Tomorrow is the 6 year anniversary of my adopting Hewitt. You can learn more about the whole adoption story here. At least once a year I like to blog about the benefits of adopting a pet versus buying a pet from a breeder. There are, literally, thousands of homeless animals in the United States. Breeders continue to breed puppies (some of them in less-than-ideal conditions) even though so many of them still haven't found homes yet.* It's sad, really.
However, I think most people understand the concept of adopting an animal, so I won't waste this post on explaining it. I do want to use this post, however, to explain some of the myths of animal adoption. Now, I'm referring in the below to dogs...because I adopted a dog (and am allergic to cats) but it could apply to cats, horses, birds, pigs, rabbits, etc. There are so many animals waiting to be adopted!
1. You can't get a purebred dog from a rescue group or shelter. Friends, this is so not true. In fact, there are rescue organizations that are geared specifically towards rescuing and adopting out specific breeds. From Labrador Retriever Rescues to Bichon Frise's and Friends Adoption League, you can find ANY breed of dog that you are looking for WITHOUT having to go through a breeder. You can find breed-specific rescues here. Even if you think you've got very specific needs, you can find one that is perfect for you. I had to have a non-shedding (allergies) dog under 20lbs that was already trained and I found him!
But if a mixed breed is more your style, there are definitely a lot of those too!
You know the dog in the Traveler's Insurance commercial that "insures" his bone? Yep. He's a rescue dog. Benji from the Benji movies, Petticoat Junction and the Beverly Hillbillies? He was a rescue. All of the dogs in the Pedigree commercials? All rescues. My own little Hewitt is a mixed breed (probably Lhasa Apso mix).
If you're gearing more towards a "mutt" or a Heinz 57 dog (as my mama says) then there are some CU-UTE options out there.
2. You can't train or housebreak a shelter dog. This is so bogus. In fact, most adult shelter dogs are already housebroken and/or have basic obedience skills BEFORE they are adopted out. This is done in an effort to make them more "adoptable" but also to teach them obedient behaviors early. I can't tell you how much I loved that my Hewitt was housetrained already. No inside accidents and no $$ spent on Puppy Pads!
3. Shelter dogs are mean, weird or damaged. Nope again. Now, I will say that some shelter dogs do come out of bad situations/home life and may require a bit more socialization and training than others, but the adopting agency/foster parents are very good about explaining this when you adopt. They'll tell you if the dog has phobias (thunder, other animals, etc) or if it is skittish around men or children. Most of these characteristics can be changed with proper rehab. However, the majority of shelter dogs are either born in the shelter to a mom that was relinquished or they were relinquished by owners for financial, emotional reasons. These dogs aren't damaged at all. They are perfectly "normal".
4. Shelter dogs cost a lot of money. No way! Most of the time shelter dogs are CONSIDERABLY less money than dogs purchased from breeders PLUS they usually already have had their shots/vaccinations from their rescue agency or foster parent. So that's another up-front cost that is avoided by adopting instead of buying.
Dogs are precious and wonderful no matter where they come from...a breeder or a shelter. Dogs help to give our lives meaning and direction. I can't imagine my life without my Hewitt and I'm thankful that he was "handpicked" for me. If you or someone you know is considering getting a puppy/dog, please consider adoption. There is a puppy or dog out there waiting!
For more information regarding animal adoption visit these sites for more info:
American Humane Society
Loving Care Pets
Pedigree's Adoption Page
*I don't intend to offend any breeders or anyone who has purchased a dog from a breeder. I just can't, in good conscience, do so.