Common Myths About Animal Rescue

Q&A About Animal Rescues

Recently I had a friend ask me, "What is wrong with that dog, why is he in rescue?". I couldn't help but feel disappointed and shocked at the same time.

I think this is a fairly common assumption with people regarding animal rescues and many may have questions about what exactly a rescue does. But the assumption that just because a dog is with a rescue, there must be something wrong with him is completely wrong.

So why do dogs end up in rescue?

Basically, rescue animals' lives just didn't have as fortunate of a start as others. Dogs do not always end up in a shelter/rescue because they have some kind of illness and no one wants them. The animals are not “put” in rescue because there is something wrong with them. I'm sure if they had a choice, they would not be in that position.

The most common reasons a dog ends up in rescue?

  • abandoned by their owners
  • they were surrendered by their original owner
  • they were lost and their owner never came to claim them from the shelter
  • seized from a hoarding situation
  • they came from a breeder that was shut down
  • saved from a dog fighting operation
  • volunteers intercept an animal from being sold on sites such as Craigslist

They are just like any dog you buy or adopt. You may not always know their past and you may need to get a DNA test done but being in rescue does NOT automatically indicate that there is anything ‘wrong’ with the animal. Another common misperception is that all the dogs in rescue are mutts or mixed breeds. While many of them are mixed breeds, according to, purebreds typically account for about 25 to 30 percent of a shelter’s dog population.

I've also heard the question, "Why does it cost so much to adopt a dog?!".

I can tell you first hand that it is actually A LOT less expensive to adopt a dog than buy one elsewhere (or even be given a dog). The first year we had Lola, we spent over $1,000 in vet bills. Mind you, this was just your basic vaccinations, deworming, blood tests, spay, etc.

*View this guide to see the actual cost of a rescue dog.

Why is it so difficult to adopt a dog?

I know the feeling - once you decide you want a dog or puppy, you want them NOW.

Unlike buying a dog from a petstore (shriek) or breeder, quality rescue groups are very dedicated on making sure that the adoptive family is responsible and a good fit for the animal, to hopefully prevent the dog from being rehomed again in the future. Often, this means that the adoption process is composed of several steps. To meet the animal, you typically fill out an adoption form which is then sent to the foster home (since many rescues do not have physical locations where the dogs are kept) and from there, you arrange to meet the dog and then determine if the animal is a good fit. Then it may take a few more days for any additional veterinarian appointments and paperwork to be signed before the dog can go home with you. But I ensure you, it is totally worth the wait!

A few benefits of adopting from a rescue:

  • The animal you adopt will be up to date on shots/vaccinations and spayed or neutered
  • If you foster before adopting, you get to "test" the dog out to see if they're a good fit with your family
  • You are saving a dog in need and supporting a good cause

If you are interested in fostering, I highly recommend filling out a volunteer form with rescue groups in your area. If you are looking to adopt from a rescue group and are unsure of how to locate the animals, try using

Read the full 'Behind the Scenes of an Animal Rescue' HERE.


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Positively Expert: Sarah Lukemire

Sarah Lukemire is a pet blogger at, where she is raising positive awareness and fighting the negative stereotypes associated with pit bull type dogs, networking bully breed dogs in need of adoption rescue, as well as sharing recipes and tips for dog owners. Her mission is to change the perception of bully breeds.


9 thoughts on “Common Myths About Animal Rescue

  1. kcg

    As a long time rescue volunteer, I will add: owner surrender is a long and typically sad list: owner died, owner went to jail, owner was forced out of home, owner divorced, owner had a kid with allergies. We tend to villify these folks, as they also include: abandoned in house when they moved, got too old/big/black/insert adjective here. But as a breed rescue I assure you there are beautiful, talented, purebred d dogs with no more issues than normal all over.

  2. Linda Green Emmons

    Owner surrender may be due to illness or surgery. Not everyone has family to help. The owner may may be in their 60s and have the responsibility of their elderly parent who are in their 90s. They are facing surgery. They plan ahead in case that the surgery may go bad. Do they leave the problem of placing their pets to someone that old? Or do they take care of their responsibility. No matter what the persons age any one being placed under anesthesia has the risk of dying. Do not count on family to take of your pets. Place your wishes on your living will. You could have a car accident and no one would know that you have a pet in your house . At least someone will go and take care of the animal.

  3. Margaret Hendershot

    One of the myths I see often in rescue is that every dog who is scared or shies away from hands, feet, men, kids, etc. must have been abused. More likely they just weren't socialized. Or they just have a soft temperament.

