The Humane Society of the United States estimates that between six and eight million cats and dogs enter animal shelters each year, and only half of those animals are adopted. While approximately 30 percent of stray dogs in shelters are reclaimed by their owners, there are still millions of dogs euthanized each year because they have no homes. Adopting a shelter dog can save a life.
Animal shelters and pounds take in homeless animals and try to find them homes. According to the Humane Society, between three and four million cats and dogs are killed in the U.S. each year simply because they cannot find homes. The ASPCA states that pet store puppies usually come from mass-breeding operations known as puppy mills. Puppy mills do not test their breeding dogs’ health, and the puppies often have diseases such as epilepsy, respiratory disorders, heart disease and deafness. Purchasing a pet store puppy helps support puppy mills.
According to the Humane Society, shelter dogs are often cheaper and healthier than store-bought dogs. This means the owner saves money from the start, and can save money throughout the life of the dog rather than having large, unexpected vet bills. Another benefit of adopting a dog from a shelter or pound is that it is saving the life of a dog that could be euthanized if it does not find a home.
The Humane Society warns that many pet stores scam their customers into thinking the puppies they sell come from a reputable breeder. While some people may believe this, the only way it can be proven is if the purchaser is able to see the puppy’s parents and the breeder’s home.
According to animal trainer Kathy Diamond Davis, many animal shelters test their dogs’ behavior and temperaments before putting them up for adoption, though this method is not foolproof, and there is often no way to tell a shelter dog’s history. A dog that was beaten in its previous home could become fearful and aggressive if cornered and threatened.
According to the ASPCA, older shelter dogs are often the best choices for pets. Older dogs are calmer than younger dogs, as well as being loving, easy to train, less likely to chew inappropriately and able to settle into a new home relatively easily. The ASPCA says older dogs are often the last ones to be adopted and the first ones to be euthanized in shelters, so adopting an older dog saves a life.