Bringing home a new pet is incredibly exciting. Adopting a pet from a shelter or rescue group is not only exciting, but it’s truly a feel-good experience as well. Every day, many dogs and cats are euthanized in shelters simply because they don’t have safe places to call home. By adopting, it means that each time you look into your pet’s eyes, you can feel good knowing that you truly did save a life.
Adopting pets has become more and more popular and accessible, and there are now many different ways to find the right adoptable pet for your family. City and county animal shelters, nonprofit shelters and rescue groups are full of pets who lost their homes for any number of reasons. The most common reasons are:
Found as a stray
Someone losing a home or job
Unwanted behavior from the pet
Unplanned litters of puppies or kittens
Feeling like there is not enough time to care for the pet properly
Health problems in an aging pet
For these reasons, right now there are millions of great pets at shelters and with rescue groups waiting for someone to choose them. That’s why adopting an animal is a great way to add a new pet to your family.
Common Myths About Adoption
I Don' Know What I am Getting
There may in fact be more information available about an adoptable pet than one from a breeder or pet store. If the pet is at a shelter, the staff or volunteers may be able to tell you what he or she is like. You can also ask about the health and behavioral evaluations the pet has undergone since arriving at the shelter. Many shelters and rescues utilize fosters for the animals prior to them going up for adoption. This is helpful because the foster can provide first hand information about how the pet interacted in their home with other pets, other people, children, etc. You can gain insight into the personality of the pet.
They Aren't Purebred
Unless you’re a breeder or are looking for a professional show dog, mixed breed dogs can be an excellent choice. They are generally free of genetic or behavioral problems that are typical of some pure breeds, like hip dysplasia. Mixed breed dogs are also very unique. Since they don't follow strict breed standards, they often have incredible characteristics not found in purebreds. If you ever want to find out exactly what makes up the mixed breed dog, there are several DNA tests that you can order online. Most require a simple cheek swab.
They Are Too Old
Adopting a puppy can be an attractive idea — you get to start out with a four-legged blank slate, and raise it to adulthood. However, people often focus on the “cute” part and forget the reality of raising a puppy: It can be just as intense and difficult as raising a child, and it’s also a full time job.
You can also never be absolutely sure with a puppy what you’ll wind up with as an adult. You may want a medium size dog and the shelter thought that the puppy you've adopted was mostly beagle. What happens, then, when the other part turns out to be a Great Dane and the dog you expected to weigh 30 pounds tops out at 150? That is one hefty food bill every month!
If you don’t have a lot of time to spend on training, an adult dog around 1 or 2 years old can be ideal. They usually come already housebroken, they know some tricks, and they’re used to people. Don’t discount senior dogs, which are those aged 7 years or more. Senior dogs can be ideal for lower-energy households, or in situations where you don’t want to commit for ten or fifteen years but still want a loving companion.
Reasons To Consider Adoption
You Will Save A Life
Each year, sadly, millions of adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized in the United States, simply because too many pets come into shelters and too few people consider adoption when looking for a pet. The number of euthanized animals could be reduced dramatically if more people adopted pets instead of buying them. When you adopt, you save a loving animal by making them part of your family and open up shelter space for another animal who might desperately need it.
It's One Way To Fight Puppy Mills
Puppy mills are factory-style breeding facilities that put profit above the welfare of dogs. Animals from puppy mills are housed in terribly poor conditions with improper medical care, and are often very sick and behaviorally troubled as a result. The moms of these puppies are kept in cages to be bred over and over for years, without human companionship and with little hope of ever joining a family. After they're no longer profitable, breeding dogs are simply discarded. The quality of life is not what any pet should have to endure.
Pets Are Good For Your Health
Not only do animals give you unconditional love, but they have been shown to be psychologically, emotionally and physically beneficial to their human counterparts. Caring for a pet can provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment and lessen feelings of loneliness. And when you adopt, you can also feel proud about helping an animal in need!
You Will Save Money
If you plan to adopt a puppy, the first year of their life can be one of the most expensive. Shelters often microchip, spay, neuter and vaccinate the animals that come into their care. This saves you a lot of money because you don’t have to pay for the procedures yourself and it ensures the pet you are taking home is healthy. Also, the prices of adopting a pet from a shelter are often a lot lower than the rates charged by breeders.
The Bottom Line
Pets bring joy to millions of people every day. Whether you head to a local shelter or search online for a group that rescues dogs of your favorite breed, the right pet is out there for you. After all, the best kind of pet is one that is adopted. If you need help finding a reputable shelter or rescue, you could consider calling a local Veterinarian. Most Veterinarians and their staff will have valuable information regarding shelters and rescues in your area. Published by Dr. Mason Romero, DVM