I recently crashed a dog party filled (almost) solely of golden retrievers. In fact, it was a pretty casual 151st anniversary party of the breed held here in Atlanta, Georgia. I did not have a dog with me, but I did have my camera, so I was in! Last year, the Golden Retriever Club of Scotland hosted the 150th anniversary party. I just picture myself lying on my back amidst a sea of blonde, goofy, bodies trampling me with love and slobber. This is what I dreamt of leading up to the party in Piedmont Park. The turn out for the party was fairly impressive, but safe to say not nearly as many goldens as Scotland’s party.
I’m telling this story because I found myself eavesdropping on quite a few conversations. Shut up, we all do it. I can’t not hear what’s going on around me. What I noticed the most was a lot of dialogue about dog breeders. It seemed like everyone knew the same handful of golden retriever breeders (by first name basis, might I add) and were very particular about their choices. Listening to people discuss which breeders they’ve decided to buy their dog from sounds more like collecting glass figurines and less like adopting a new baby. Any time someone has asked me if I can recommend a breeder for whatever type of dog they are looking for, I always give out information for local shelters. It’s not a popular response, but I genuinely believe that shelter animals make for the best companions. To extend that thought, I sat down and made a list of the benefits of adopting a shelter animal.
- Save & Change a Life (and probably way more than one)
So many shelters are overwhelmed by the amount of animals in their care. It can be stressful and confusing for the animals because they don’t know if their previous family will come back. Rescue groups and shelters do great work by providing food, shelter, and care to homeless animals, so we need to do our part in the community. By adopting a dog or cat from a shelter, you create a vacant space for another animal in need to have a place to stay until they can find there forever home. The ripple effect goes on and on from there.
Companionship & Socialization
There are studies that show the importance to our physical, mental, and emotional health to have human connection and companionship (see last week’s post about International Day of Friendship). If you’ve ever had a bond with an animal, you understand that companionship of any kind is significant. Not only do you form a strong connection to another living being, but studies have shown that people walking with dogs are portrayed as trustworthy. People are more likely to approach you if you have a dog with you. As a dog walker, I would say this statement is true. I’ve met so many new people and even gotten dates just because someone wanted to pet the dogs I had with me.
Dogs need exercise. When you adopt a dog, you now have to schedule daily walks with your pup. This doesn’t only provide exercise for your new fur baby, but it also provides you with added exercise and creates a stronger bond with your dog. Once you increase your activity levels, it can get addicting. Daily runs with your dog, or dropping them off at daycare while you’re at the gym only benefits the both of you. Take your dog for hikes and fun adventures! Your new pup now holds you accountable for exercising.
Growing up with an ex-cop as a father, we had a german shepherd and one of her main jobs was to protect the family. She was a great guard dog, who barked anytime someone came up our driveway or rang the doorbell. One night, someone climbed through our basement window, but as soon as our dog began barking, they ran out through the garage door and into the woods. She saved us from a potentially scary scenario. Whether you live alone or with others, a dog is a great way to keep your home safe. Dogs or any size or age can be known to bark anytime someone is at your door. The best alarm system for your home!
Help End Cycle of Mass Breeding
Puppy mills are a dangerous place for any dog. Female dogs are forcefully impregnated and used to birth multiple litters, before they are discarded and usually end up neglected, euthanized or dropped at shelters. Some breeders fall into this category for me. I’ve heard horror stories about breeders who care more about the money they make from the puppies than they do about the animals themselves. I have a friend who heard about a breeder that bred show dogs. This particular breeder had a puppy who did not meet height requirements for shows, and she her tail grew out in an unusual way. Because of these reasons, the poor pup was kept in a crate and not given much attention. My friend adopted her from the breeder, and it took this poor dog a long time to trust us humans. When dogs are bought from pet stores, it supports puppy mills and mass breeders. Please adopt, don’t shop!
Help End Overpopulation
We have all watched Wheel of Fortune at least once in our lives, right? Bob Barker (and now Drew Carey) have always ended each show by reminding us to get our pets spayed or neutered to help control animal overpopulation. There’s truth to this concern. TNR (trap, neuter, release) programs do their part to help stray cat communities from growing. By adopting an animal from a shelter, your new addition is most likely caught up on vaccines and already spayed or neutered.
