Adopt Don't Shop

One of the things I can't wait to do when I graduate is adopt a pet. I say it will be a dog, but knowing me, I'll probably walk into a shelter and adopt five cats. Okay, two cats. The point is, when I graduate and am financially ready, I will be sure to adopt a pet; I am 100 percent going to a shelter, not a breeder. Why? Because according to the Humane Society, 2.7 million dogs and cats are euthanized each year, just because shelters are too crowded and not enough people want to adopt.

When my brother and I were younger, we loved to spend our free time in pet stores. We always looked at the fish, birds, hamsters, and reptiles, and I always loved looking at the animals for adoption. My parents finally figured out what days were sponsored adoption days, so they always managed to keep us away from pet stores when there were puppies and dogs sitting outside. But, in stores like PETCO and PetSmart, there were always cats for adoption, so those were harder to avoid. While my family walked around getting pet supplies and looking at all the other animals, I would stay at the front and play with the cats. Usually, when my family came back and we had to leave, the cat would start meowing for me to come back, and I would start crying. My parents would say, "We have two at home," and I would respond "But this one needs a home." They practically had to ban me from pet stores because I couldn't leave without throwing a fit.

I'm one of those rare people who loves dogs and cats equally, but I've never owned a dog and instead my family has always had cats. I love my cats dearly, and I can proudly say that when friends come to visit they leave wanting a cat because my cats are so friendly (this is because they act like dogs instead of cats). However, I feel incredibly guilty that my family got our cats from a breeder instead of from a shelter.

There are a lot of misconceptions about pet adoption. One of those is that shelters only have older animals. While there are a lot of adult and senior animals in shelters, it is possible to get a puppy or kitten. Shelters do not discriminate by age, and often times pregnant animals are found that give birth to an entire litter. Another misconception is that shelters do not have purebreds, but in actuality, 25 percent of pets in shelters in the United States are purebreds. And if you want a specific breed, chances are you can find a local rescue shelter dedicated to a specific breed of dog or cat. For example, in North Carolina there is both a Golden Retriever rescue and a Beagle rescue.

Many people believe that shelter animals are damaged beyond repair, but any responsible shelter would not let an aggressive dog or cat be adopted, just like good breeders make the health of the animals a priority instead of profit. Shelter employees will work tirelessly to match someone with the right pet, just like a breeder. And there is nothing to say that animals in shelters are more unhealthy than animals from a breeder, because oftentimes purebred dogs suffer from genetic disorders as a result of breeding.

There are also several benefits to adopting a pet. For starters, adoption fees are cheaper than breeder fees, and the adoption fee typically covers spay/neuter costs, vaccinations, upkeep, and any medical costs the pet underwent when it arrived at the shelter. Those things alone are a minimum of $500, but most adoption fees are usually anywhere from $75-$350 depending on the shelter. To make it even better, the adoption fee goes to helping the shelter stay running and rescue more animals.

Another benefit is that many adult pets in shelters are already house trained and crate trained. If you adopt a pet, you will have to allow it to adjust to it's new surroundings and learn how to enforce rules, but while it was at the shelter, it learned the basics of training. This is a lot easier than getting a puppy or kitten from a breeder and having to house or litter box train it.

I have nothing against people who choose to get a pet from a breeder. Everyone has their reasons for getting a pet, and at the end of the day, it is their decision where they get it from. However, never get a dog from a pet store, unless it is for adoption from a local shelter. When puppies are for sale in pet stores, this means they are from a puppy mill, where dogs are bred in inhumane conditions. In fact, a lot of dogs in shelters are ones that were rescued from a puppy mill.

So if you are thinking about getting a pet, know that when you adopt one, you don't only get a new companion, you can also save a life.

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