Thousands of cats and dogs are stuck in shelters because would-be owners have misconceptions about pet adoption.
A survey of 2,000 adults revealed 41% have doubts about adopting a pet for the first time.
Top concerns include believing you will have to deal with a pet’s behavioural issues (54%), will not know the medical history (40%) and they will be constantly ill (22%).
Other concerns raised by potential pet owners include the belief that you won’t know what you are getting with a rescue pet (40 %), will only be able to get older animals (15%) and the cost involved in adopting a pet (22%).
Pedigree and Whiskas commissioned the research as part of their joint adoption mission to end pet homelessness by 2030, and have teamed up with GBBO winner and rescue dog owner Candice Brown to help debunk misconceptions about adoption.
Rescue dog owner and Great British Bake Off winner, Candice Brown, said: “According to the research, more than a fifth of adults admitted that they wouldn’t consider rehoming a pet from an animal shelter, while four in 10 would only adopt a young cat or dog.
"I adopted my dog Sybil, and she has bought more joy to my life than I could ever have imagined. The process of adoption was simple and straightforward and it’s enhanced my life for the better.
“There are thousands of dogs that need loving, forever homes, but are held up in shelters because potential owners are preoccupied with worries of costs, time constraints and other things.
"The truth is that any pet is a big commitment, regardless of whether it is adopted or bought from a breeder, but if you are looking to expand your family with an animal, adoption from a shelter is the most rewarding way to go about it. Adopt, don’t shop.”
The study found nearly seven in 10 of those polled would consider adopting a pet from an animal shelter with giving them a chance for a new home being the top reason for making the step.
Other reasons for adopting a pet for the first time include saving an animal’s life (60%), wanting to provide unconditional love (53%), and getting a new companion (45%).
A dog was the most favourable choice of animal to adopt, followed by a cat and a rabbit.
Of those, polled via OnePoll, 47% are already experienced pet owners with 42% previously adopting a pet.
While one in five has brought or adopted a pet since the start of the Covid-19 lockdown.
More than seven in 10 (72%) of those who have already adopted thought the process was far easier than they'd originally expected.
And six in 10 found adopting a pet to be a very rewarding experience with 53% delighted to have a new companion in their life.
Adopting a pet also provided a positive distraction from other things in life while also reducing their stress levels for three in 10 adults.
And over three quarters (76%) said it was a good experience and would definitely do it again.
Dr Tammie King, pet behaviourist from Mars Petcare’s Waltham Petcare Science Institute added, added: “It’s heart-breaking to think of the thousands of dogs and cats sat in shelters just waiting for their forever-home, simply because these misconceptions around shelter animals persist.
"Pets are given up for adoption for all sorts of reasons, so the idea that all shelter animals have behavioural or medical issues is incorrect.
“It’s also important to remember that, with the right care and training, a pets’ behaviour can be changed, and shelters have experts and behaviourists on standby to provide that support both within and beyond life in a shelter.
“Taking on a pet is a major life choice and requires time and research to ensure you are fully prepared for the responsibility. Many people have an overall rewarding experience from pet adoption, whether they’re an experienced pet owner or simply making the step for the first time.”
In partnership with the Association of Dogs and Cats Homes (ADCH), The Adoption Mission, championed by PEDIGREE® and WHISKAS®, is taking the first steps to end pet homelessness in the UK.
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It is working directly with British animal shelters to help encourage more potential pet owners to consider adoption as well as better equipping shelter staff with the tools and resources they need to facilitate more adoptions.
For more information on pet adoption, and to find your nearest shelter, visit: The Pedigree Adoption Mission | Pedigree