One thing that people are very quick to learn about me is how passionate I am about adopting homeless pets from shelters instead buying them from breeders or pet stores. When someone tells me that they are thinking of getting a dog or cat, I’m that person who responds, “Are you going to adopt? No? Here’s why you should!”
If you are already an advocate for adoption, good for you! Keep it up, and don’t be afraid to speak up in situations like I just mentioned- somebody needs to do it, and the way people learn about it is if people like us say something. If you don’t know much about adoption, or are interested in adopting a pet and want to learn more, thanks for taking the time to read this! Here are some important reasons why adoption an animal is such a good thing.
1. It saves a life
The first reason to adopt a pet is the most obvious, and for me, the most persuasive. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, approximately 6.5 million companion animals enter US shelters each year; of these, approximately 1.5 million are euthanized. This is largely due to the fact that shelters are completely overrun with animals, and are forced to euthanize so many cats and dogs in order to make room for more. If more cats and dogs were adopted out, this would make room for more pets in need of loving homes, and save the lives of the animals who would otherwise die in the shelters.
2. It gives deserving animals a second chance
It is a common misconception that the large majority of shelter animals have been surrendered because of behavioral issues, which could not be further from the truth. Many dogs and cats in shelters have no issues, and are only there because their previous owners moved and could not take their pets with them. Additionally, many dogs especially are given up because the owners did not anticipate what it would really be like to own a dog; perhaps an adorable little puppy grew up into a 100+ dog that they could not handle, or a dog has so much energy that the people do not have sufficient time to give him or her the exercise and attention that it needs. And though there might indeed be dogs and cats in the shelter who do have slight behavioral issues, the shelter workers conduct behavioral assessments of the pet before adopting them out, so that you know exactly what kind of pet you are getting.
3. It does not support puppy mills or inhumane breeding
The sad fact is that there are many irresponsible breeders out there that are producing dogs who have serious physical and/or behavioral issues in their genetic makeup; unfortunately, breeders such as these only care about making money off of the dogs, and sell the dogs regardless of their health or temperament. They typically breed for appearances alone, which results in many issues for the dog later in his or her life.
There are also horrifying breeding facilities called puppy mills which house the dogs in cramped, squalid environments, where they often live in their own excrement and don’t even have enough room to move. The puppies in these facilities often have grow up to have extreme physical and behavioral issues, not to mention the breeding females, who are forced to have litter after litter of puppies and live in these places for years. Most puppies that you find in pet stores come from places like these.
Sadly, when you purchase a dog, the sellers are often dishonest and will not tell the truth about the conditions of their facilities. Thus, buying dogs can support these horrible practices. Adopting pets from a shelter guarantees that your money is not supporting the survival of these reprehensible breeders.
4. Many shelter dogs are mixed breeds, which are much healthier than purebreds
By nature, mixed breeds have less health problems on the simple basis of genetics. They have more genetic diversity than purebred dogs, and thus are less likely to develop health problems. (Think about German Shepherds who have been bred to have those beautiful, sloping back hips. Now a breed standard, they are a major cause of hip dysplasia. There are also breeds like Golden Retrievers that are prone to cancer; if this is part of their genetic makeup and Goldens are only bred to other Golden Retrievers, it makes cancer very likely).
Though shelters still have purebreds for people who love a certain breed, they also have many mixed breeds. Adopting a mixed breed dog makes it much more likely that you will have a healthy dog. Just look at the pet insurance claims for a purebred versus a mutt!
5. You get your choice of ages and breeds
When people tell me that they want to buy a dog from a breeder rather than adopting, often the reason is that they want a specific breed and don’t think they can find the breed that they want in a shelter. However, shelters have a huge variety of purebred dog breeds. If you think back to my first point, about all the people who surrender their dogs because being a dog owner isn’t what they expected, it’s guaranteed that at least some of these people have purebred dogs. And where do these dogs end up? That’s right: in your local shelter.
There are also breed rescues for every single dog breed that you can imagine. Many times, these organizations have their dogs in foster homes, which means you can talk one-on-one with the foster parents to learn everything about the dog’s personality.
Animal shelters also have dogs of every single age, which is great because, in all honestly, puppies are not a realistic option for just anyone. No matter how cute they are, they require a lot of hard work and time. Instead, you can easily find a dog who is a little bit older and out of puppyhood, or even better, a senior pet who deserves to live out their last years in a loving home.
6. It is more economical
Adopting a pet is much cheaper than buying from a breeder; usually, the adoption fee is a maximum of several hundred dollars, compared to puppies from a breeder that can cost upwards of several thousand dollars. Adoption fees also include vaccinations and spaying/neutering, which is not included when you buy a dog. Just remember that when acquiring a pet, the cost of the pet should not be the biggest expense that you pay. Pets should be affordable so that you can afford important costs such as vet bills and quality food and supplies.
When it comes down to it, shelter pets have just as much love to give as any other animal. Next time you get a pet, please keep this in mind and think about giving a shelter pet a chance. You won’t regret it- I know I sure don’t.