Sometimes I get a funny reaction when new acquaintances meet my two dogs, Chewie and Miles. The look of surprise and incredulous response – “You mean she came from the streets? He came from the pound?!”
So many people have the misconception that rescued dogs are less than other dogs. Are children less than other children because they came through the foster home system or are raised in single parent homes? Are the children that come from the “perfect” set of parents better than other children? We can all think of examples of the hard-luck children that make good and the children with everything going for them making a mess of their lives. So why do we assume homeless pets are less than other pets? I’d like to help set the record straight: there are many reasons to adopt a shelter pet.
1) You will Save Money
Adopting a pet from a shelter can cost a lot less than buying a pet at the pet store or from a breeder, especially when taking into account the fees for neutering and vaccination. Beyond the medical care, shelters provide education about how to care for pets, how to introduce your new pet to your other animals, how to deal with behavioral problems, etc., so you also get an entire support system for free.
2) You Will Get a Healthy Pet
Since most shelters give their animals vaccinations, feed them healthy diets, and neuter them before adoption, these pets are happy and healthy. Shelters also pay close attention to the temperament of the animals, in order to match these pets with the most appropriate owners possible. Sometimes pet owners take on pet ownership before they are ready, without proper circumstances or knowledge, or without the necessary commitment, but through adoption these pets get a new chance to find great owners who will commit to keeping them fit and content.
3) You’ll Get a Great Companion
Pets really do become our best friends. They make us smile and they love us unconditionally. Owning pets has even been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as helping with loneliness and depression. And all these great benefits have nothing to do with a pet’s breeding.
4) You Won’t Be Supporting Puppy Mills or Pet Stores
Puppy mills have received a lot of bad press lately, and rightly so. These mills put profits above the welfare of the dogs, which means that the dogs are treated cruelly and often kept in cages. Pet stores buy these puppy mill dogs, and many people who buy from the stores are not aware that they are supporting these horrible places, but by adopting a pet you can be sure that you are actually supporting a great cause for great animals.
5) You are Saving a Life
Sometimes we forget that most of the animals that become homeless are great pets that had less than stellar owners or the owners had to face insurmountable obstacles that made keeping their pet impossible. The circumstances can vary greatly but the bottom line is – rescued pets are wonderful animals that deserve love and a chance to live as much as any pet.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, between three and four million dogs and cats are euthanized each year because people are not able to keep their pets, shelters are not able to house them all, and not enough people adopt animals. By adopting these pets, which have been left by their owners through no fault of their own, we can save them from being euthanized.
It is a common misconception that shelter pets have bad breeding, but do not assume that pound pooches do not have purebred breeding, as often the dogs that breeders cannot sell end up in shelters. If you really want a certain type of dog, you can also check out local rescue leagues that tend to specialize in certain breeds. And do not forget that one of the best adoptions is the older, wiser, already-potty trained pet. Sure, we hear that puppies are more readily accepted by the pets already in the household, but bringing in new older pets is do-able. Very do-able. It just takes a little know-how and patience. If you don’t have the patience to acquaint stranger pets to each other then you certainly don’t have the patience to raise a puppy.
Unless your purpose for having a dog in your life is to have a show dog, or to produce purebred puppies to sell to worthy pet parents, I strongly believe you should look into adoption from the shelter first. And if you still feel purebreds or breeder dogs are smarter, just take a look around at the great work former shelter pets are doing. Shelter pets have been rescued to go on to do great work for performers, the military, the justice system, and as therapy animals – just to name a few examples. Granted, breeding can help accentuate specific genes for certain desired traits but environment has a lot to do with molding a pet or a person.
When a pet is given love and a chance, MAGNIFICENT things can happen! No matter where they come from.