Adult Dogs Are Already Potty Trained
I’ve often had people come to me, looking very tired, and telling me how they recently
adopted a new puppy. They see how cute puppies are, but forget how much work it takes to train and raise them. I, personally, prefer older dogs. I love the wisdom and clear experiences that old dogs have lived. Plus, they are already potty trained! If you adopt an older dog from a shelter, they have a general understanding of how to behave around the house. That’s a very general statement to make, however, and you may need to provide some training so the dog understands what you’re expectations are for them. Training a new puppy takes a lot of patience and repetition. If you still prefer puppies and young dogs, there are dogs of all ages and sizes in shelters and they can pair you with the appropriate match.
It Feels Good When You Can Provide a Good Life
This reason kind of goes with reason #1. If you’ve ever done something for another you know how good it feels inside. That gooey feeling inside when you’ve made someone else’s life better, even for a moment, releases endorphins in your body and can become addicting. It feels great to help others, and when our adopted additions open up to us we know they appreciate it. Animals who spend time in shelters can show gratitude for their new environment. Anything from the first time they wag their tail, or give you kisses, or even stand near you by choice will warm your insides!
It Gives You (both) a Sense of Purpose
When I adopted my cat, he was very sick and malnourished. The rest of his family did not survive and he was fortunate enough to be scooped up by my friend before I took him in. He had upper respiratory infections and lungworms in his body. Because of that, I couldn’t let him wander outside alone and I wanted to give him the best possible life that I could. On a personal note, I was going through a break up and feeling pretty down on myself at the time. Having this little ill kitten come into my life, I felt a new sense of purpose. Eight years later, I still hold myself responsible for giving him the best life ever. He’s traveled on trains, gone on road trips, played with dog friends, and loves learning new tasks. Likewise, he brought me out of my slump all those years ago and still gives me emotional support when I need him. He knows when I’m sick or feeling low, and comforts me like I’ve done for him in the past.
Save Your Money to Actually Spend on Your New Furbaby
Buying a pet from a breeder or pet store can be pretty costly. Purebred dogs can sell for thousands of dollars. To continue from reason #9, I would much rather support a shelter and spend the rest of that money on the best care possible for my furchild. Money spent adopting from a shelter often covers spay/neutering and vaccine costs. That money can also help shelters and rescue groups update their facilities to increase the value of life for those animals still in shelters. It also allows shelters to provide better quality food, treats, and toys to the remaining animals.
You Can Find Any Breed
All dog breeds can be found in shelters. Quite often, someone buys a puppy from a breeder or store, but if that dog has bad habits or a health concern, those same people give up ownership or abandon them. If you’re looking for a specific breed to adopt, some shelters provide pictures of available dogs for adoption on websites and social media. You could also call around or visit shelters to see your options. Who knows, if you visit in person you may fall in love with a dog you weren’t expecting. This can also be true of cats. It is harder to find a specific breed from an animal shelter, but some people are not prepared to own certain breeds of cats because of personality traits or health issues. You can also research rescue groups in your area for breed-specific rescue groups for dogs and cats.
Mixed Breeds Tend to Have Less Health Issues
As an extension to this reason, many purebred dogs have tendencies to be susceptible to genetic diseases. In my experience, mixed breed dogs can actually be healthier than purebred dogs.
Shelters Can Provide Reliable Resources For You
If you’re adopting a dog or cat for the first time, then a shelter is a great place for resources in the pet community. They will usually have local veterinarians, supplies stores, pet sitters and walkers, and even brands of food they recommend. You can usually continue a relationship with the shelter long after adoption for help if you have questions down the line. Remember, the goals and intentions of their work is solely for the advancement of care of animals in need. They care about the animals rather than about money.
I hope this list provides you with enough reasons to adopt from a shelter and not to buy from a store or breeder. Shelters will often want to do a home visit, and meet with you before you are approved to adopt. This provides them with the best information to place animals in appropriate homes. They also usually have someone whose job is specifically to match potential adopters with dogs that align with their lifestyles and activity levels. They have systems in place to ensure proper matches for adoption. If you find yourself wanting to help out, but you’re unsure of your readiness to adopt, then consider volunteering at a shelter or become a foster parent!
A concern that many people have when they adopt animals is the history of the dog or cat. Understandably, you may not ever know what your newly adopted fur baby has experienced in its life, but you have full control over future experiences. Similarly, you may realize that your pet has symptoms of a food or environmental sensitivity. Luckily, here at 5 Strands Affordable Testing have designed a hair analysis test to help you determine what would cause such symptoms. With this test, your pet never has to leave the comfort of home, and you would only have to provide us with 10-15 strands of hair to find out what food and environmental intolerances affect your fur baby. We make it easy to provide great care to your pets!