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Pet Tips: Dog Hybrids, Shelter Pets, Rehoming Pets, Help for Lost Pets, Getting a New Pet

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Things everyone should know: everyone who's ever owned a pet, thinking about getting a pet, lost or found a pet, everyone who might in the future, and everyone who cares about pets

6-8 million cats and dogs enter shelters each year, only half are adopted. The numbers are staggering, and these HSUS estimate don't even include all the birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, pet mice, pet rats, other small animals, reptiles, horses, and barnyard animals that enter shelters. Find your new pet on

statistics source


FEATUED PET: Small Animal



Have you heard of the new hybrid dogs? Perhaps you've read about this new doggie "fad" on the internet. Sometimes called designer pups, these "new" breeds are really crossbreeds/mixes of two existing breeds (Pug+Beagle=Puggle).  These crossbreeds / mixes have had a recent surge in popularity but do not require paying a high price because they can be found in shelters although some may not know how to look them up.  To find the "new" breeds search or for 1 of the 2 breeds in the dog (for puggle search pug OR beagle) and look through the results for what you want. Perhaps the world is realizing that mixed breeds and mutts make great pets :)
Technically, they are not hybirds because hybrid implies 2 different species (horse+donkey=mule) and all dogs are the same species :)
If you are set on a certain breed, breed combo, most shelter can put you on list and notify you when that breed comes in.

Common Misconceptions of Shelter Pets

The cost is rising: click here to read how the problem of pet overpopulation affects everyone.

Many have the false impression that pets end up in shelters because there's something wrong with them.  Many "behavior problems" can be solved by someone with the time to properly train a pet. Aggression is often due to fear which can come from not spending enough time with a pet.  However, as pets with any problems, behavioral or health, are unlikely to be put up for adoption what shelters end up with is many pets who are in shelters through no fault of their own.
Common reasons pets end up in shelters:
allergies of owner/kids
landlord changed rules/fees
puppies / kittens / other babies unable to find homes
didn't realize responsibility time it takes to care for or properly train pet
There are also many lost pets in shelters. Lost pets get a number of days (around 5-7, varies by shelter) to be found. Pets given up by owners are not guaranteed any amount of time.
They may go down the day they are dropped off because:
there's not enough space
they become stressed/nervous in an unfamiliar enviorment
they're scared of strangers/ other animals/ being locked up or confined
In other words, because an animal is friendly at home does not mean they will do fine in a shelter, and because shelters go by behavior more than appearance, purebreeds are not given more oppertunity than mixed breeds, although you will frequently find purebreed dogs in shelters.
Puppies & Kittens: Some think puppies & kittens will easily find a home. Many shelters have a policy not to adopt out puppies & kittens under 4 months, because they do not want to adopt out pets before they have been spayed/neutered and received a rabies vaccine. Many puppies & kittens go down because of this, as do many pregnant pets. Their only hope is a foster home; shelters are always in need of new foster homes.
Another thing to rememeber is litters often come in large groups and shelters are often full. Bringing in a group of babies often means many pets will go down to make room including fully trained adults and well behaved older pets. Shelters know people want young pets, so if they are of age they might get a few more days, which means taking up space; as a result twice as many pets or more may go down to give younger pets more chance.

Cats: a special note. When in the prescence of a new cat, nearly all cats will develop a minor respiratory infection (only contagious to cats) as they get use to being around the new cat's natural germs. This serves to boost their immune system and they recover quickly in a home environment.  As new cats come into shelters daily, cats regularly get respiratory infections after being in the shelter for only a few days. Cats tend to be stressed in the shelter and recover slower and there is possiblilty for new infection as the cats they are around are always changing.  If adopted, cats will recover quickly, often without the meds the shelter provides. However, some shelters will use this as a way to decide which cats to put down because space is always needed.

Other species: Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Birds, Reptiles, and even Fish do end up in shelters.  Some shelters, even if they are not equiped to care for them will take them in only to put them down.  Some shelters work with rescue groups and can give you info. Some shelters who work with rescue groups will often only send them strays, no owner give ups, because many rescue groups (including dog and cat breed rescues) are a small group of foster homes with very limited space, not large shelters. There are also shelters who will adopt out pets other than cats and dogs. Before giving up an animal, be sure to find out what type of shelter you are giving the animal to.  Also, while these type of pets have less chance in the shelters which do not adopt them out, they can be easier to rehome than a cat or dog so read the tips below to try rehoming them yourself first.

