10 Reasons To Never Overlook Shelter Pets When Thinking About Buying

10 Reasons You Should Always Consider Shelter Pets When Looking For Your Next Furry Companion

Getting a pet from a breeder isn't bad, but keeping your eyes and heart open to a shelter pet can be worth its weight in gold.


Let's face it: when you look at the "Adopt don't shop" campaign, both sides can get a little... feisty. While those who buy from breeders often argue that you rarely know the pet's history when you adopt them, the adopters are quick to point out that there are too many shelter animals being euthanized for us to encourage the breeding of even more animals.

Regardless of your personal opinions, the pro-adopters do have a point there; annually, 6.5 million animals are placed in adoption centers in the United States and 1.5 million of those are euthanized. Though these are declining numbers, 34% of dogs in shelters were originally purchased from breeders—and this is a big issue for the pro-adoption side.

That being said, adoption isn't for everyone. With working animals such as service dogs and mine sniffing rats, having their family history can be absolutely vital to ensure that they're going to be healthy and effective workers for as long as possible. But when you're looking for a companion animal, don't forget these ten things about rescue pets.

1. Your older dog's personality probably won't change too much

Raven Machie- Lady laying down

Just like children, puppies' personalities tend to grow and evolve into adulthood. When you adopt an older dog, their personalities are more likely to remain the same.

2. Your new dog or cat may already have their basic health needs taken care of

Raven Machie- Keanu "The Dude" Dracula after adoption

Some shelters will take care of an animal's basic health needs at little to no cost to you. Over 30 states require that shelters spay and neuter the dogs and cats that leave their care, and many shelters will even vaccinate, microchip, and do general medical evaluations to ensure that your future pet is healthy and ready to go home.

3. Just like animals from breeders, they won't hesitate to jump into action

Raven Machie- Sassy

We've all heard the stories of animals saving lives, but often times these aren't purebred animals with papers and the perfect lineage. When Amy Jung had a diabetic seizure, her recently adopted cat woke her and got her life-saving help; Roman the dog grabbed hold of his 13-year-old owner's shirt as she was trying to commit suicide and delayed her actions long enough for emergency services to reach her; and even my old pair, Wolfie the dog and Sassy the cat, alerted me to any major changes in my health. Just because they're not purebred doesn't mean they don't care just as much.

4. Certain major health conditions are more common in purebred dogs than mixed breeds

Raven Machie- Keanu and Ranger

While one major health condition, ruptured cranial cruciate ligaments, is more common in mixed breeds, 10 genetic disorders including epilepsy, bloat, and elbow dysplasia are found more commonly in purebred dogs. For those unable to pay for major vet bills, a rescue mutt may be a better option.

5. You may walk in looking for one type of animal, but walk out with something completely different

Raven Machie- Ranger under the covers

Sometimes you're absolutely convinced that you want a specific breed of dog or cat, but you end up in the same situation as my mother. She walked in looking for a senior rottweiler or Labrador, but she walked out with a six month old, three pound Pomeranian puppy rescued from a puppy mill. Over a decade later, she still knows that she made the right decision with Ranger. That being said, I still remember the scramble that night to find bowls that he could actually eat and drink out of...

6. You wanted a puppy? You can still get that puppy

Raven Machie- Ranger lying on the floor

Not every rescue pet is a senior. Using this site, you can find puppies near you; using this site, you can find kittens near you; and by contacting your local shelters, you can ask about any parrot chicks, foals, or rat pups they may have.

7. You'll be saving a life...literally

Facebook- Christian Ashcraft adopting Keanu

Remember those 1.5 million animals euthanized annually? Not only will you save one from being euthanized, you make space for another animal to be helped and hopefully find their forever home. The more people adopt, the fewer animals that are euthanized and the more that can be helped!

8. You'll be helping in the fight against puppy mills

Raven Machie- Ranger with his alopecia X

I mentioned puppy mills earlier, but what exactly are they? Well, for once everyone can agree with PETA's definition of puppy mills—even filthy, meat-eating, leather-wearing heathens like myself. Both PETA and the ASPCA agree that puppy mills place profit over the well-being of the dogs being bred, and female dogs are bred as often as possible. Dogs are often dirty, ill, and not properly cared for, with female breeders killed once they can no longer give birth and puppies often having various mental and physical health problems. As for Ranger, my mother's Pomeranian, he was malnourished, had muscle atrophy in almost every muscle in his body (including his heart), had an unexplained broken leg that healed incorrectly, was likely only a few weeks old when separated from his mother, and has skin and fur problems such as alopecia X.

