When you're ready to add a furry, feathered or scaled member to your family, it can be tempting to visit a breeder or a pet store for a "new" pet you can raise as your very own as soon as it is old enough to be away from its parents. There are many reasons why you should consider visiting a shelter first, however, and adopting can be a better, more responsible and more fulfilling option for both you and your new pet.
Top 12 Reasons to Adopt a Shelter Pet
Many animal shelters are filled – even overfilled – with pets of all species, ages and breeds from puppies and kittens to rabbits, birds, ferrets, lizards and more. Pets are surrendered to shelters for many reasons, including moving, divorce, allergies, a lost job or just being unable to care for the pet. There is nothing wrong with the animals, and in fact most shelters carefully screen animals for good health, friendly personalities and appropriate training before putting them up for adoption. When you choose to adopt a shelter pet, you can…
- Save a Life
Thousands of friendly, adoptable pets are sadly euthanized every year just because no family chooses them. When you adopt a pet, you give that pet a second chance to have a wonderful, fulfilling life with a happy family.
- Save Money
Pets from stores or breeders can cost hundreds of dollars, but shelter pets are often offered for much less. Some shelters even offer promotions when certain pets may be free. Furthermore, shelter pets are already vaccinated, dewormed, microchipped and spayed or neutered, expenses you would still have to invest in a new pet.
- Match Your Needs
Shelter pets can have quirky personalities and show their true colors more than young, immature pets may, helping you find a pet that matches your own personality. A shelter pet may already have basic obedience training, be housebroken and be crate trained as well.
- Avoid Supporting Unscrupulous Breeders
When irresponsible pet breeders are able to sell pets for high prices, they continue to breed more animals without caring for them properly, checking for the healthiest bloodlines or ensuring their animals go to responsible families. If you adopt a shelter pet instead, you don't support those kinds of practices.
- Help More Than One Animal
When you adopt a pet from a shelter, you are helping more than just your new pet. The adoption fees you pay help support the shelter's operation and all the animals it helps, and the space you have opened up with your adoption gives an opportunity for another pet to find a new home.
- Support Low-Cost Veterinary Care
Many animal shelters offer a range of veterinary services not only for the animals they offer, but for any community member to use. By adopting a pet from a shelter, you help support those clinics so they can be available for anyone to use to keep their pets healthy.
- Boost Your Health
Pets are great for your health, because they encourage you to get more exercise and their unconditional love and attention can help ease depression, anxiety, loneliness or other conditions. A shelter pet can be just as loving and comforting as a pet purchased from any other source.
- See the Future
Puppies, kittens and other baby pets are undeniably adorable and endearing, but they can quickly outgrow that baby stage and may look quite different than you first envisioned. A tiny baby pet may quickly outgrow the space you have available, or you may not like the proportions and appearance of the adult animal. By adopting a mature pet from a shelter, you don't have to worry about how your pet may change as they grow.
- Try Before You Commit
Pet stores carefully limit interactions with prospective buyers to keep their pets safe, but that also limits how much you can learn about the animal before you buy it. Shelters, however, often encourage you to interact with a new pet repeatedly, introducing it to all your family members, even taking it for walks or for a brief trial period before you commit to the adoption. This can help you feel comfortable and confident with your new family member before you bring them home permanently.
- Teach Compassion
Adopting a pet from a shelter can be an amazing lesson for children. When you adopt a shelter pet, you teach children that a "used" pet is just as deserving of love and a happy home as any other pet, and you teach children that it is important to have compassion for lost, abandoned or surrendered animals of all ages and types. You are also teaching children to support the community in kind, responsible ways.
- Stop Pet Overpopulation
Pets adopted from shelters are spayed or neutered before they are allowed to be adopted, which means you will not become an accidental pet grandparent with an unexpected litter. This helps ensure there are fewer unwanted pets that may be surrendered to shelters in the future.
- Become Part of the Shelter Family
When you adopt a pet, you get more than just one animal that joins your family. The foster families, adoption specialists, veterinarians and other employees and volunteers from the shelter are all a great resource you can use for years to come. Have a behavioral problem? These people have seen it all and can give you pointers. Need to find a new kennel or pet sitter? The shelter will have plenty of good recommendations. When you adopt a pet, you are welcomed into the shelter's entire extended family.
Adopting a pet is not a decision to make lightly or quickly, but you can decide to adopt from a shelter without hesitation, and you'll enjoy the many important benefits for you, your family and your new pet.