"Why wasn't I told this before"
If you have ever dropped off a pet at a shelter, and asked if your pet had a good chance of finding a home, remember that the shelter can't really give an answer. They can't predict how the pet will react to the shelter situation and any pet can become stressed, nervous, or aggressive after the owner leaves. They also don't know how quickly they will need to make space for new pets that come in, or how quickly a cat will develop a respiratory infection.  Remember that all pets given up by their owners are not given a set amount of time and new pets come in daily.  The best answer they can give is "we'll try".
A note about certain breeds: Many shelters do not consider dogs such as Pitbulls, Rottweilers, and Dobermans to be adoptable, or only after extensive behavioral evaluations, and there often isn't space to hold them until the evaluation is complete.  A common accidental mix in some areas due to many unfixed Pitbulls and the popularity of Labs is a Lab-Pitbull. So Labs are also held to stricter standards than you'd think. One reason for such strict standards this is that a bite, even accidental, and even from a large, playful dog could cause negative publicity for a shelter, and adversely affect the likely hood for adoption of all other pets housed there. In addition, a shelter's adoption policies are meant to reduce the chances of the pet being returned to the shelter by a owner who is unprepared, as well as reflect the laws in the local area, as some areas restrict ownership of pit bulls.
Do not rely on "no kill" shelters. They are often full with long waiting lists and they also pass animals between shelters to make space, including kill shelters.  If you can't rehome your pet, shelters are better than the streets where pets can be hit by cars, abused, attacked by wild animals, starve, or become injured or sick in other ways. The risk is not worth an extra few days to wait for no one to find them, or to hold space for them while others go down. Another misconception of shelters is that the unwanted pet polulation is worse than you think.
Rehoming can be easier than you think.

Rehoming a Pet

Is your pet in need of rehoming? You are their best hope. Many stop at asking people they know, but there are many other ways to help your pet find a new home. Many reputable breeders want to do all they can to keep pets from ending up in a shelter. Some breeders even have a contract that requires the pet be returned to them if the owner can't keep them. If they can't take the pet back, they should be able to offer tips to help you. Breed rescues are often full, but should be able to help and offer tips on finding your pet a new home even if your pet does not fit into a particular breed. One option may be to foster the pet yourself, and they can post ads on their website to show others who may be interested in your pet.
Please try these before bringing your pet to the shelter:
Post ads (many places will do this free)
in the local pennysaver if your area has one
the newspaper
at vets
at petstores many petstores will let you post ads as long as you are not selling, (if giving the pets away or asking an adoption fee, reccomended to find a good home)
Websites have a place for owners to post pets in need of homes (worldwide, for Guinea Pigs)  (for Pitbulls, and Pitbull mixes, also training tips)
Here is another helpful website, based in Australia but relavant to USA and other areas you will find pet overpopulation is a worldwide problem.
Another benifit is by rehoming the pet yourself you will be saving lives of other pets because they did not have to make room in the shelter for your pet.  If you ever have to rehome a pet, and later want to adopt, let the shelter know that you found your pet a new home.

Does this mean it's easy to find good homes for puppies and kittens? No, one reason is simply the number of pets that are out there; please read the shelter section above about what happens to young or pregnant pets in shelters. Are you aware of puppy mills, where dogs are breed for mass production? They are a huge problem; backyard breeding of random pet owners is actually an even bigger problem than puppy mills. Puppies and kittens properly cared for and raised to the leagally required age have little room for profit. It is hard to compete with the many free pets available and there's no gaurantee that pets will not end up in shelters soon after. Pregnancy can risk the life of the mother and there is also no gaurantee on the health of the babies. Each individual breed of Purebreed dogs have a number of known health problems they are prone to. Mixed breeds generally have an unknown history, although mixed breeds can sometimes be healthier, due to the more varied genes of the parents. One thing every breeder must know is the genetic history of the parents, or family background, because other animals can have birth defects too.  Here is just one incidence of what can happen if you breed pets you don't know the genetic background of, multiple pups born with missing legs:

Lost or Found a Pet?

