4 min read

4 Reasons to Adopt a Rescue Pup


Written by Mel Lee-Smith

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 05/11/2021, edited: 10/24/2023


Planning to welcome a four-legged child into the family? You might be tempted to buy a puppy from the internet or a pet store. After all, rescue dogs have a reputation for being 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 dog isn't always a walk in the 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 a dog instead of buying, let's look at why adoption is so important in the first place.

Fast facts about pet adoption

Check out some of these stats on pet adoption and puppy mills from the ASPCA and The Puppy Mill Project:

  • 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)

4 reasons to adopt a rescue pup

Now that you know why more pet parents should adopt, here are 4 more reasons why you should skip the breeder and head to your local animal shelter to find your next fur-baby.

person holding a black and brown dog in front of a kennel at an animal shelter

Give a four-legged friend a second chance

Every year, more than 2 million animals are euthanized because shelters don't have the space or resources to care for them. Given this sad reality, it's no wonder why the highlight of every animal shelter volunteer's day is when a potential adopter comes to visit.

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!

Related: Why Adopting Your Next Pet is Good for the Planet

Join the fight against puppy mills and backyard breeders

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 often 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 little to no veterinary care or 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!

Related: 3 Things You Can Do Right Now to Help Stop Puppy Mills

person walking down a sidewalk alongside a brown and white dog on a blue leash

Improve your physical and mental health

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 death from heart problems.

That might sound a little heavy for a light-hearted article about why you should adopt a rescue dog. 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:

Enjoy more choice and peace of mind

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 ample 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 will even work with you to find your mutt made in heaven!

Related: Where Should You Go to Adopt a Dog?

Why you should adopt a dog instead of buying: Recap

Is there any downside to adopting a dog? Not only will you improve our physical and mental health, but you'll also make a real impact in the lives of animals in need, not to mention the environment.

We'll leave you with a bonus benefit of adopting a dog: more money in your pocket! Many shelters cover the costs of vaccinations, spay/neuter, and microchipping, which adds up to $500 in savings on average.

Start your pup's new life on the right paw

Although many animal shelters cover the cost of preventative care, you'll need to budget for vet care throughout the rest of your pup's life. To ensure your fur-child starts their new life on the right paw, consider investing in pet insurance. The right insurance policy can put 90% of vet bills back in your pocket in as little as 3 days. Check out our pet insurance comparison tool to see how plans from leading providers stack up!

Still not sure if you're ready to adopt? These 3 heartwarming dog adoption success stories just might help you decide!

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