Adopt, Don’t Shop

A young puppy huddled down on the rocky mountainside. He had never had a home, not to mention a name. He whimpered, but no mother came to comfort him. He was alone. The wind howled like a wolf separated from its pack. Life had changed. There are about 10,000 puppy mills in the US, although only 2,024 are licensed. Only from the licensed facilities, 1,075,900 puppies are born each year. Lots of those dogs end up in shelters, even though 30% of lost dogs are found and reclaimed by owners at shelters. Adoption gives you a chance to save lives and stop an extremely cruel industry.

It is a common misconception that animals end up in shelters because they have done something “wrong”. Actually, things like a move or lack of time are among the most common reasons people give up their pets. Because only 20% of people adopt their dogs from shelters, and because too many people give up their pets, almost 2.7 million dogs and cats are euthanized each year from the lack of space in shelters. This number could be reduced dramatically if more people adopted from shelters. By adopting you can save the lives of two animals –the pet you adopt and a stray who can be adopted because of the space you helped free up.

Can you imagine your pet dog living his or her entire life locked up in a small wire cage with no human companionship, toys or comfort, and little hope of ever joining a family? That is what life is like for a puppy mill breeding dog. Puppy mills are “factory style” dog breeding facilities were dogs are housed in shockingly poor conditions and with improper medical care. Do not attempt to “rescue” a dog from a puppy mill by buying him. They will find another dog to replace the one you “rescued” and your money will directly support puppy mills and ensure that they will keep operating. Adopting a dog is the surest way to strike a blow against puppy mills. If everybody adopted from shelters, puppy mills would stop operating, and wouldn’t torture dogs anymore.

Often the reason people do not adopt from shelters is that they want to know exactly how big their  new pet will be, how much it will shed, how energetic  it will be, how friendly, or how vulnerable to diseases. In other words, they want a purebred. Although DNA tests are always available, there are cheaper ways. Since a dog’s paws and ears don’t grow nearly as much as the rest of the body, you can easily judge the size. By stroking him from the back to the neck and looking at how much fur comes out on your hand, you can tell how much he will shed. Shelters usually find out about the temper and energy before letting dogs be adopted, so you can find the perfect pet for your lifestyle.

People should always adopt their pets instead of buying them because, that way you can not only save two lives, but also take one step forward to prevent the very inhumane business of puppy mills. Shelters are full of happy, healthy animals, just waiting to be adopted. From pit bulls to collies, and Chihuahuas to the Great Dane, you are sure to find your perfect match.

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