The most fulfilling way to find an animal is through shelters (or rescue organizations – most breeds have one). Here are 10 good reasons why:
10. You’re not supporting a puppy mill. While retail, online, or flea markets sellers may tell you otherwise, most of their puppies come from breeders who may be raising them in truly shocking conditions. Unless you can buy directly from the breeder and see the conditions for yourself, it’s not recommended.
9. It’s less expensive. The adoption price of animals in most shelters includes shots, spay/neuter, license, and sometimes microchipping. These costs are not included in retail purchase.
8. The Shelter Pet Project makes it easy. Visit this online sight, choose dog or cat and enter your zip code. When I searched, there were 145 dogs available in my area and filters for gender, age, size, and breed.
7. Shelter animals can be easier on your house and family. Many shelter pets are already house-trained, leash-trained, and accustomed to being part of a family, so they acclimate more easily.
6. Shelter employees know the animals and can assist you in choosing one that will be compatible with your family and lifestyle.
5. Adopting an animal that has been relinquished is rewarding for both of you. Shelter animals are usually there due to a move, divorce, or some other life change. They haven’t done anything wrong. They’re just waiting for a new family to love them, and many adopters will tell you that rescued pets respond as though they know they’ve been saved. (It sounds weird, but I can personally attest to it.)
4. Research shows that animals are beneficial to both physical and mental health. Dogs especially force us to be more active, which can lower blood pressure and decrease feelings of loneliness and isolation. Few things are better for mental health than loving an animal and having that love returned.
3. Adoption changes their whole world. In addition to adopting an abandoned animal, you may be saving one that’s been abused or neglected. No animal deserves that. Providing a loving home gives that animal a whole new life.
2. You’re helping more than one animal. Every adoption makes room for another abandoned one and helps support the shelter financially, as well. It’s estimated that 6 to 8 million animals a year are waiting for adoption in shelters.
1. By adopting, you are saving a life. Because of the incredible number of animals in shelters, many are ultimately euthanized due to overcrowding. Saving one makes space for another one to wait for adoption. Saving one may actually save two.
Shelters and rescue organizations have applications, hoping to find long-term housing and good matches between people and their pets. They need to know about the housing situation; number and ages of your children; your lifestyle and activities; number and type of other pets (when we adopted our greyhounds, we were asked about cats – greys often think they’re rabbits).
Our local shelters include the Humane Educational Society of Chattanooga (heschatt.org); McKamey Animal Center (mckameyanimalcenter.org); Pet Placement Center (petplacementcenter.com); East Ridge Animal Center (eastridgeanimalservices.org); A Paw and a Prayer Dog Rescue (Facebook); and Trooper’s Treasures (trooperstreasures.com). Their websites provide information on costs, available animals, and steps of adoption.
Of course, the first two considerations of giving people an animal is whether they want one and whether they can care for it responsibly. If the answer to both is yes, you may be giving them these animals the best present of their lives - certainly a lasting one.