Houston animal shelters are full of bilingual pets  

Recently it was National Pet Preparedness Month, which aims to prepare pet owners in the event of disasters. It is important to ensure that your pet is up-to-date with their vaccinations and microchipped. It is also important to your pet is safe otherwise they may end up at an animal shelter.

Animal shelters are places where pets are placed when the owners can’t look after them anymore, or where animals that have been rescued from inhabitable conditions go to. Animal shelters in Houston are no exception to this and have looked after hundreds of pets.

Animal shelters aren’t all doom and gloom, some animals get to find forever homes with new owners. And trainers at some Houston animal shelters believe that some of the animals in their shelters are bilingual. Which is pretty incredible if you think about it.

Animal shelters

Did you know that there are approximately 6.5 million companion animals that enter US animal shelters every year?

It is thought that there are 350 languages spoken across the United States, so statistically some of the animals that come through the shelters respond to commands in different languages. Which is something that Houston animal shelter trainers have experienced first-hand.

Spanish, Vietnamese, French, German, and Hungarian are some of the languages that trainers have experienced the animals to understand.

A spokesperson from aboutpetsandpaws.com said, “It is not uncommon for animals to have their own personalities, qualities, and even languages and dialects that they understand and respond to. Which is why animal shelters can experience pets from the same area who respond to commands in certain languages and not others.”

The Harris County Animal Shelter

The Harris County Animal Shelter say that they see a diversity in pets and the languages that the animals respond to reflect the diversity of the Harris County. It is believed that there are over 145 languages spoken in Houston.

Kerry McKeel, who works at the shelter, said that she doesn’t know the exact number of bilingual and non-English-speaking pets at the shelter because they don’t specifically track this. The shelter receives 18,000 animals each year, so it wouldn’t be possible to keep a record of the demographic and the languages they understand of all the animals.

However, McKeel believes that the most common language after English that the pets at the shelter understand is Spanish. She states that this is something she has learnt from the interactions in the lobby that she has observed and from the training that the team does.

Unfortunately the shelter isn’t able to retrain the animals in English, so they specifically seek pet owners who are able to find private trainers to teach the animals English commands. This will help the animals to understand commands in English and ensure the new pet owner can communicate with their pet.

Rehoming pets

Rehoming pets regardless of their language understanding gives animals an opportunity at being happy once again. Some animal shelters who believe the animals don’t respond to English commands will be able to give you advice on how to help your pet understand.