  4. lorene3sibes

    Even though I myself, have gotten each & every one of my 7 dogs from a shelter or a rescue (& volunteer with a rescue organization as a transport driver & home checker), I would like to make a comment regarding your statement about how carefully rescues check & place rescues vs. breeders.
    It is true that GOOD rescue organizations (many of which are specific to a particular breed & knowlegeable of its needs) are very discerning about the homes where these dogs are going--after all, the last thing we want is for them to end up in a shelter. Some properly run shelters are as well, just not to the same degree (usually no home visits involved). Other shelters don't do much at all--they will adopt to pretty much anyone without much checking (& of course unfortunately, some of these dogs end up back in the shelter because not much effort went into evaluating how the family "fit" the dog due to breed or temperament or family situation & commitment in the 1st place). But to make the statement "unlike buying from a pet store (shreik) OR BREEDER", quality rescue groups are the ONLY ones dedicated to making sure that the adoptive family is responsible and a good fit for the animal to hopefully prevent the dog from being rehomed again in the future" is somewhat misleading. I would like to submit that QUALITY breeders go to the same lengths to make sure the adoptive family is a good fit & will provide a good home. QUALITY breeders (& not all of them are) have the same requirement that if the match doesn't work out or if there is any future circumstance requiring relinquishment of the dog that it go back to the breeder, just as a QUALITY rescue requires. Both of them are helpful and available resources if there are any difficulties that arise in the adjustment to your home. QUALITY breeders & rescues usually both maintain & have a long-term interest in, & relationship with their adoptive families over the life of that dog. Backyard, Craigslist, & internet breeders are NOT quality breeders. And of course, pet shop dogs are pretty much from puppy mills, so let's not even go there. (I shreik at all of these--and "free to a good home ads" as well) The relationship with the QUALITY rescue & the people in it was how I got involved in rescue myself in the first place. Personally, I can't see myself ever buying from a breeder, quality or not--my feeling is that I would rather share my home with an existing dog that needs a home--some of which have been mixed breed, some of which have been purebreds. People should also know that even puppies can be available at shelters & specific breed rescues as well. (Many times because someone relinquishes a pregnant momma).
    Your basic premise is good though--there are so many reasons that dogs end up in shelters--most of which are dogs who are there by no fault of their own and are not "damaged goods."

  5. Angel

    Have to agree with lorene3sibes, a good breeder will be just as stringent as a good rescue. I've known breeders take responsibility for a dog from one of their litters when it was almost 3 years old (had ended up in my care) and paid vet bills tried to re home and were amazing.
    There are some places that operate as a rescue but don't actually do a good job and put the dogs needs first. You cannot place all rescues and breeders in the same pot as other rescues and breeders. Good and bad in all walks of life including dog rescue!
    But yes, fostering is great and I can assure you all it is very rewarding indeed to see the change in a dog when you give a little love.

  6. al smith

    expenses would not so much if you forgo spaying or neutering your animal in the first year of their life. You will also have a healthy dog as well and why would a newly acquired pet need blood work? shots are cheap so is deworming

  7. Mary

    I just want to add that it is totally true that rescues are often times losing money on their adoptions (there are always some crazy ones out there asking hundreds of dollars for each dog which is ridiculous considering you could take that money and just get the dog fixed and vaccinated at your own vet for that price) but the majority of them are taking a significant loss. It costs at a minimum about 300 dollars to get a dog fixed (and I realize there are low cost spay/neuter facilities in some places that shelters can use sometimes but sometimes those aren't available), examinations, medications (heartworm and flea prevention and that's not counting anything that it takes to get them back to being fully healthy if they do have an illness), and vaccinations so asking 100-150 for an adoption fee is not really all that bad. On a different note, I will say that I do wish shelters either would or could get more info on the owner surrenders. It's hard to get past your own reservations about a dog that has been given up by it's owner when you don't know why they gave the dog up. Just sayin.

  8. femfilly

    Quality breeders are also Very selective about who they'll place their puppies with. My breeder only sells to 20% of applicants. She also only breeds when she has at least 12 homes on her wait list and it makes sense for her kennel to do so. It was harder to get a dog from her than any rescue in our area!

  9. mmm

    If a dog has been in a foster home, the pup will come with some information about his behavior, likes, dislikes, toys he prefers, etc. It's a great way for rescues to assess which dog will be right for you. You may fall in love with a dog but your interests don't mesh - you want a running partner and she wants to hog the couch - so it is matchmaking on the rescues' part.

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