AP-Petside Poll: Are Rescue Animals America’s Favorite Pet?Published November 16, 2011
Rescue Animals: Getty Images
Over half of Americans have adopted a rescue animal at some point, and three in 10 say their current pet came from a shelter, according to a new AP-Petside.com poll.
Are rescue pets emerging as America’s top dogs?
It’s quite possible, since 84 percent of adopters say they had a positive experience working with an animal shelter. Sixty-four percent called it “very positive.”
Meanwhile, the Humane Society of the United States estimates that 6-8 million animals enter shelters each year. Of the animals that do enter, the HSUS estimates that half (3-4 million) wind up euthanized.
"Adoption is critical to reducing the number of animals that are euthanized in shelters every year," says Inga Fricke, the Director of Sheltering and Pet Care Issues for the Humane Society of the United States. "If everyone adopted their next pet, we could bring an end to euthanasia of adoptable animals."
As such, it’s no surprise that most pet owners (51 percent) say they would go to a shelter if they were looking to bring a new pet into their home, among those who’ve done it before, it’s 68 percent.
But even among animal rescuers, it seems some pets are more likely to find homes than others; only 15 percent of adopters were looking for a senior pet, who was already house trained, in their most recent adoption.
The alarming statistic implies that most people aren’t interested in taking a senior pet home. "People have the misguided notion that older pets must have behavioral challenges or they would not have ended up in the shelter," says Fricke. The truth is most pets end up in shelters because the owner had a problem, like moving or a relationship change, not the pet, she adds.
And even if an older pet needs to learn a thing or two, training is usually easier than it would be with a younger pet. "Older pets can focus more easily and learn even better than a distracted puppy or kitten," Fricke says.
"There are so many advantages to having an older dog in your life," says Kelly Jackson, Senior Pet Lifestyle Expert for Aarff.com. "Older dogs are great at giving love, and once they're settled in to your home they are grateful for the second chance you've given them."
Of those who adopted pets from a shelter, 58 percent said they felt they were being socially responsible by pursuing adoption.
"Adoption definitely feels good—it's the easiest way to save a life," says Fricke. "Adopted pets form a unique bond with their new owners, and the goodwill goes even further than just that one adoption; Friends and family may consider adopting after seeing your wonderful adopted pet, [and] the shelter you adopted from now has space to give another pet a chance at adoption. The ripple effects are felt far and wide."
In addition, 51 percent of all poll participants said that it was extremely/ very likely that their next pet would be from an animal shelter or rescue.
As adoption rates continue to increase, no small number of rescue animals are being saved: In the 1970s, 12-20 million dogs and cats were euthanized annually, with only 65 million pets finding their way into the hearts and homes of Americans.
Now, over 135 million pets are in our homes, and euthanasia numbers have substantially declined. In order to continue this positive trend, it is important that we continue to consider adoption as a very real option for finding our lovable pets.
Do you have a rescue animal at home? If not, have you considered looking in to finding a pet from an animal rescue or shelter? Share your experiences with us in a comment!
Visit petside.com/PetNet2011 today for a special day-long online adoption event!