New research from not-for-profit organisation Waldo’s Friends reveals one in six Australians believe shelter animals are antisocial and one in four wouldn’t adopt one. 

Certain dog breeds, such as Bulldogs, Boxers, and German Shepherds, are most likely to be left behind at shelters due to a negative stigma that they’re challenging to handle, aggressive and prone to violence. 

Sasha Gusain, Founder of Waldo’s Friends, urges Australians to look past negative stereotypes and offer a loving home to animals in need.

“Regardless of their breed, rescue pets can be as loving and affectionate as any other animal and ultimately, a pet’s behaviour is dependent on their owner’s personality and the environment they are in. 

“When you adopt a dog from a shelter, some of its traits are linked to its genetics, but when you put the rescue animal into a new environment where it is loved, stimulated and socialised, then the animal’s personality is likely to change and reflect its human’s personality,” she said. 

Additional research from the National Centre for Biotechnology Information in the US suggests dogs adopted from shelters show positive behavioural changes with adopted into a new home, with 76 per cent becoming more active, excitable and playful and 59 per cent displaying decreased aggression. 

Another study from Michigan State University showed a correlation between the personality traits of owners and animals. For instance, sociable owners tended to rate their dogs as excitable and active, while humans prone to negative emotions rated them as fearful and less responsive to training. 

Erin Parnell, a regular rescue animal adopter, said the first time she went to an animal shelter, she noticed the animals there were fearful and anxious, especially those breeds often perceived as violent or aggressive.

Instead of walking away, Parnell decided to open her home to numerous cats and dogs who were unwanted and languishing away in the shelter. 

“When I first got my Bull Terrier named Bunce, he took some time to adjust to his new environment, but eventually, he was able to calm down and relax after realising he was home. Sometimes, he would even sleep for most of the day. Bunce was the most amazing dog and pet to myself and my kids.

“Instead of determining a dog’s personality by its looks, I’d encourage future pet owners to look beyond the stereotypes and give different rescues and breeds the second chance they deserve,” said Erin.

Rescue shelters can now list their animals on Waldo’s Friends’ new Pet Finder service, allowing potential pet owners to apply directly to adopt or foster animals in one place. 

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