If you’ve ever considered adopting a dog from an animal shelter, this month is the time to act.
October is Adopt-a-Dog Month. The American Humane Association launched the event in 1981 as a response to the large numbers of dog entering the shelter system in the United States each year. It estimate that 3 to 4 million animals are brought to shelters each year. (Adopt-a-Cat Month takes place in June.)
All dogs give you unconditional love, their loyalty and years of happiness, but for many dog parents, there is something extra special about welcoming a shelter pup into their home.
Here are just a few reasons why rescuing a dog is one of the best decisions you’ll make.
1. You Are Saving a Life
When you purchase a puppy or a dog from a store or breeder, you are not only passing on the chance to give a shelter pet a home, but you may also be supporting an industry that profits on neglecting the welfare of animals.
Nearly all puppies sold in pet stores come from puppy mills (despite what the owners may tell you). These mills, or commercial breeders, are in the business to make a profit at the expense of dogs’ health, happiness and quality of life. While the moms and dads are forced to reproduce over and over again, the puppies are shipped to pet stores, with many arriving sick and suffering from problems like poor socialization skills.
And while there are definitely reputable breeders out there (who would never sell to a pet store), there are also what is known as “backyard breeders,” or those people who don’t take their responsibilities seriously and are not equipped with the knowledge to produce healthy puppies.
2. You Are Saving Money
Buying a dog or puppy can cost as much as $3,000 — and in some cases, a lot more. On the other hand, adoption fees range from $50 to $250, depending on whether the dog is purebred, the age of the dog, any health conditions, which shelter it comes from and whether a rescue group has spent funds on boarding, veterinarian care and grooming. There are even adoption events where the fees are waived.
While animal shelters house plenty of purebreds, you may be lowering your overall costs by choosing a mixed breed. Many purebred dogs are genetically prone to developing specific health problems including breathing difficulties, hip and elbow dysplasia, luxating patellae and heart disease, among others. With mutts, the chances of having an inherited disease specific to a particular breed tends to be lower.
3. You Are More Likely to Get a Dog Suited to Your Needs
When you buy a puppy from a pet store, you are generally given no information about the dog’s parents, such as temperament and genetic health conditions.
Additionally, after you take your puppy home, some pet stores may ghost you, not providing any support or answering pressing puppy questions.
When you adopt, especially from a rescue group, the caretakers, foster parents or shelter staff have taken the time to get to know the dog. They may have information about the dog’s past, but even if the dog’s background is unknown, they have most often worked with the dog on training and socialization, and they are aware of the dog’s quirks, likes and dislikes.
Also, a rescue group or a shelter usually will be available to help with the initial adjustment period and any other issues.
4. You Are Setting a Good Example
When you adopt a dog from a shelter or rescue you are making a statement: dogs’ lives matter. While millions of animals get adopted each year, approximately 1.5 million are euthanized.
You are also sending a message to the puppy mill industry, which could not survive if people stopped buying puppies from pet stores or online markets. You are standing up for the rights of dogs to live in happy homes.
5. You Can Choose the Dog’s Age, Size and Appearance
While puppies are over-the-top cute, they can also be a handful — and they take a lot of work. If you’re not prepared to train your dog from scratch, an adult or older dog may be a better fit.
When you adopt an older dog, you will know how big the pooch will be, as most likely they are full grown. You will also be able to see the overall personality of the dog to an extent. But remember, in a busy shelter, dogs often act differently than they would in a home, so don’t discount dogs who are withdrawn or overly vocal and active.
Plus, an adult dog may already be house-trained and know basic commands, which is often much easier than adopting a puppy, who must be taught these things. In fact, dogs often end up in shelter because people who purchase a cute puppy have no idea how to house-train a dog, or teach basic manners.
6. You Are Getting a Dog Who Will Be Grateful
Many dogs adopted from a shelter understand that you have saved their lives. Once they adjust to their new environment, a shelter dog can become the most loyal, loving dog you have ever met.
You will also have the satisfaction of watching a dog blossom and thrive under your love and care. Some dogs have never experienced the comforts of a home, like a soft bed, toys, kisses and hugs, and regular meals. It will be an unforgettable experience to watch a formerly fearful or emotionally shutdown dog come out of their shell and discover how great people and the world can be.
7. You Are Freeing Up Space to Save Another Life
Shelter are crowded; in fact, many shelters are constantly over capacity. When you adopt a dog from a shelter, you are freeing up space for another animal, so you are not only saving the dog you adopt, but you are also saving another life.
If you’ve been thinking of getting a dog, check out your local shelter or rescue. An adopted dog is not only as loving, intelligent and loyal as a dog that you buy, but they have an extra appreciation of the home and love you provide.
With so many great reasons to adopt rather than shop, you’ll be doing some good in the world — and bringing home an amazing companion!