You can also post lost pet ads at many of the places mentioned above in rehoming and you can look through found pet ads. You can also:
file a lost report at local shelters.
Remember that shelters get in new lost pets daily and often do not have all of them posted on their websites. This is especially true for certain species and breeds which they do not adopt out as many only post pets for adoption not all pets at the shelter.
Did you know? You can microchip ID your pet, most shelters (and vets) have microchip readers, it could save your pet's life. Shelters will provide vet care for sick, injured, lost pets, especially if they know who the owner is. Many shelters also have a 24 hour emergency staff.  Collars can get lost and some pets wander farther than people believe they can. Some are picked up by people who care for them temporarily and then drive them to a shelter. Pets can end up very far from home and a microchip could save them.
info on microchiping and more tips to help your pet find their way home:

Basic New Pet Info

Below is mostly about dogs & cats. To learn about guinea pig care use these links:
Something very important that some shelters don't even know is Guinea Pigs need Vitamin C to survive & stay healthy.

Thinking of getting a pet? Not only does doing a little research before getting the pet give them the best chance in life, it also protects you from getting ripped off.
Mixed breed pets have been sold to uninformed buyers under purebred labels. (ex. white dog with curly Poodle/Bichon fur sold as "Maltese"). Did you know? Some puppies look very different from the adults and actually change color (common example, Yorkies).
Designer "Hybrids" have been sold for high prices to uninformed customers who thought they were a new breed, and did not know they were actually a mixed breed. (ex. a Puggle, a mix of Pug & Beagle, just new name to sell under, nothing new to shelters)
Many pets in stores come from puppy mills where good health was not a priority. These pets have made it to the stores and have become sick shortly after purchase.
Getting a purebreed does not require paying a high price.  Many shelters can put you on a waiting list for a certain type of pet, &/or inform you about rescue groups. Purebreed dogs and cats are frequently found in shelters and there is a rescue group for most breeds.
New owners are being told that the pet has had "all shots" but the pet is only 8 weeks old. This is a common problem with store-bought puppies. Both cats and dogs have a recommended shot schedule. 8 weeks is the age when pets first become able to receive a first set of shots. So it is possible that they have had no shots.  Or they may be "current on all shots" but have only received the first set. If that's the case they should then come with papers stating what shots they had and when because there are 4 major sets of shots that they should receive. The very important rabies shot is not given until the last set when they are at least 4 months old. Sometimes a store does give other sets but the puppy has to be brought back to the store to get them, or come with vet vouchers, but often new owners are not told this by the store. The only way to be sure you are getting what you pay for is to be well informed before getting the pet. Did you know? Many shelters give discounted shots to cats and dogs.
Pets who have not received all sets of shots can still get diseases which other pets may be carrying without any signs. Other pets who have had all shots and are immune to diseases can still carry and pass them to younger pets. Therefore, it is dangerous to their health to bring a very young pet to a store and let them walk around on the ground and interact with other pets. However, when a pet receives all shots, it is a good idea to bring them to a store to socialize them.
Pets are being sold or given away before the legally required age. In many places puppies and kittens are legally required to be 8 weeks before being separated from the mother. (The age can vary state to state so be sure to find out before you get a pet.) This gives them a chance to be properly weaned from the mother's milk. If they are taken away early that may result in a pet with a weaker immune system, more likely to get sick.
As a former groomer and shelter volunteer, I have first hand experience with how uninformed people are when getting a new pet. People would often come into the groom shop with a combination of many of the above examples: 6 week old pets sold under the wrong breed whose owners were told they had "all shots".  Many came into the groom shop with the new pets to find out how to care for them.  They would also want them washed. Young pets have very sensitive skin, prone to drying and becoming flaky or scabby when washed, and without their shots, are likely to become sick from being around other dogs. They should only be cleaned (and only when necessary, such as when soiling themselves) with special non-alcohol wipes, or by their mother. A disturbing amount of people came into grooming wanting tails or ears cut off, under the impression that dogs did not feel pain, assuming the procedure was similar to a hair cut. Their dogs were often 4 months or older and tail bones had hardened, making the procedure more painful and dangerous, even for a vet to do.
If you did not know any of this, please do more research before getting a pet. Visiting a shelter is a good idea, they will be able to tell you a lot of info including the time and cost that goes into caring for a dog or cat. You will also be able to see the many homeless pets what happens if you are unable to fulfill your part. Shelters may be less knowledgeable about other kinds of pets but all pets require time and care and many owners do not do any research until they have the pet, only to realize they can't keep them.

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