By opting to go to the shelter rather than a pet shop, puppy mills will have fewer buyers and will hopefully go out of business altogether.

9. An unexpected friend can change the way you look at an entire species—and possibly even others

Lisa Hurtado- Silver sticking his head out of a hat

Lisa Hurtado, a family friend, explained her experience with Silver the rat:

"We got Silver from an unfortunate breeder situation. Someone saved him, hoping we would be able to adopt him. Silver was an unlikely friend and he taught us how to love and care for something we would've never considered loving before. He was constantly surprising me with his intelligence and personality. He was a great little rat and changed the way we looked at [them]."

By opening her home to an animal in need, both she and her family were able to grow to love what many people don't.

10. Yes, you'll likely have to work through a lot with them, but...

If you can put in the time and energy to show your new friend that they're safe, you'll have a sweet, loyal friend for the rest of your life. They'll be there for you, just like you were there for them.

Remember though: as long as you don't rule out shelter animals, getting your new furry friend from a breeder isn't a bad thing. As another family friend, Bri Anna Marshall, said about her dog Riley, "I was planning to rescue, and was talking about it while in the salon chair. [My ex-hairdresser] was saying her dog had [a puppy] and wanted me to consider her so she could guarantee she was going to a good home where she could see her again [rather than] putting her on Craigslist to go with strangers. I originally told her no [...] She made a deal with me to at least bring the kids to come to meet her before I said no, and then decide. We did, and we left there knowing that Riley was our girl."

Give the shelter dogs a chance. You'll never know who you'll find until you look.

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5 Ways Impulsively Getting A Dog Saved My Mental Health

Those four paws are good for a lot more than just face kisses.


Shortly before my husband and I officially moved out onto our own, he surprised me with a puppy in hand on the morning of our anniversary. Moving out, tackling college, and everything in between, I thought another huge responsibility was the last thing I needed. However, in reality, Oakley, the lab/Australian shepard/collie mix, was exactly what I needed to get back to "me."

He provides emotional support

One of the most obvious reasons is how much emotional support dogs, (and other respective animals) can provide. His paws have been accidentally stepped on, and he certainly isn't a fan of the forced flea/tick medication doses, but less than 30 seconds later, he is without fail immediately by my side again, tail wagging and ready for more kisses. Although he is not trained or certified as an ESA, it's without a doubt he has effectively (and unconsciously) combated random anxiety attacks or feelings of being alone.

He requires being cared for

You'll heavily judge every crazy fur mama, as did, I until you become one. Getting Oakley immediately got me consistently back on my feet and forced me to ask myself, "What does he need today?"Even simple, easy tasks like taking him out to run/go to the bathroom had me excited and forced me to find a motive in the day to day activities. I loved no longer having even the mere choice to be unproductive. Don't want to start your day? Well, Oakley needs his day started, so let's get moving.

He serves as protection

It's no surprise how far a dog's loyalty will go to protect their owner. For decades, specially trained dogs have had life-saving responsibilities assigned to them. Even being married, my husband and I's schedules vary significantly to where it is not uncommon for me to be alone. The slightest sound or shadow from outside our door immediately initiates barking. In the bathroom taking a shower? He's there. Knowing that Oakley is looking out, even when I get carried away with tasks like cooking dinner, always calms my nerves.

He's become something to look forward to

The nice thing about having Oakley is regardless of how my day goes, I know exactly how it is going to end. Whether I passed an exam with flying colors or got the lowest grade in the class, I know what waits for me when I open the door at home. After a long day, nothing resets my mood like walking into a face that is just as happy and excited to see me!

