October is Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month, what better time to get busy finding that perfect next member of your family. Four-legged member, that is. And cat lovers, fear not – while June is the official Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat Month, there’s no reason to wait! There are hundreds of cats and dogs waiting right now for their furrever home, at a rescue shelter near you.
Rescues come in all sizes, ages, and breeds
Puppies, kittens, adult dogs and cats, even guinea pigs, rabbits, lizards can all find themselves in need of a new home, for a wide variety of reasons. Is one of them your next pet? It should be, whether you’re looking for a couch potato or a travel companion.
Looking for a purebred dog? Every breed has its special fans, which is why you can easily find rescue groups devoted to your favorite type of canine. And even purebred dogs can go astray, then suffer the ultimate indignity of never being reclaimed by their owner. It’s unthinkable, we know, but it can be a big win for you.
Skip the sketchy pet sources
Few things are cuter than puppies and kittens, which is why pet stores sell them. But the truth behind those adorable babies is that they probably came from a puppy mill (or kitty mill) – places that operate like a production factory and treat animals no better than a piece of equipment. When you pick a pet like this, you’re supporting and perpetuating these puppy and kitten mills.
Enlightened pet stores that actually care about their customers – your family’s pets – team up with local rescue shelters to find quality, loving, permanent homes. In fact, a recently-passed law in California requires pet stores to do this.
Online pet sources are not a good choice, either. While there are people who legitimately list pets on websites such as Craigslist, sadly most of them are scams. The Better Business Bureau says as many as 80% are fraudulent. No matter what the listings say, there is no puppy, just a phony opportunity to take your money. Some of these scammers even hijack the names and logos of real businesses to lull you into thinking they are legit. They are not.
Of course, you can purchase a purebred dog from a breeder. If that’s your choice, check them out thoroughly to be sure they are a reputable, recognized professional, not a backyard breeder.
Meet-and-greets are crucial
We all have different personalities, pets included. So not every dog or cat out there is an ideal fit for your family or lifestyle. Rescue pets offer two huge advantages here:
- Shelter staff, rescue groups, and pet foster parents spend time interacting with each animal. They assess its personality and its social skills with people and other animals. They get puppies -- and adult dogs, if needed -- started on potty and obedience training. So you get a new furry family member that’s a great match for you.
You can be sure of that, because reputable shelters and rescue groups provide space and time for you to meet your prospective new pet before making a final decision. You should never take in a pet unless you know how it will respond to your family, both two- and four-legged members.
- They also provide veterinary care, healing sick and injured strays, vaccinating pets, and neutering them to help prevent even more unplanned populations of puppies and kittens. Rescue shelters ensure every pet is microchipped, too.
When you acquire a pet from some other source, you have no idea what you’re getting. It might be a wonderful dog or cat, or it might be sick or have serious behavior problems.
You could save a life
Although their numbers are dwindling, thanks to public concern and outcry, there are still shelters that euthanize animals who aren’t adopted quickly enough. When you choose a pet from one of these facilities, you are literally saving the life of that dog or cat.
Dogs and cats are domesticated animals. While their ancestors may have been wild, they are no longer equipped with the instincts and abilities necessary to survive in the wild. Even if they are able to hunt, they are susceptible to countless pests and diseases, not to mention the very real risks posed by cars and trucks. Picked up as strays, these dogs and cats get a new lease on life.
And they know it. Even animals who have had the worst possible start in life, suffering abuse, neglect or simply trying to make it on their own, bond surprisingly easily with humans who are kind to them. They will repay your kindness and warm home with years of companionship. You won’t find a more loyal pet than a rescue.