to senior pets, and literally every age in between. There is even a season of the year when younger cats are more likely to populate shelters! It is true that older pets are more likely to spend more time at a shelter, because people usually adopt kittens over them, but they are definitely not the only age group to be found at shelters. At our shelter, we’ve found our cats are more likely to be around a year old when they come into the shelter.

Myth 3: Shelter Animals are more likely to have mental health issues.

Evidence suggests that mixed breeds actually lower the risk of genetic diseases, and with many of the pets you find at shelters being young, they are able to be well cared for longer, reducing illness significantly. We do find some mental health issues in our shelter, such as depression, but we have tactics to combat it and make sure all animals are happy and healthy, just like any other pet. 

Myth 4: It is difficult to adopt from shelters.

Our adoption process is as transparent and simple as possible, and we keep our adoption fees as low as possible. This ensures our adopters can spend more money on pet supplies, food and toys for their new furry family member.

Myth 5: Animal shelters are sad places.

Whilst shelters are inherently sad by circumstance, they actually are beautiful places filled with love and people passionate about helping animals to have the best lives possible. Every shift brings something to smile about and animals get happier as they bond with volunteers and adopters.

Myth 6: Adoption fees are too expensive.

Compared to the price of breeders, adoption fees are almost nothing! At our shelter, we try to keep them as low as possible by only getting you to cover the cost of adoption papers and the legal stuff, whereas the cost to vaccinate, desex, feed, house and advertise our cats are covered by the donations we receive and help from our beloved vet!

Myth 7:Shelter animals are unsocialised.

This can sometimes be the case for a very limited number of shelter animals, but part of being at a shelter means they are socialised with people and other animals, so this is never a problem for long.

Myth 8: Shelter animals have been abandoned once and are unlikely to trust again.

This final myth couldn't be further from the truth! In fact, usually those who have been surrendered, or abandoned, have known what it is like to love and be loved, and are therefore more willing to connect with others as they know how to show their affection and what it means to be loved in return.

Shelter cat looking lovingly at volunteer, Pets for Life Billinudgel

Biggest Questions About Animal Shelters

  • Where do donations go?

Donations go straight to the animals at the shelter. If they are money donations, they can cover everything from pet food to medical procedures like desexing, whereas physical donations like toys, blankets and food go directly to the animals to best help them and their individual needs.

  • How long do animals stay at a shelter?

This varies between shelters, but as a no-kill shelter, we will keep cats indefinitely until they are adopted or placed in long-term foster care. This means no matter how long they’re at the shelter, they’ll always have a home, food and love with us, as well as the constant opportunity to have any of their individual needs met. Our first goal is always to get cats adopted, but we will never put a time constraint on their journey wherever possible.


  • How do you volunteer at an animal shelter?

Volunteering is all about getting in contact with the right person. Ask your local shelter about the possibility of volunteering, find out the requirements and ensure it is something you want to do, and keep an open conversation with the shelter to find a time to do a trial and test volunteering out! If you’re in or around the Byron and Tweed shires, get in contact with us today to see about volunteering!


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