Animals in shelters are just like any other pet, the only difference is that something happened in their life that resulted in them needing to be rescued. And while it’s true that some animals in shelters have suffered abuse or neglect, many others are pets that were surrendered because a family was moving, their caregiver passed away, or the family felt they were no longer able to care for them. But regardless of how or why an animal ended up in a shelter, they all have one thing in common: they need a home.

Your options are practically unlimited when it comes to finding the perfect companion at your local shelter or rescue. There are plenty of mixed-breed pets to choose from, or you can find purebred pets if you’re looking for a specific breed. And shelters have pets of all ages, from tiny puppies to sweet seniors looking for the perfect “retirement” home. There are organizations that specialize in rescuing specific breeds and those that choose to focus on finding homes for senior pets or those with special needs. Shelters also have plenty of cats and kittens looking for their perfect home. And of course, we can’t forget about the horses, rabbits, and other animals in need of adoptive homes. When it comes to adoptable pets, there’s a perfect match out there for everyone — you just have to look.

But even with more people choosing adoption, there are still many myths and stereotypes that are preventing some people from considering adoption. With over 6.5 million animals entering shelters every year, shelters and rescues are already struggling to help every pet find the home they deserve. And sadly, an estimated 1.5 million animals are still losing their lives every year because not enough people are choosing adoption. To help increase adoption rates, people are working to dispel the myths and break the stereotypes in hopes that potential adopters will see animals for what they are: amazing companions who want nothing more than to be loved.

1. Using Photography to Change Perceptions

Creative Photobooth Style Pictures Help Shelter Dogs Get Adopted

The Humane Society of Utah


A picture is worth a thousand words, especially when it comes to helping homeless animals find adoptive homes. Shelters rely on professional photographers and volunteers to take photos that capture each animal’s true personality, right down from their sparkling eyes to their wagging tail. Instead of an image of a sad animal in a cage, these photos help people connect with adoptive animals in a positive way.

In addition to standard adoption photos, other fun and unique photo projects help draw attention to black dogs and pit bull terrier-type dogs, both of which are often overlooked in shelters. One shelter in Utah even used a photo booth to capture hilarious and endearing photos of adoptable dogs, which were then shared on their Facebook page.

2. Sharing Inspiring Adoption Stories

Everyone loves a “feel good” story, especially when that story involves an animal. Perhaps some of the most heartfelt are those of animals who have had a rough start, but ended up with an incredible life after being adopted. But not every story needs a sad beginning or a heroic ending to make an impact. All stories help people see that shelter animals aren’t all “damaged” or “have something wrong with them,”  which are two misconceptions people often associate with shelter pets. When people see stories about people enjoying life’s adventures with their adopted pet, it can inspire them to think about adopting a pet of their own. Some adopters have even published books featuring their furry companion, or taken their adopted pets on epic road trips to help promote pet adoption.

3. Establishing Bonds with Shelter Pets

Senior Cats for Senior Citizens

Hearts That Purr 


Some animals can have trouble showing their true personality in a shelter environment, especially if they are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or cooped up if they’re high-energy. When potential adopters see animals acting withdrawn or too rambunctious, it can deter them from adopting. To help fix this, some shelters have created programs that get dogs and cats out of shelters and into environments where people can interact with them. Running buddy programs pair energetic dogs with local runners, and prison programs benefit both animals and humans by pairing dogs with inmates who help teach them basic obedience skills to increase their chance of adoption.

Other organizations bring dogs and cats to visit senior living facilities, children’s hospitals, and other places where humans might need companionship or a pick-me-up. There’s even a hotel in North Carolina that has adoptable pets living in its lobby, allowing adoptable pets to interact with guests who can then apply to adopt the dogs.

How You Can Help Shelter Animals

Lead image source: Pixabay