Sad eyes follow you from behind cages. Some dogs are barking, others wagging their tails happily, and some lying down quietly. Kittens meowing; while other cats curl up and watch you carefully. This is only some of the behavior you can expect from the animals in a shelter.
Unfortunately, some people still have negative misconceptions about shelter animals: that the dogs there are mainly pit-bull mixes, they are all sickly, or that they have behavioral problems. There may be some animals that fit those stereotypes, but what many people do not realize is that you can find purebreds at the shelters as well. According to the Humane Society of the United States, purebreds make up 25 to 30% of the shelter animal population. Also, mutts tend to live a bit longer than purebreds due to their mixed ancestry “weeding out” many of the genetic defects of a breed.
Third, pet shop animals are just as sickly as shelter dogs are made out to be. When you have animals in close quarters together, it’s going to raise the possibility of them catching something. It’s the same with children in schools-close quarters, and despite your best sanitizing efforts, there will always be a few children who catch the germs and come down with a sickness. Many pet shop animals are from puppy mills and backyard breeders, who do not conform to the AKC breed standards and are only in it to make a profit. While the pet shop puppy or kitty may be adorable, there are animals in shelters that desperately need homes because they may be in line to be euthanized soon. It’s estimated that 3-4 million cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters every year, animals which might have been some lucky family’s new pet.
Also, pet stores charge an obscene amount of money to buy an animal. The adoption fees are much cheaper and generally also cover vaccinations, de-worming, and spaying/neutering. Many shelters also have programs where they provide adoption counseling and follow-up assistance to help smooth over any hiccups you might have when taking home a new pet.
Don’t be upset if your local shelter doesn’t have your dream pet. Many shelters often have a waiting list, where they will either call or email you when an animal matching your preference comes in. There is also petfinder.org, which is a great resource as well. Remember, finding a pet that will match your needs takes time and shelters get new animals in every day. Keep trying, and your patience will be rewarded.
Still have your heart set on a purebred, but can’t afford a breeder? You can also go online and look up different rescue groups for the different breeds; they keep the adoptable animals in foster homes until they can find their forever homes.
In the end, it all comes down to saving a life. Don’t listen to the negative stereotypes and go out to make a difference. If you adopt a shelter pet, you will have a new best friend who will be forever grateful that you changed their life for the better.