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Top 7 Reasons to Adopt a Pet (and My Adoption Story)

Tim Truzy has a small pack of happy and healthy rescued dogs.

This is "Love," one of my adopted pets.

This is "Love," one of my adopted pets.

7 Reasons to Adopt From a Shelter or Rescue

  1. It's cheaper. Most shelters and rescues already vaccinate their dogs or cats. Usually, they spay or neuter the feline or canine, too. This means fewer expensive veterinary bills for you.
  2. It will help put the “bad guys” out of business. Some breeders use a female canine to produce offspring right up until the point where she can't anymore, at which point the 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.”
  3. You might get a pet that is already “house trained.” If you choose a pet that 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Dogs have “friendly genes." Research has shown that dogs have genes that helped them become domesticated. These are known as “friendly” genes.

The Problem of Abandoned Animals

When animals wind up as strays or at shelters, humans 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 often 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.
I got my spunky dog Love from a shelter.

I got my spunky dog Love from a shelter.

My Adoption Story: Meet Love

That’s my dog Love in the photo. She’s spunky and feisty—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 of 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.

My Love basking in the sun and chewing on a bone.

My Love basking in the sun and chewing on a bone.

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. Visit the Shelter Pet Project online to find a shelter near you. Whether you adopt a cat or dog, below are ways you can help these animals.

How to Help Your Local Animal Shelter

  • 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.

A Few Books to Read about Pet Adoption

Patent, D. H., & Muñoz, W. (2013). Saving Audie: A pit bull puppy gets a second chance. New York: Walker Childrens.

Rose-Solomon, D. (2018). What to expect when adopting a dog: A guide to successful dog adoption for every family. Santa Monica, CA: SOP3 Publishing.

Saunders, K. (2009). The adopted dog bible: Your one-stop resource for choosing, training, and caring for your sheltered or rescued dog. New York: Collins Living.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2017 Tim Truzy


Tim Truzy (author) from U.S.A. on July 29, 2018:

Thanks, Flourish,

What you are doing is really special. My wife really wants ten or ten thousand dogs here. We realize we probably wouldn't be able to give that many animals the time and love we would like. I guess that's a little disappointing for both of us.

But taking time to control and take care of cats makes you really special because they need loving souls like you to be there. Thank you very, very, much. I'm glad they bring you joy, too. thinking of adding a feline to our family.

Much respect,



FlourishAnyway from USA on July 29, 2018:

These are such good reasons to adopt. I have 7 cats, most elderly and several with disabilities. All were strays from the neighborhood that people left behind when they moved. We feed neighborhood cats on our back porch and spay/neuter anyone who eats here as a free gift to them and humanity. Some decide to stay, and that's okay. They make my life more complete and I could not imagine being without them. Luckily, I have a big house.