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Shelter Dog Facts
Important Facts About Shelter Dogs


There are over 5000 independent animal shelters across the U.S.

Sadly, each year in the United States,  approximately 9 million animals are brought to live in shelters, many are abused dogs

50% of them will be euthanized. This means that every 6.5 seconds, a dog or cat is killed in a shelter.

1 in 5 pets end up in shelters due to running away from home or getting lost while unleashed.

Shelters are self governed and there is no national organization …The term Humane Society or ASPCA are generic terms and legally any one can use them.

Only 20% of dogs are returned to their owners, the rest are left to either be adopted or to die.

25% of all dogs in shelters are purebred breeds.

90% of shelter dogs have not been spayed or neutered when they arrive.

The top 6 most common purebred strays brought into shelters are: Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Beagles and Siberian Huskies.

Why Dogs Are Brought to Shelters 

There are many reasons why a puppy or dog is brought to a shelter and despite what many believe, the top reasons have nothing to do with misbehavior or biting problems.  Here are the top 5 reasons that a puppy or dog is surrendered:

1. Moving - In some cases an owner will move to a new apartment that does not allow pets or to a new neighborhood that has a ban on dog ownership. For others, having a "fresh start" makes them re-think pet ownership. Therefore, it is the time right before a move that people will surrender their dogs.

2. Landlord/ Landlady problems - Even in an apartment that allows for pets, some owners need to give their dog up to adoption if the owner of the building finds fault (other occupants complain of barking, destruction of property, etc.)

3. Cost of ownership - Some people do not consider the cost of owning a puppy or dog beyond the initial purchase price. However, properly feeding a dog, buying needed supplies and particularly veterinarian bills usually amount to hundreds (if not a couple thousand) of dollars each year. Sadly, many dogs are given up to shelters when they are very ill and the owners cannot afford the cost of treatment.

4. Time availability - In some cases, a new puppy will seem like a wonderful idea, but then the reality of care and time needed to train and socialize the dog become apparent. When a person realizes that they do not have the time to take proper care of their puppy or dog, it is then that the pup may be taken to the shelter and given up.

5. Personal Issues - It is a lot easier to care for a puppy or dog if you are feeling happy and you are in good health.  Unfortunately, some people find that personal problems that lead to a depressed state and/or stress or health problems that limits mobility are too much to handle and it is then that a dog may be surrendered to a shelter.

Facts About Shelter Dog Adoption

5% of dog owners obtain their pet at little or no cost…This is via shelters of some sort or through friends or family.

Of the dogs that are rescued from shelters, 20% are picked up by breeders and 20% are picked up by new owners.

25% of people who adopt a dog from a shelter end up returning that dog to a shelter.

The cost of taking care of a dog average $500 per year.

Shelter Dog Facts Regarding the Dog’s Behavior and Temperament

We will never know the full experiences of any dog that has been placed into a shelter.  They include dogs that have been starved, left to die in pain, left to suffer from dehydration, hit, burned, kicked, forced to fight and other forms of severe neglect.

Most dogs who are brought to a new home will at first behave as they did in their old home, for example, they may not expect to be fed on a regular basis, some have never felt the touch of grass in their entire lives, some will be very sensitive to loud voices and yelling since it used to mean that physical punishment was to soon follow.

When a dog is adopted from a shelter, they need a calm, peaceful introduction to their new home.  Some people expect the puppy or dog to jump around happily when he or she sees lots of new toys and a comfortable bed…. One must remember that the dog does not understand that those things are for them….And they are confused….It takes time.

If a household has children, it is recommended to introduce the dog slowly. If all children rush at the dog to hug him or her and say hello, it may be much too overwhelming.

Only after the shelter dog has adjusted to their new home should introductions be made to extended family, neighbors and friends.

While they may have picked up behavioral patterns in their last home and at the shelter, with time they can learn new habits, new behavior and become fully adjusted happy canine family members.

Each dog has a different level of coping skills.  One must be prepared for any reaction….Some wish to retreat to what appears to be a safe spot to rest and “take it all in”…Others will immediately begin to play.

All dogs are very impressionable during the puppy years and while they may be traumatized or not used to being treated well,  it will take time for them to get used to a new way of life…it may take a while, but it will happen.  New owners must have lots of love and patience.

It is a shelter dog fact that many have triggers that will evoke certain behaviors. For example, one dog may shake in fear when they hear the garage door opening if a former owner used to come home in that way and then abused the dog.  Another may run and hide if the doorbell rings. 

Any behaviors can be smoothed over with time, training and love.

Shelter dogs respond best when they are rewarded for good behavior (such as when house training) and when they are simply ignored for bad behavior….What they crave most is your love and attention, so ignoring them for a bit if they, for example, destroy a sofa, will make a stronger impact than if you yelled at them.

It is a shelter dog fact that many of them have issues with food. They may take food and hide it….they may scoop up food in their mouth and then eat it in another room…they may show aggression if anyone gets close to them while they are eating.  This is all normal.  This is because in many cases of neglect, 1 of the 1st elements to happen is that the former owner did not properly feed their dog.

A shelter dog should have their food  and water bowls always in the same spot. They should be left in peace when they eat.  If they carry food away, one should lovingly bring it back to the food bowl.  If they show aggression, one should train the dog to sit before any food is given as this shows the dog that the owner is in charge and it allows for better behavior.   It is also best to offer meals on a set schedule..the dog should see and understand that the owner is providing the food … if it is simply left in a bowl all day, the dog will not connect the dots.

Most will have certain activities that they like the most. For some it will be chewing on a favorite toy. For others it may be going out for a walk. Whatever is most important to them, an owner should always command the dog to sit before that activity begins…This encourages good behavior and creates a pattern of the dog listening to and respecting their new owner.



Facts by Breed:
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