North Texas Daily

Misinformation about pets leads to unnecessary loss

Misinformation about pets leads to unnecessary loss

Misinformation about pets leads to unnecessary loss
September 23
12:00 2022

When a person considers adopting a pet, they are usually quick to judge their options. The future owner evaluates each candidate based on their appearance and personality. However, superstitions and assumptions have permeated the minds of people for decades, influencing new pet owners to steer clear of specific breeds, fur colors and eye colors due to its reputation. 

The stereotypes are all too familiar: pit bulls are dangerous, black cats bring bad luck and big dogs mean vicious dogs. All of these and more have been spread through word of mouth and media portrayals. When thinking of house pets typically dogs or cats come to mind, and those assumptions are quick to follow.

What people fail to recognize is the impact they have with their seemingly harmless comment and fallacies concerning particular breeds. For instance, pit bulls have been unceasingly bred to become fighting dogs for centuries. News reports continue to exaggerate their headlines, including the word “pit bull” without identifying the distinct breed and providing additional background information. Accounting for this, there has been increased criticism within media for underreporting dog attacks other than pit bulls.

The majority of dog attacks can be prevented by recognizing the body language of a dog. Behavior issues can also be curtailed with proper training and treatment. Yet of 1.2 million dogs euthanized annually, 40 percent are pit bulls and 75 percent of community shelters euthanize the breed upon receiving them.

Most of this doesn’t stem from any real danger, but from a perceived stereotype that leads to unnecessary inhumanity. 

Black cats suffer a similar fate, as they are associated with multiple superstitions which include transforming into witches, bringing bad luck and being discerned as a devilish entity. Though the accusations with roots in medieval Europe, animosity persists in modern-day society. To worsen the situation, these inhabitants perceived black cats to be a witch’s companion, executing anyone who had a black cat.

Since the superstitions revolving around black cats persist through present-day circumstances, euthanizations run rampant. Some shelters even fear black cats will be used as Halloween decorations, so they stop promoting the adoption of black cats throughout October to prevent any incidents from occurring. 

In a study conducted by an urban animal shelter in Kentucky, black cats had the highest euthanization rate of 74.6 percent and the lowest rate of adoption. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates that from 2015 to 2018, 3.2 million cats were admitted into shelters and approximately 860,000 were euthanized. 

The harsh consequences of misconceptions and stigma extend far beyond just dogs and cats. Birds, rabbits and hamsters all experience similar issues based on species or fur color. The pets may have differing kinds of stigma, but all experience similar isolation and abuse solely due to their physical traits. 

Owls are not standard companions, but some pet owners are willing to accept the challenge. While the birds don’t suffer from the same social or cultural stigma other pets do, it doesn’t save them from mistreatment. Hundreds of owls were abandoned after they were hastily adopted by fans of the “Harry Potter” franchise.

Simple enthusiasm for the fantasy series led people to adopt owls, only to find them difficult to take care of. The lack of attentiveness to the birds resulted in widespread releases that damaged local ecosystems.

Misinformation centered around animals results in lower adoption rates, abandoned animals and euthanizations. Before looking for a potential pet to bring home, individuals should educate themselves on the facts, do research and evaluate the species of animal. No potential pet deserves to be thrown aside based on superficial attributes.

If you’re looking for a pet right now, don’t be afraid to pick up a black cat — there’s no bad luck in having a furry friend.

Featured Illustration by Jazmine Garcia

About Author

Ally Brown

Ally Brown

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