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Dog ownership in America is more popular than ever, with an estimated 45 million U.S. households currently making room for at least one canine companion. But when it comes to acquiring a dog, only about one out of four owners are choosing to adopt from a shelter. Why? Experts have observed that part of the problem may be persistent misperceptions about shelter pets — and about shelters themselves.
Too often, people think of shelter dogs as “wild card” animals with little or no available information about their history. They might worry about behavior problems, health issues, or a lack of available dogs within a certain age or breed group. The truth is that today’s shelters are likely to provide medical and behavioral information for adoptable pets, and also work directly with prospective adopters to help ensure the right match in terms of breed, age, or disposition.
With ongoing support from Purina ONE, several of the nation’s brightest pet welfare organizations have been working to dispel myths about shelters and shelter pets. Their smart programs not only drive adoption, but they also showcase the quality of care, feeding, and evaluation shelters provide for homeless pets.
“People think shelter animals are damaged somehow, they’re broken, they all have a behavior problem, and that’s why they don’t live with their families anymore — and that’s really wrong,” says CJ Bentley, Director of Operations for the Detroit-based Michigan Humane Society (MHS). She explains how human circumstances such as financial strain, moving to a new home, and other lifestyle changes can land a dog in the shelter just as often as behavioral concerns.
Regardless of the reason why a pet enters the shelter, MHS has developed a range of forward-thinking programs to help make sure that they find a new home as quickly and confidently as possible. For example, a team of more than 1,500 volunteers gets the same level of training as paid staff, ensuring that everyone is equally equipped to meet the needs of pets and engage with prospective adopters.
Partnering with Purina ONE is another way MHS is working to amplify the difference it makes for pets awaiting adoption. MHS Chief Marketing Officer Michael Robbins says getting quality food is especially critical for dogs and cats in a shelter environment where they may be more stressed than pets in a home. “Not only does it have to be good for them, it has to be food that they want to eat. Making sure they eat regularly and have a food that has a great appeal to them, in addition to being nutritious, is a core part of our partnership with Purina.”
To highlight the visible differences good nutrition can make, Purina ONE is inviting dog owners everywhere to participate in the 28-Day Challenge. In less than one month, they may see improvements in their pets’ energy level, coat condition, dental health, and digestibility, among other aspects. It’s one small change that can make a big difference.
Sign up for the Purina ONE 28-Day Challenge now and see the difference Purina ONE can make.
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