He encourages bonds with others

If you want your social interaction to sky rocket: get a puppy. No, I'm serious. You'll have people wanting to come over and visit "you" (let's be real… your puppy), like it's your last day on Earth. For me, this was exactly what I needed. Getting Oakley had family members constantly checking in to see how he was growing, learning, etc. Not only did this encourage more interactions with family and friends, but it also "livened" my husband and I's home life. Instead of the "normal" weekend nights consisting of Netflix and MarioKart, (which are enjoyable in their own respective ways), spending our nights playing Monkey in the Middle with our new four-legged friend has proven much more entertaining.

So ideally was it the right time to get a dog? Probably not. However, adding Oakley to my small little family combated anxiety and depression in ways I wouldn't have ever thought possible.

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From A Rescue Dog: Thank You For Putting Me On A Chain

You tried to keep me chained to a tree, but I found my forever home in someone's arms.


When I was a puppy, I saw different families come to get my brothers and sisters and take them home. I was sad, but I knew my day was coming. I knew that soon, I would have a family come get me. Then, you came. You picked me. I thought it was the happiest day of my life!

When we first got home, you let me stay inside. I thought I was the luckiest puppy in the world. But, I started having accidents in the house. I didn't know any better. I spent all day inside by myself; what was I supposed to do? I also chewed up a few things: sunglasses, shoes, and a hat to be exact. But, isn't that what puppies do? You fussed at me, a lot. I swear I didn't know it was going to make you mad, or I promise I wouldn't have done it. After a few days, you'd had enough. You took me outside. I thought we were going in the yard to play. I didn't know I'd never go inside again.

You took me to a tree in the backyard and attached a chain to my collar. It was so heavy. I didn't know what was happening. You left me a bowl of food and a bowl of water but nothing else. I didn't have a dog house or any toys. I heard you say that I didn't deserve it. I wish you knew how sorry I was. I hated being outside all by myself. I cried all night. I cried every night for a few weeks, but I eventually gave up. It wasn't doing anything.

You used to come to bring me fresh food and water every day, but after a few months, you began to forget about me. You gave me food and water maybe once a week. Do you have any idea how hot I was in the summer? Especially when you forgot to give me more water. The winter was even worse. I was freezing cold every single night. I'd wake up in the mornings covered in frost.

My whole body ached. Your kids would be outside playing, and they wouldn't come near me anymore. I had fleas. I didn't smell good. I probably looked scary because I was so skinny; you could see almost all of my bones. I was heartbroken. When you'd come outside, I'd bark because I wanted your attention. You didn't care... I lived outside on this chain for almost a year. I was hopeless. I was stuck. My heart was broken. I wished you loved me back.

Then, one day while you were all gone, a lady saw me. Neither of us knew it then, but the second she looked into my eyes, I became hers. She had a place in her heart just for me. She noticed I didn't have any food or water, so she gave me some. She was so nice. I got hugs and kisses; I had forgotten what those felt like. She even let me give her kisses back! The lady left, and I was so sad. I thought about her all night. Apparently, she thought about me all night, too. Because, the next day, she came back.

I saw her talking to you, but I didn't know what was going on. She walked over to me and took my collar off. I was a little confused, but it felt so good to not have my neck weighed down by the heavy chain. I jumped on her and gave her so many kisses. She didn't yell at me like you used to. She just smiled with tears in her eyes. She called me to follow her to her car. I looked for you, but you had gone back inside. I wouldn't ever see you again. This was actually the happiest day of my life.

She took me to her home, and she let me go inside. She put me in the bathtub, and I was scared at first, but it felt so good to be clean. After my bath, she gave me food and water. I ate and began to feel much better. She let me sit on the couch with her, and I fell asleep with her rubbing my belly. I woke up, and she took me outside. I was so scared I wasn't going to get to come back in, but I did! She let me come back in. That night, I slept in the bed with her. I was so happy.

This is my life every day now. I get to love her, and she loves me back. I am so thankful that she saved me. I'm not outside in the heat or freezing cold. I'm not hungry or thirsty. I'm not neglected. I'm not abused. I'm with her. I am taken care of.

I hope you never get another dog. You don't deserve one. But, thank you for getting me. Thank you for leaving me on a chain. Without you, I wouldn't have found my forever home. I wouldn't know what love is. I wouldn't get to love my human every single day. She loves me more than you ever could. So, thank you.


A Rescue Dog

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