Don't Touch the Dogs in a Shelter

Why It’s Not a Good Idea to Touch the Dogs in a Shelter

Do you want to touch the dogs in an animal shelter? Yes. Should you, NO! When visiting an animal shelter, petting all the cute dogs you see without taking some preventive measures is not good for the dogs. Petting or touching one dog, then another, then another, is one way that disease spreads from dog to dog at an animal shelter. Most shelters are, by law, not allowed to adopt sick animals, so keeping the dogs healthy is a big priority. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before and after petting or touching any dog in an animal shelter.

It is generally not recommended to touch dogs in an animal shelter indiscriminately when considering adoption for several reasons:

  1. Safety for You and the Animals: Some shelter animals may have behavioral issues or be frightened due to their environment. Approaching them without understanding their temperament and guidance from shelter staff can result in bites or scratches, posing a risk to you and the animal.
  2. Stress Reduction: Shelters can be stressful environments for animals. Unwanted or unsolicited handling can add to their stress and anxiety, making them less likely to exhibit their true personalities.
  3. Respect for Boundaries: Just as humans have personal boundaries, animals do too. Approaching them without permission can be intrusive and may cause discomfort. Respecting their space is important until you better understand their comfort level.
  4. Infection Control: Shelters are cautious about disease transmission. Touching multiple animals without proper sanitation can spread diseases or parasites between animals and humans.
  5. Behavioral Assessment: Shelter staff typically assess the behavior and temperament of animals. They can provide valuable insights into each animal’s personality, compatibility with other pets, and suitability for your living situation. It’s best to ask staff for guidance and information about specific animals.

Instead of immediately touching animals, consider the following when visiting an animal shelter for adoption:

  1. Observe: Spend time observing the animals in their enclosures. Watch their behavior, body language, and interactions with others.
  2. Ask Questions: Shelter staff and volunteers know the animals’ backgrounds, temperaments, and needs. Ask questions about the animals you are interested in.
  3. Scheduled Interactions: Many shelters offer scheduled meet-and-greet sessions or playdates where you can interact with animals under controlled conditions. This allows you to get to know the animal in a safe and supervised environment.
  4. Respect Their Space: If you see an animal that interests you, let the shelter staff know, and they can assist with the introduction process.
  5. Consider Professional Advice: If you have concerns about a pet’s behavior or compatibility, consult a professional animal behaviorist or trainer for guidance.

By taking a thoughtful and cautious approach to adopting a dog from a shelter, you can ensure the safety and well-being of both you and the animal while increasing the chances of a successful adoption.