So you’ve decided to bring another dog or cat into your home. You know where and how you’ve found animals before so you tend to gravitate to what has worked for you in the past. If you haven’t cared for a pet before, you may take advice from friends or family members on how best to proceed. There are plenty of options out there. You can buy from breeder, you can search through newspaper ads or you can go to a local pet store. Or you can take a long, hard look at why you really want to bring an animal into your home and into your life and find that adoption from a shelter or a rescue group is your best option.
We Americans love our companion animals. We spend billions of dollars each year for their care and most of us consider them family members. In spite of our obvious devotion to our pets, our behavior often does not reflect what we say we value. In any given year, approximately 6 to 8 million animals end up in buildings we call “shelters” which are funded by our tax dollars or by our private donations. Some of those animals will be reunited with their families and some will be adopted. Most - close to 4 million of them - are destroyed every year. Because the word “euthanasia” is often used to describe this process, it leads to a type of deductive reasoning that goes something like this: animals die in shelters so it must be that
1) they are suffering; or
2) they are so aggressive that they are truly dangerous; or
3) we simply have too many of them
It is inconceivable to most of us that the very animals we claim to love, and who are unfortunate enough to end up in a shelter, are destroyed because they are homeless. That is exactly what happens in communities across the country each and every day. A very small number of the animals we destroy are actually suffering or are truly dangerous (as opposed to just being incredibly scared). The vast majority of animals killed each year are considered “savable,” meaning that they are healthy and treatable. Many of the animals which end up in shelters and with rescue groups are actually someone's pet and they have simply become lost or displaced, unable to be identified because they are not microchipped and are not wearing an indentification collar or tag.
It has been said that “adoption could in theory replace all population control killing right now – if the animals and potential adopters were better introduced.” When the time comes for you to bring a "new to you" animal into your life, consider making adoption your best option. If you were planning to purchase a purebred animal, think realistically about whether you plan to enter the animal in professional dog or cat shows or if you are more focused on the companionship of the animal. If the animal will be a pet and will not compete in breed competitions, you can find a wide variety of animals at your local shelter or with a rescue group. Shelters and rescues help both mixed breed animals and purebred animals (it is estimated that 25-30% of homeless animals are purebred). You can use web sites like Petfinder.com or AdoptaPet.com to search for homeless animals by location, breed, gender, size, age and temperament to find a homeless animal who is perfect fit for you and your family.