The Benefits of Adopting Pets from Rescue Shelters

Millions of animals enter rescue shelters each year.

Millions of animals enter rescue shelters each year, and most are euthanized.

Why? Because there aren’t enough adopters to give these dogs and other animals a home, and their numbers are too high.

This may seem like a good reason to wait before adopting an animal. Some people choose to adopt a purebred instead of a rescue because they don’t want their time with the pet cut short by its existing health issues. Unfortunately, this mindset is part of the problem: purebreds lead to overpopulation, which leads to more deaths in shelters.

The majority of pets who end up in shelters are euthanized.

The majority of pets who end up in shelters are euthanized.

In the United States, approximately 4 million animals are euthanized each year – 2 to 3 times the number of animals who are adopted from shelters. Cats and dogs make up about 90% of this population, with large, medium, and small dogs accounting for about one-third each. Euthanasia rates are highest among cats, who have a rate more than twice as high as that of dogs (see Table 1).

Some people insist that they will only buy a pet from a breeder because they want to avoid getting an animal with behavioral issues.

It’s true that some rescue pets have behavioral issues. But there’s a reason for this: the majority of them have either been neglected or abused. So, when you adopt a pet from a shelter or rescue, you aren’t necessarily getting an animal with behavioral problems—you’re getting a pet that needs love and attention in order to thrive.

When this happens, it can take time for an animal to feel safe again. While some may experience separation anxiety or difficulty trusting people, many will thrive once they’ve been placed in loving homes where they receive the care they deserve.

It’s also important to remember that shelters and rescues evaluate the animals in their care before placing them with families looking to adopt. That means that your pet could just as well-behaved as one purchased from a breeder (and probably more grateful).

Rescue pets are just as healthy as those purchased from breeders.

  • What’s more, rescue pets are just as healthy as those purchased from breeders. In fact, many rescue pets are purebred, which means that you can potentially get the exact dog or cat you’ve been looking for without paying a breeder’s fee. Furthermore, rescue shelters do their best to ensure the health of their animals by providing veterinary services such as spaying and neutering and vaccinating against common diseases such as rabies. Many shelters also make sure pets are housebroken and microchipped before they’re put up for adoption.

Although it is true that some animals that are available in shelters may have pre-existing conditions such as anxiety or heart issues, this is not always the case—and if an animal does have a condition, most shelter staff will be forthcoming about it so you can make an informed decision about whether you’d like to adopt them.

Adopting an animal saves lives.

Adopting a pet from a shelter saves lives. Sadly, animal shelters are overcrowded and underfunded in many parts of the world. Without adopters, animals that would have bright futures ahead of them have to be euthanized to make way for others. Pet overpopulation is a serious problem, but it’s one we can help prevent through adoption. Every adopted pet means one less has to be euthanized to make room for more animals in the shelter system, which gives animals and owners more time together than they would otherwise have had.

Purchasing animals contributes to the overpopulation problem.

Although purchasing animals from breeders can be tantalizing, it contributes to the overpopulation problem. This is because you are allowing a third party to drive the market for cute, designer pets. This, in turn, incentivizes the breeding of more animals.

If you want a purebred dog, choose rescue!

Adopting is more cost effective and saves the life of an animal who would otherwise be euthanized.

There are many reasons to consider adopting a pet from a shelter, but one of the greatest is the savings. Buying from breeders can get you charged hundreds—even thousands—of dollars for your new friend. Shelters are much more cost-effective, and often include services like spaying or neutering that would increase the price of purchasing directly. You’ll also be avoiding the risk of getting an animal with behavioral issues, which can make them much more difficult to take care of (and potentially costly). If you’re concerned about finding the right fit for your family, shelters often have staff on hand who can direct you towards animals whose personalities match what you’re looking for. Even if they don’t have exactly what you’re seeking, they can put out alerts to other rescue organizations in case someone has what you’re looking for. All in all, adopting pets instead of buying directly from breeders is more cost-effective and saves the life of an animal who would otherwise be euthanized.

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