The truth about shelter animals

What you should know before adopting an animal from Animal Humane Society


Bringing a new pet into your home is a big decision — one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Minnesotans are lucky to live in state with so many options for animal adoption. Before you adopt a new pet from a shelter, there are a few things you should know.

They have a history. Every animal does.

Every animal has a story. There isn’t a single dog, cat, or critter in a shelter without a unique tale all his or her own. These stories are wide and varied. Many animals were surrendered by loving families who could no longer care for them, while others were neglected or mistreated. Some were strays wandering the streets of our community all by themselves, others arrived on transport with their littermates happily bouncing in tow.

Some of the animals we care for have their story written all over their body, and some show absolutely no signs of their past. Every animal is completely unique, but they all have one thing in common.

No matter where they came from — and no matter what they’ve been through — AHS gives every animal a second chance.


Their past doesn’t define them.

People love stories. Stories move us, inspire us, and help us understand the world. So, it’s no surprise that we hold on to the stories we hear about our pets. But animals’ brains don’t work the same way. They don’t dwell on the past or hold onto judgments. Still, there are some instances where a past trauma can impact an animal’s behavior.

The resiliency of animals is inspiring. We’ve seen incredible transformations inside our shelter walls and heard of hundreds more from grateful adopters. We’ve seen animals who’ve suffered abuse come happily bouncing up to every person they meet, and puppies who’ve known a lifetime of love cower away from gentle hands. Just like humans, animals have unique personalities and traits.

That’s why at AHS, we treat each individual animal with the care they need when they come to us. We work slowly with scared puppies and allow abused dogs to be happy-go-lucky. Their care doesn’t need to match their past, it just has to meet their needs today and help them thrive.  

Foster kitten

They’re not broken.

We can’t say it enough. Shelter animals are not broken. You can find healthy, vibrant, young, and purebred animals in rescues and shelters. You can also find shy, elderly animals — some with only three legs or one eye. But the thing about these animals is that they aren’t broken either. What makes them unique is exactly what makes them whole.

Each one is worthy of love and has the potential to be your new best friend — there’s nothing broken about that.

Their gratitude is unmatched.

When you bring a shelter animal home, something incredible happens. You become their person — their family. There’s nothing like the moment a shelter animal realizes they’re home.

Sometimes it happens in our adoption lobby, when a young pitbull mix leaves his kennel run behind him, eyes full of hope and tail wagging furiously.


Other times it happens on the car ride home, when an anxious, old lab feels the sun on his face coming through the window and finally lays his head down on the back seat to rest.

And sometimes it happens after being home for days or weeks, and suddenly your new cat becomes your shadow, your bedwarmer, and your alarm clock.

The gratitude we receive from our adopted pets is unlike anything else. It’s completely unmatched — except for maybe the gratitude you’ll also feel for them.

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For caring, compassionate advice and resources to address all your animal concerns.

Contact the Pet Helpline