Don’t fall victim to pet adoption myths warns pet care experts
  • Pet adoption named one of Brits’ most rewarding achievements
  • TV presenter, Andrea McClean, comments on her own pet adoption journey
  • Animal behaviourist debunks myths and shares top tips for managing the pet adoption process

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As the cost-of-living crisis hits the UK, pet adoption is on the brink of an epidemic. Shelters are experiencing huge pressures, with pet abandonment at its highest, pet adoption at its lowest and reduced funding.

The huge misconceptions about shelter pets and the adoption process are also adding increased pressure to an already turbulent situation, with 43 per cent of all adults believing that getting a pet from a shelter would be more work than buying one from a breeder. And 71 per cent think too many people dismiss the idea of pet adoption all without considering the process properly.

However, a study of 2,000 respondents, including 500 adults who have adopted a pet, showed that in reality, 74 per cent consider it to be one of their most rewarding achievements, and 83 per cent consider their pet to be part of the family.

The research, commissioned by the PEDIGREE® and WHISKAS® ‘Adoption Mission’ programme, whose mission is to end pet homelessness, revealed the best things about adopting a shelter pet. These include: changing the animal’s life forever, making a new best friend, as well as learning to love and care for something other than yourself.

Nearly three quarters (72 per cent) claim the benefits that come from pet adoption far outweigh the challenges and misconceptions involved. While shelter pet owners also believe that their pets are more appreciative of your love, care and treats than non-shelter pets.

Despite the undeniable, heart-warming perks of adoption, the study found that 53 per cent of adults who have adopted a pet believe that there are a lot of myths and misconceptions around it.

Five top myths debunked from Pet Behaviourist at Mars Petcare’s Waltham Petcare Science Institute, Dr Tammie King:

Myth 1: Pets that need to be rehomed are ‘broken’ (35 per cent)

Tammie’s tip - Be patient: “No pet comes as a ready-made perfect companion, regardless of whether you buy or adopt. Adopted animals have often experienced more changes in their lives so can be quite sensitive to disruption. But it’s important that you take time to build a relationship of trust.”

Myth 2: Pets are only in a shelter as they weren’t good pets for someone else (32 per cent)

 Tammie’s tip - Behaviour can be modified. “Pets are given up for many reasons, from their owners losing jobs, cost of living, unwanted behaviour, families splitting up, moving abroad, downsizing. As with any new relationship, your adoptive pet may not show their true personality until 2 or 3 weeks after you’ve brought them home as it takes them time to settle. Be mindful of this and work with your new adopted pet to bring out their best side.”

 Myth 3: You don’t know the medical history of pets that need rehoming (31 per cent)

 Tammie’s tip - Introduce a new diet slowly: “Often adopted animals from shelters come with part or full behavioural and medical history. Also, it’s worth carefully considering their diet. It may seem like a little thing, but it can make a big difference to the settling in process. Ask the shelter what they have been fed previously and if they have any specific dietary requirements.”

Myth 4: Pets in shelters are always badly behaved (31 per cent)

Tammie’s tip - Be mindful of individuality: “Cats and dogs have species-specific needs and their own individual personalities. Be sure that you give your new pet the opportunity to express their natural behaviour. Ways to do this might include giving them mental stimulation through food-dispensing toys, scratching posts and training, and also physical exercise. Shelters are terrific sources of advice on pets’ individual traits.”

Myth 5: You don’t know what you are getting with an adopted pet (31 per cent).

Tammie’s tip - Establish a routine and ensure they have lots of positive experiences. “Where do they eat, sleep, go to the toilet? Be clear and consistent as this helps to set the pet up for success. It’s important to encourage desirable behaviours, for example, toileting in the right place, chewing/scratching appropriate items, how to interact with people.”

Owen Johns from the PEDIGREE® and WHISKAS®’ ‘Adoption Mission’ Programme1, which commissioned the research, said: “The Adoption Mission is an online platform which has been supporting shelters for over a year with training, food and expertise in order to help them rehome more animals. Adopting a pet not only gives deserving pets a new home to thrive in, they can also provide us with that much needed support to help put a smile on our faces.

‘’It’s no secret that those who adopt a pet from a shelter reap the rewards both physically and emotionally. However, it can be a daunting process - but there are lots of resources to help guide you through the process. Adopting from a shelter is a win-win choice – you can add to your family and help a pet get a new start in life.”

Andrea McClean, Rescue dog owner, TV presenter and Ambassador of Pedigree and Whiskas’ ‘The Adoption Mission Programme’, which supports shelters across the UK, comments: “This research comes as no surprise, as I know from experience that adopted pets not only become your best friend, but they complete your family. Adopting my Teddy was one of my greatest achievements; he puts a smile on my face as soon as I get up in the morning until I go to bed.

“Adoption isn’t necessarily the easiest route, but it’s certainly the most rewarding. My family and I have loved every single second, and are honoured that we’ve been able to give Teddy the life he deserves. Adoption can seem like quite a daunting prospect to prospective pet owners, but I’d urge anyone to take a leap of faith and find their own best friend and companion.”

Supporting Andrea’s comments; 51 per cent of respondents would highly encourage others to adopt an animal, with 43 per cent believing it was much easier than anticipated, according to the OnePoll data.

Halita Obineche, Executive Director of the Association of Dogs and Cats Homes, comments: “It’s heart-breaking to think of the thousands of dogs and cats in shelters just waiting for their forever-home, simply because of the misconceptions around shelter animals. It’s important to remember that, with the right care and training, behavioural issues can be managed, modified and prevented. Thanks to The Adoption Mission, shelters have experts and behaviourists on standby to provide this support both within and beyond life in a shelter.

“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.”

TOP 20 BEST THINGS ABOUT ADOPTING A PET FROM A SHELTER:

  1. You’ve changed an animal’s life forever
  2. Saving an animal from a shelter is rewarding
  3. Can save a pet from being put down
  4. You make a new best friend
  5. You’re not encouraging breeding on puppy farms
  6. They’re more appreciative of your love, care and treats
  7. They already have their vaccinations and are chipped and spayed already before coming home
  8. You learn to love and care for something other than yourself
  9. The shelter will match you with a pet that has similar needs to you
  10. You can help an animal learn new things
  11. It’s cheaper – you only have to pay an adoption fee
  12. They are already trained e.g., toilet trained, used to walking on a lead
  13. They’ve been through a behaviour assessment so they can be matched to you
  14. Adopting from a shelter helps your mental health
  15. You can help a pet step out of their comfort zone
  16. You end up learning things about yourself you didn’t know
  17. They have been child-tested so you understand their behaviour around children before adopting
  18. You become part of a community of adopters
  19. You can skip the juvenile troubles and have an adult pet
  20. The ongoing support you receive from a shelter

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

For more general information on how to improve pet wellbeing see: https://shine.waltham.com/ which has some great resources for new pet parents who have adopted a dog or cat.

 


Notes to editors:

About the Adoption Mission:

1In 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.

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

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!)

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

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