Top 7 Reasons to Adopt a Pet (And My Adoption Story)
7 Reasons to Adopt From a Shelter or Rescue
- Costs for you are reduced—most shelters and rescues already vaccinate their dogs or cats. Usually, they spay or neuter the feline or canine, too. This means no expensive veterinary bills for you.
- Help put the “bad guys” out of business—some breeders use a female canine to produce many offspring until she cannot. Her puppies are sold by some pet stores. This adult female dog is often abandoned or put in a shelter. By getting a dog at the shelter, you are helping to reduce the number of unwanted dogs in the country. At the same time, you are helping to end “puppy mills.”
- You have a pet which is probably “house trained.” If you choose a pet which is older, then the pet probably is housebroken; this means the new member of your family knows to potty outside. You may be able to train your pet with more commands as well.
- Dogs have “friendly genes." Research has shown dogs have genes which helped them become domesticated. These are known as “friendly” genes. (A link to the research is below.)
- Pets can be good for your mental health. Research has shown that when a good match exists between an owner and dog or cat, the person tends to be happier. There could be a psychological advantage to owning a pet.
- You are helping shelters and rescues save more animals. When you adopt an animal from one of these groups, more space is then available for other dogs or cats that may need help.
- You are saving an animal’s life. Opening your home to a new pet avoids the need for the animal to be put to sleep. Not only do you wind up with a new family member, but you will have a pet that can be loyal and fun. Pets are always a source of funny stories and touching conversations.
My Adoption Story: Meet Love
That’s my dog, Love, in the photo. She’s spunky and feisty. She is a constant companion, sitting in my lap, following me around, and basically telling me when to give her treats. Big sounds frighten her—thunder will make her shake and hide—that’s expected. I pick her up in my arms and talk soothingly to her during those times.
My Rat Terrier/Chihuahua mix is not a coward, though. She thinks she’s the biggest dog on the planet. Within the safety of our fenced yard, she will chase motorcycles, trucks, and giant dogs without fear as they pass on the road. After enduring her life experiences, I guess I would want to defend what’s mine as well. But Love is secure here—we love her.
Apparently, some people didn’t. Love was frequently found running around on the streets in the town. She was in and out of the county shelter. Eventually, a rescue gave her a temporary home. Later, we discovered she had a litter at one time. I always imagined she was looking for her puppies when she was wandering her town. Now, she has a permanent home and never has to walk around on the streets. Unfortunately, other animals aren’t as lucky.
The Problem of Abandoned Animals
When animals wind up as strays or at shelters, human problems are the most common cause. People may abandon dogs or cats. Owners may move to places where pets are not allowed. Or sometimes, owners of pets may die, leaving them homeless. These animals become strays, needing a new home.
Yet, often shelters and rescues don’t have enough space for these new arrivals. This situation has resulted in almost three million cats and dogs being euthanized annually according to the Humane Society of the United States. In fact, nine out of ten strays are not neutered or spayed when they arrive at shelters. The shelters and rescues work to control such population explosions by limiting the number of fertile unwanted animals in the community. Most of these groups prefer to find cats, dogs, and other animals places to live rather than euthanize them.
Nevertheless, cats and dogs remain popular as pets. According to a Gallup Poll, approximately 45 percent of Americans own a dog, and about 30 percent of Americans have cats. If you are considering a pet, visit your local shelter or rescue and support their work. If you are choosing to adopt from a shelter or a rescue here is some important information about what they do.
What's the Difference Between Shelters and Rescues?
- Shelters: Shelters usually keep animals on site. Shelters also seek foster homes for these animals. Most shelters are mainly funded by the local government. They are also called “pounds.” They may be a “kill” shelter or “no kill” shelter.
- Rescues: Rescues must find foster homes for their animals because they do not usually have enough space for them on site. Rescue groups are primarily funded through donations. They are normally staffed by volunteers. Some rescues may favor a particular type of dog, like golden retrievers.
If you do not own a pet, what is your main reason?
A Love Story
Admittedly, I was hesitant to acquire a new dog two years ago. We had two, and I thought that was enough. My wife and I agreed, however, our oldest dog wouldn’t live too much longer because of kidney problems. I agreed we should look around, but I hoped not to find a new dog. That soon changed.
We were visited by Karen Hall, who has a nonprofit group called Farm Friends Rescue. While I went to stretch out across my bed, I heard Karen and my wife laughing and having a good time with “Ruby,” a Rat Terrier mix. The dog sounded happy and was very playful. I simply ignored it all. I was drifting off to sleep, enjoying my afternoon.
All of a sudden, I was receiving a big wet kiss. There were four little paws on my chest, and I could feel the vibrations from her tail wagging with the force of a gale wind. I was startled, to say the least. I started laughing and rubbing her.
After a few moments, she jumped down off the bed, waiting for me to follow her. She led me back to the den with haste. Once we were all in the den, I realized Ruby was greeting me, asking me if she could stay. I figured the little dog was telling me that she claimed me and wanted me to love her.
I said, “Her name isn’t Ruby. After the way she introduced herself to me, we should call her Love.” That’s how she received her name, and the name fits.
Today, she is my little 15-pound buddy. She lets me know when the other dogs need to go out or come inside. Love enjoys a good rub and she likes my singing. She is a joyful soul. I cherish her dearly. The time I give to her is an investment in a friendship
Perhaps, you can create your own love story with a new pet. (A link to the Shelter Pet Project is provided below so you can find a shelter near you.) Whether you adopt a cat or dog, below are ways you can help these animals.
Where do you plan to obtain your next pet?
How You Can Help
- Donate when appropriate. Shelters may need towels, blankets, and other items for pets. They may need pet food as well. If possible, give some of your earnings to shelters or rescues. Such donations may be tax deductible.
- Work with local governments and law enforcement to help stop pet abandonment and abuse when you notice it.
- Share photos of pets you have to encourage others to adopt. Post pictures on the internet of animals needing homes. Or write an article for everyone to view with photos of your pet.
- Volunteer. Animals may need a ride to the veterinarian or to new foster homes.
- Talk with your family and friends about adoption. Educate them on shelters and rescues. Encourage them to get involved.
- Engage in fundraisers for relocation, identification, and evacuation of animals after natural disasters strike. Some states have laws related to this subject with regard to service and companion animals, but more funds are needed. Information may be obtained from local shelters or government entities.
- Americans and Their Pets | Gallup. Retrieved September 10, 2017 from: http://www.gallup.com/poll/25969/americans-their-pets.aspx.
- The Shelter Pet Project | Adopt A Pet. Retrieved September 12, 2017 from: https://theshelterpetproject.org/.
- These genes may be why dogs are so friendly | Science News. Retrieved September 10, 2017 from: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/these-genes-may-be-why-dogs-are-so-friendly.
- Top Reasons to Adopt a Pet: The Humane Society of the United States. Retrieved September 10, 2017 from: http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/adopt/tips/top_reasons_adopt.html.