Reasons to Adopt a Shelter Pet Instead of Buying a New Puppy or Kitten

Some reasons why rescuing a shelter animal can be more rewarding than buying a puppy.

Shelter pets often get a bad rap. If you've ever seen a Shelter Pet Project commercial, link here, you probably know that sometimes good animals get into bad situations.

Not every dog in the shelter is mean or even troublesome. Sometimes they get too big or, "grow up and stop being cute." Sometimes *gasp* they're failed gifts to irresponsible owners. Sometimes owners genuinely do mean well, but situations arise (a particular sad account that I personally saw involved a man who had his dog without incident for several years before the landlord and the pet owner stopped getting along.)

The simple fact is that things happen, and pets sometimes get stuck in the middle of situations that they cannot control.

I worked at the Randolph County Humane Society this summer and met a lot of wonderful and friendly dogs. I'm also the proud aunt of a shelter rescue named Petey.

I've had the privilege to work with a lot of very kind people and the displeasure of seeing a lot of uncaring "owners" throwing pregnant cats out in the parking lot without stopping, seeing crates of mangy sick dogs confiscated from owners, and cooing little pups rescued from a hot car on a summer day. All that being said, I'm a big supporter of adopting and rescuing.

So here are my top five reasons you should consider adopting a shelter animal before buying one!

Cost

Pets costs can add up. Adopting can alleviate some of these costs. I've personally asked about some pet store puppies, none of which were ever less than $1,000. Adopting any shelter dog, be it a purebred, a puppy, etc. is going to be way less than that. Some of these animals are already spayed or neutered by previous owners or the shelter itself.

They may also have basic shots already, (including Bordetella vaccines for incoming shelter dogs and treatments for any serious and contagious illnesses or parasites that the animals suffer from upon arriving.) A good shelter will not try to sucker you into getting a very sick dog. If you're not interested in a dog's breeding papers, consider adopting instead of buying from a pet shop or breeder.

Avoid Supporting Mills

Puppies are cute. Puppy mills are not. They're dangerous. Although not all pet stores and private sellers take advantage of factory farming baby animals, the sad fact is that too many do. When sellers profit from this, they continue using such services. Mills often breed dogs to death in unhealthy conditions.

Some practice inbreeding to maintain a particular breed. When you support shelters, you're helping to provide a loving home to a needy pet and decreasing businesses to puppy mills.

Previous Training and Experience

There is nothing more frustrating about a new puppy than training: cleaning up puddles, fuming over chewed-up furniture, and finding little "presents" in your shoes are not uncommon milestones of puppy-dom. Every now and then, you have the good fortune of adopting a dog that is already house trained.

Adult dogs are wonderful for people who are looking for a friend that isn't going to be a pain the the bottom. Plus, the shelter staff should know their dogs up and down. Ask if they have any owner released pets who are well tempered and house broken. I was surprised at the number of dogs in my local shelter that were.

Support the Local Pet Population

It's not at all uncommon to see feral cats running loose, whether you live in urban areas or the country. I'll be honest, we have four cats at the moment and they all have something in common: They were all the result of irresponsible pet owners who dumped either dumped them on the side of a back road or just let their litter of kittens disperse as they may. Kitkat was picked up by my uncle and given to us, (as he already has his fair share of dumped kitties.)

Miss Ebony made the long trek up the dirt road all by herself and found us. Trouble (aka Kurry Cat) was found sitting in the creek along our road one day. Bootsie is our old girl, the result of a neighbor's pregnant cat who didn't much care for the neighbor and moved herself into my aunt's yard for good.

There are enough animals picked up by the dog catcher and dropped off at the typical animal shelter to support many of us. If we all started adopting cats and dogs from overcrowded shelters and worked on getting our current animals spayed and neutered, we could reduce the animal population significantly.

If you plan to take care of a litter of kittens, that's wonderful, but I have seen so many litters of kittens briefly enjoyed and then dumped by the same crowd of people that it hurts. There are good people who take these animals in, but there is only so much room in the world. Before you plan to bring a new crowd of animals into the world, consider how many are sitting at the shelter or pound right now waiting for a loving home!

Variety

We all live in different areas, but even in my small town, I see a lot of variety in my local shelter. They recently raised enough money to expand into a low-kill shelter. Now that there is a little room, they have a larger variety of special guests: big dogs, little dogs, puppies, adults, seniors, kittens and cats of every color and coat, and the occasional little furry rodent, reptile or bird.

I've walked pit bulls and chihuahuas on the same day. If you're lucky enough to have shelter that legitimately cares about its animals, you should have no problem finding your perfect match, be it a companion for your children to play with or a buddy to keep your feet toasty while you're watching a sappy movie.

Just for the Love of It!

Nothing feels quite as good as helping out someone in need. The same goes for shelter pets. As I mentioned, we're lucky enough to have a great little guy that came from our local shelter. Sometimes, he can be a big baby, but he's also become the self-appointed protector of girls, cuddler to the ill, and friend to the bored.

He has become the extra child in our family. In their own crazy way, animals do appreciate good owners.

In addition to feeling good about helping a needy animal, you'll very likely make a forever friend who dedicates himself or herself you for years to come!