I have heard some people imply that pets at shelters are less than perfect. Does the fact that an animal is at a shelter mean there is something wrong with it? Why would an animal be in shelter if there was nothing wrong with it?

  • I strongly disagree with the reason chosen by voters for closing. There are research and statistics addressing specifically this question, so how is it "primarily-based opinion" ? – Skippy le Grand Gourou Nov 28 '14 at 9:13
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    I agree with skippy here. Primarily opinion based is for questions that are asking for opinions or guesses. This is asking for an explanation of why someone would say that not if they dogs are actually rejects. – Critters Nov 29 '14 at 13:51

Do perfect animals exist ?…

Anyway, there are many reasons an animal may end in a shelter without necessarily having "issues". Here are the top ten reason from some statistics gathered by the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy¹, in the US:


  1. Moving (7 %);
  2. Euthanasia, illness (7 %);
  3. Landlord not allowing pets (6 %);
  4. Cost (5 %);
  5. Euthanasia, old age (5 %);
  6. No time for pets (4 %);
  7. Inadequate facilities (4 %);
  8. Too many in house (4 %);
  9. Ill (4 %);
  10. Personal problems (4 %).


  1. Too many in house (11 %);
  2. Allergies (8 %);
  3. Moving (8 %);
  4. Cost (6 %);
  5. Landlord not allowing pets (6 %);
  6. No homes for litter (6 %);
  7. House soiling (5 %);
  8. Euthanasia, illness (5 %);
  9. Personal problems (4 %);
  10. Found animal (4 %).

Actually if you sum up reasons based on the pet itself, beside age and illness, you get about 20 % for dogs and less than 15 % for cats.

¹ Human and Animal Factors Related to the Relinquishment of Dogs and Cats in 12 Selected Animal Shelters in the United States. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 1(3), 207-226. 1998. Mo D. Salman [PDF].


I volunteer at a shelter, and I see that animals come into the shelter for a variety of reasons. Here are some of the reasons that have nothing to do with the pet:

  1. They are lost. Roughly 60% of the pets that came into our shelter this year were brought in because they were lost and do not have identification tags or registered microchips. After a 72-hour hold, they are eligible to be adopted.

  2. The owner cannot care for them any longer because the owner is deceased, seriously ill, moving, homeless, or out of work and cannot afford the expenses any more.

All pets that come into the shelter are evaluated for temperament: Aggressive or dangerous animals will not be offered for adoption. There are many dogs that come in that lack training. We begin to teach basic obedience while they are in the shelter and find that the vast majority respond to it and begin to improve. You can be guaranteed that any puppy you get from a breeder or other source is going to be untrained, and so you should be prepared to "teach the rules" to any dog you acquire. Sometimes you may be pleasantly surprised that a shelter dog already understands quite a few of them.


What is an issue for one person/family is common sense for others. For example, some people buy dogs on looks without any intention to exercise them as breeders recommend for the breed. Thus, they get a bored, unhappy dog: a problem dog. Not knowing the breed's temperament is one of the biggest reasons for calling an animal a problem dog. If a breed is known to be a barker, and you live in an apartment, it isn't the best choice for you!

So, many of the dogs you'll get at a pound are good, loving dogs who just want to be true to their natures.

Do perfect animals exist? Absolutely. The definition varies though by person.


Yes, animals in shelter are rejects. If someone wanted the animal, then they wouldn't be in a shelter. Once an animal is adopted, it is no longer unwanted (aka a reject).

Although animals could be unwanted because they have an ailment, that's not necessarily the case, but the shelter should be able to tell you the medical history of the animal in case that's something you want to take into consideration when adopting.

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