Thousands of cats and dogs in shelters are in need of a forever-home because of would-be owners' misconceptions about shelter adoption.

While shelters are seeing the number of pets in their care increasing, a survey of 2,000 adults to mark National Dog Adoption Day (25th October) reveals the worries around pet adoption with 41 per cent having doubts about adopting a pet for the first time. 

Top concerns include: 

  • Thinking adopters will have to deal with a pet’s behavioural issues (54 per cent)
  • Thinking adopters won’t know the medical history (40 per cent)
  • Thinking adopters won’t know what they’re getting with a rescue pet (40 per cent)
  • Thinking adopted pets will be constantly ill (22 per cent)
  • Not knowing the costs involved in adopting a pet (22 per cent)
  • Thinking they will only be able to adopt older animals (15 per cent)
  • Thinking the adoption process will take a long time (15 per cent)

The research, which was commissioned by PEDIGREE® and WHISKAS® as part of their joint mission to end pet homelessness by 2030, showed that, in reality, over three quarters (76 per cent) said it was a good experience and would definitely do it again. Nearly three quarters (72 per cent) of those who have already adopted thought the process was far easier than they originally thought.

Rescue dog owner and Great British Bake Off winner, Candice Brown, commented on the research findings: “According to the research, more than a fifth of adults admitted that they wouldn’t consider rehoming a pet from an animal shelter, while four in 10 would only adopt a young cat or dog. I adopted my dog Sybil, and she has bought more joy to my life than I could ever have imagined. The process of adoption was simple and straightforward and it’s enhanced my life for the better. 

“There are thousands of dogs that need loving, forever homes, but are held up in shelters because potential owners are preoccupied with worries of costs, time constraints and other things. The truth is that any pet is a big commitment, regardless of whether it is adopted or bought from a breeder, but if you are looking to expand your family with an animal, adoption from a shelter is the most rewarding way to go about it. Adopt, don’t shop.” 

Six in 10 found adopting a pet to be a very rewarding experience with 53 per cent delighted to have a new companion in their life.

Adopting a pet also provided a positive distraction from other things in life while also reducing their stress levels for three in 10 adults.

Dr Tammie King, Pet Behaviourist from Mars Petcare’s Waltham Petcare Science Institute added: “It’s heart-breaking to think of the thousands of dogs and cats sat in shelters just waiting for their forever-home, simply because these misconceptions around shelter animals persist. Pets are given up for adoption for all sorts of reasons, so the idea that all shelter animals have behavioural or medical issues is incorrect. 

“It’s also important to remember that, with the right care and training, a pets’ behaviour can be changed, and shelters have experts and behaviourists on standby to provide that support both within and beyond life in a shelter. 

“The idea that shelters don’t always know the medical and behavioural history of the pets in their care is also not true. Shelters often have a wealth of information on pets in their care and are experts in using all the information and resources at their disposal to carefully find the right match between adopters and pets. 

“Taking on a pet is a major life choice and requires time and research to ensure you are fully prepared for the responsibility. Many people have an overall rewarding experience from pet adoption, whether they’re an experienced pet owner or simply making the step for the first time.”

In partnership with the Association of Dogs and Cats Homes (ADCH), The Adoption Mission, championed by PEDIGREE® and WHISKAS®, is taking the first steps to end pet homelessness in the UK by working directly with British animal shelters to help encourage more potential pet owners to consider adoption as well as better equipping shelter staff with the tools and resources they need to facilitate more adoptions.

For more information on pet adoption, and to find your nearest shelter, visit: https://uk.pedigree.com/pedigree-adoption-mission


Notes to editors:
Research conducted by One Poll in October 2021 on 2,000 UK adults

Things to think about when considering pet adoption, advice by Dr Tammie King, Applied Behaviour Technical Leader, Mars Petcare

1. Why do you want a pet?

  • Consider your motivation for getting a pet to help understand if it is a good idea.  Because “they look cute” is not a good enough reason. Avoid impulsive decisions as it’s important to take potential pet ownership seriously and ensure it’s the right thing for you (and the pet!)

2. Do your research (be informed!)

  • What sort of pet are you interested in? Find out more about these animals – talk to others who have them, meet them, spend time and to really establish if this is the pet for you. If it’s a particular breed or breed type, learn more about them – their characteristics, potential health issues, speak to breeders and visit rescue organisations to get a good overview both good and bad. Shelter staff will often have lots of information on surrendered pets. Important to become knowledgeable so you can make an informed decision which will be best for you and the pet in the long run

3. Will this fit with your lifestyle? Here’s a checklist of questions to ask and think about:

  • How much time do you spend at home? What type of pet would best suit you and your lifestyle?  Do you move to a new house often? Long holidays abroad?
  • How much spare time do you have? (training/exercising/grooming etc). Do you have the time & willingness to engage with your pet to provide them with the best care?
  • What is your household like? Do you live alone or with family? Do you have young or older children? Are there elderly family members to consider? Do you have other pets to think about? 
  • Do you rent or own your home? Will your landlord agree? 
  • The costs of having a pet can add up, so consider if you can finance the following: veterinary care, pet insurance, grooming (if required), training, food and toys
  • Are there any allergies in your home or network to consider?
  • How much physical space do you have in your home? Small/large living space? Flat or house? Enclosed/secure garden?
  • What type of pet personally appeals to you? Will other family members like them too?
  • Are there reputable pet friendly facilities nearby (dog parks, boarding, day care, vets, groomers etc.?)
  • If you decide YES to a pet – consider when is the best time to get your pet (can you take some annual leave? Kids at school or home? It’s important to lay down proper training foundations to help new pet adjust to your lifestyle


Mars Petcare, which includes popular pet food brands such as Pedigree and Whiskas, is dedicated to making A Better World for Pets™ and committed to ending pet homelessness across the globe.

Championed by PEDIGREE®  and WHISKAS®, The Adoption Mission is taking the first steps to realise this vision in the UK by working directly with animal shelters to identify the misperceptions and help tackle the challenges around pet abandonment and adoption.

As brand dedicated to its love of dogs, PEDIGREE®  provides delicious food to keep dogs happy and healthy, and alongside WHISKAS®, who are devoted to creating loving and caring homes for more cats throughout their lives and inspiring the best cat care, they are both driving phase one of the programme rollout to dog and cat residents of shelters. The Adoption Mission is providing a comprehensive programme of support for animal shelters, including guidance from behaviourists, practical back-office support and toolkits which aim to enable them to overcome adoption challenges and mitigate abandonment scenarios. The ambition is to equip shelters and pet owners with the resources and tools they need to ensure all pets are wanted, cared for and welcomed.