If you're planning to welcome a four-legged child into the family, it can be tempting to buy a puppy on the internet or from a pet store. After all, some rescue dogs can be difficult to care for. Many of them endured abuse, neglect, and abandonment, and they have the scars — both physical and psychological — to show for it. Training a rescue isn't always a walk in the dog park, and many rescues are fearful of people and other pups.
On the other paw, not all rescues come from traumatic backgrounds. Some are surrendered due to personal issues like moving and divorce. It's not uncommon for rescues to be fully trained and socialized when they enter the shelter! (Or shortly afterward while in foster care.)
Before we dive in to the reasons why you should adopt, let's look at why adoption is so important in the first place.
Each year, more than 1.5 million doggos are adopted from animal shelters. (ASPCA)
The number of pets entering shelters and facing euthanization has steadily declined since 2011. (ASPCA)
Nearly 35% of dogs are obtained from breeders. (ASPCA)
More than 10,000 puppy mills are currently operating in the US. (The Puppy Mill Project)
Mother dogs are typically abandoned or killed after they've outlived their "usefulness" to the breeder. (The Puppy Mill Project)
Now that you know why more pet parents should adopt, here are 4 more reasons why you should skip the breeder and head to the shelter to find your next fur-baby.
Every year, more than 2 million animals are euthanized because shelters don't have the space or resources to care for them. By adopting a rescue, you're literally saving not just one dog's life, but two! Think about it — when you adopt a dog from a shelter, another dog can take their place. Win-win!
Operators of puppy mills sell more than 2 million puppies each year. Sure, the puppies might be cute. But the ugly truth is, those puppies and their parents are often abused and neglected.
At puppy mills, dogs are forced to live in cramped cages 24/7. To conserve space, puppy mill operators often stack several cages on top of each other. The dogs typically receive no veterinary care and no protection from inclement weather.
While it's true that some breeding facilities are licensed by the USDA, recent reports reveal that those same facilities are breaking the law and abusing their dogs. In April 2020, the ASPCA reported 20 violations in 5 years at just one USDA-licensed dog breeding facility in Missouri. In November 2020, the Humane Society shared footage from dozens of breeding facilities showing dogs living in squalid conditions.
So think twice before you buy, even if the seller claims to source their puppies from a USDA-licensed facility. When in doubt, adopt, don't shop!
When you adopt a dog, you'll reap the rewards of regular physical exercise. The American Heart Association recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. A daily 30-minute walk with your woofer ensures you meet that requirement!
Those benefits could even lead to a longer (and happier) life. A 2019 review of 10 studies with data from over 3 million participants found that pet parents have a lower risk of cardiovascular-related death.
This might sound a little heavy for a light-hearted article about adopting a rescue pup. But the point is, your rescue is good for the heart in more ways than one! They're also good for the mind — studies by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute show that dogs:
Some pet parents are picky and want a canine companion who suits their lifestyle. (And that's okay.) After all, a Chihuahua might not be the best fit for an avid hiker, while a Bloodhound wouldn't do well in a small apartment.
For full control over the dog's breed, age, and activity level, buying from a breeder makes more sense. Right? Wrong!
Shelter dogs come in all shapes, sizes, breeds, and ages. Plus, shelters offer more information about a dog's health and temperament. That's because rescue organizations typically conduct a full health exam and administer vet care to the pets they take in.
Compare that to dogs at puppy mills, who receive very little (if any) veterinary care. When you choose to adopt, you can rest assured your dog received the care they needed, as well as a temperament test.
But who says you're limited to your local animal shelter? Websites like Adopt a Pet simplify the search for the "pawfect" pup, allowing you to enter your preferred age, breed, and location. Some animal shelters and rescue organizations across the country will even work with you to find your mutt made in heaven!
We'll leave you with one last, slightly more practical benefit of adopting a dog: more money in your pocket! Many shelters cover the costs of vaccinations, spay/neuter, and microchipping. That adds up to $500 in savings on average, which means you just need to take care of basics like the adoption fee, dog food, and walking accessories.
When you adopt a dog, whether they're young and spry or old and ailing, you'll no doubt have your paws full. But we're sure you'll agree the unbreakable bond you'll share with your new fur-baby makes everything worth it!