Pet ownership brings many benefits! Studies show pet owners, in general, have lower levels of stress and loneliness along with higher activity levels and opportunities for socialization. Some studies even show that pet owners, and dog owners in particular, live longer lives!
So, now that you’re ready to choose your next companion, which type of pet is right for you: a shelter pet, a rescue pet, or pet from a responsible breeder?
Shelter and Rescue Pets
Shelter and rescue pets are often housed differently but have similar backgrounds; they may have been found on the street, surrendered or abandoned by their owners, or taken away from an abusive situation. Shelters are typically operated and funded by local governments, and shelter animals are kept in a facility and housed with other animals.
Rescue groups, on the other hand, are generally operated by volunteers and funded by donations. Most rescue animals are housed, or “fostered” with a volunteer until permanent placement with a loving family can be secured.
Why Adopt from a Shelter or Rescue Organization?
Pet adoption statistics reveal that approximately 3.2 million shelter animals are adopted each year (1.6 million dogs and 1.6 million cats). So why adopt a pet? Because shelter and rescue animals make great pets! Here are some reasons to consider adopting a shelter or rescue pet.
- You may be saving a life. It’s a sad fact that 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized every year (670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats). In addition, it’s estimated that more than 2 million puppies are sold each year that originated from puppy mills. By adopting, people can help put an end to them!
- You open up a spot for another animal. Many dogs and cats are euthanized because of overcrowding. By taking one out of the mix, you make room for one more.
- You may be giving an animal a second chance. Many rescue animals came from abusive homes. While they may require some TLC to get over their previous trauma, they’ll also be grateful for the new lease on life!
- You can save money. Shelters have veterinarians on staff, so most treat an animal’s minor health conditions. All shelters, and most rescue organizations, will also spay or neuter the animals before their adoption so you don’t have to foot the bill.
- You may not have to train. Many shelter and rescue animals once lived with another family and have already been house-trained and understand other commands. Even if a rescue wasn’t properly trained, the volunteer or foster family may do this before you adopt.
Purchasing a purebred dog or cat from a reputable and ethical breeder is another option. A reputable breeder cares deeply about each litter of puppies or kittens. They will spend a lot of time socializing, caring for, and observing the offspring, usually until they are 12 weeks old.
When you go to visit, they’ll show you where the litter lives, plays, and Mom’s quarters. And, they won’t sell to just anyone. Ethical breeders screen new homes, so be prepared for a lot of questions.
Puppy Mill vs Breeder
We hate to even put those two terms together, however it’s important to explain the difference for pet parents-to-be who may not understand that the two are polar opposites.
Puppy mills are inhumane, high-volume dog breeding facilities that churn out puppies for profit. Dogs bred in puppy mills are often sick, unsocialized, and kept in small cages until they’re sold through the internet or to a pet store (this is where the term "adopt, don't shop" originated).
Responsible breeders are the complete opposite. They breed out of love for the breed, not profit. They are also not to blame for the homeless pets in shelters; they find good homes for every dog or cat they breed and keep track of them once they leave. These ethical breeders even support animal rescue efforts, and often will foster animals and place them with caring homes.
Buying a Puppy from a Breeder
So, why buy a puppy (or a kitten) from a breeder? There are five good reasons!
- Predictability. You may want a well-bred purebred pet that exemplifies what you want in a companion, versus a cute puppy who may grow up differently than you expected when it comes to size, appearance, temperament, etc.
- Health. Buying a puppy from a breeder means you know the history of the parents, their health (and often a health guarantee), and temperament. This is very important for military, police, or rescue dogs, as well as service animals.
- Showing. As the movie Best in Show has taught us, there is a whole culture around showing dogs and cats! If you want to compete in the American Kennel Club® (AKC) and the Cat Fanciers' Association® (CFA) shows you’ll need a dog or cat from an AKC breeder or CFA breeder.
- Expert breed support. Most breeders will encourage you to stay in touch after your take home a puppy or kitten, for as long as you’re lucky to have them! They know the breed, and want only the best for them and you.
- Your pet will always have a home. Good breeders feel responsible for the puppies and kittens they produce and don’t ever want them to wind up in a shelter or on the streets. They will take back and keep, or re-home, any dog or cat they produce if for some reason you’re no longer able to care for them.
Ready for Your New Puppy or Kitten?
Adopting a shelter or rescue pet, or purchasing from a responsible breeder, are all great options if you’re ready to be a new pet parent! Visit your local shelter, contact a rescue organization near you, or check out PuppySpot if you’re looking for a responsible breeder. Just remember, the days of asking “How Much is That Doggie In the Window?” are gone; help put an end to puppy mills by choosing a shelter pet, rescue pet, or a pet from a responsible breeder (and, if you need help transporting your new furry friend, don't hesitate to contact us!)
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