If You're in the Market for a New Pet, Adopt, Don't Shop

by Sa'iyda Shabazz
Originally Published: 
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“I can’t hang out tomorrow; I adopted another dog and we have to take him to the vet.”

This was a text message I got from one of my best friends recently. She and her husband had visited a high kill shelter and they had fallen in love with a cute little dog who was set to be put down the very next day. The folks at the shelter said that he had medical issues (FYI, he got a clean bill of health from the vet) and that since he wasn’t considered highly adoptable, he would be put down to make space for another dog in need.

My friend, the compassionate animal lover that she is, was not about to see that poor, sweet dog killed through no fault of his own, so she took him home. He is the most energetic, sweet little puppy, and a wonderful addition to their family. (I would like to steal him.)

This story isn’t uncommon, so if you are in the market for a furry companion, adopting a pet is seriously one of the most best things you can do. These are animals who already have the odds stacked against them, and continue to persevere in hopes of finding their forever family. A list of statistics from the ASPCA website states that approximately 6.8 million companion pets enter animal shelters nationally every year. That is roughly 3.3 million dogs and 3.2 million cats nationwide. There are many reasons for animals who were previously owned to be relinquished to animal shelters, some of the most common are cost, behavioral issues and housing/relocation issues.

Sometimes these reasons are valid, but that doesn’t change the fact that relinquishing a pet may very well lead to their untimely demise.

According to the American Pet Products Association 2015 – 2016 report, roughly 80 percent of American homes have either a dog or a cat. The highest percentage of people got their pets via word of mouth, while 34 percent of people get their dogs from a breeder. Breeders are not an inherently bad option, especially if you have your heart set on a certain kind of purebred dog. There are a high percentage of pets who are acquired “other” ways, and that includes pet shops who often get their dogs from puppy mills and that is NOT OKAY.

Let me tell you a little something about puppy mills. THEY’RE INHUMANE. You know those PETA videos they show of chickens and pigs being cooped up in wire cages, literally stacked on top of each other? Puppy mills do the same thing, but with puppies, for the express reason of selling them to pet stores. More often than not, these places are not meeting the most basic safety and welfare regulations set forth by the USDA, despite claims otherwise. These puppies are often mistreated and neglected, and lack the most basic care and compassion. Then the stores (who do not have to disclose where they get the puppies from) turn around and make a huge profit, while the new owners often end up drowning in medical bills to save their pet.

23 percent of dogs, and 31 percent of cats, are adopted from animal shelters or humane societies. And, to be blunt, that is not enough, people. These pets are precious. They are loyal as hell. They just want to be loved. And they are worthy. They deserve a loving, caring home.

I did a quick glance at dogs available for adoption in my area of Los Angeles, and there are currently over 2000 dogs available for adoption within a 25 mile radius. 2000+ dogs in less than 25 miles. That’s way too many, folks. Do a search for your local area, and you’ll likely be quite surprised at how many animals are waiting for a home.

Did you know that 1.8 million animals in shelters are euthanized every year? I bet you didn’t. While some of them may be sick or dangerous (rare), most often it is because the shelter simply cannot continue to keep them because they are lacking in resources. This is simply unacceptable.

If you must have a dog or cat, seriously, go adopt one. You have so many options. If you don’t want to have to train a dog to follow simple commands and you want someone to sit on the couch with you and watch Netflix, you can adopt an older do. If you’re looking for a young dog to grow with you and your family, you won’t have to look very far. You can search by size, age, breed, you name it. There’s a match for you, and your family, out there.

If you are not in a position to adopt a new pet, you should consider supporting your local animal shelter. There are a myriad of ways to do so, whether it is through direct donations, volunteering services, or offering to foster animals until they find their new family.

These pets are literally sitting in a kennel waiting for their new owner to find them, and they are just as worthy of love, affection, and TLC as any other high-priced purebred or brand new puppy. So if you’re in the market for a furry family member, I would like to implore you to opt to adopt, not shop. You will literally be saving a life, and opening up a spot for another pet to have a chance to be rescued. It’s a win-win.

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