With all the controversy in recent years about puppy mills, more and more people are heading to a local rescue organization or shelter when it comes time to find their next four-legged best friend. And with good reason—from the cost savings to the variety of adoptable pets waiting for their forever homes in shelters, there are lots of reasons to rescue your next pet. Here are 5 reasons to adopt a shelter dog.
- You’ll Save a Life.
First and foremost, when you choose to adopt, you’re saving lives by taking home a homeless animal as well as making room in the shelter for another dog in need. “Doing a good deed is a big part of the reason why adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue is such a great choice—you’re giving a homeless dog a chance at a happy home,” says Christie Keith, social media manager for Shelter Pet Project.
Abbie Moore, chief operating officer of Adopt-a-Pet.com and co-author of The Total Dog Manual and The Total Cat Manual, adds that not only is adoption the responsible thing to do, but many adopters quickly discover that their new furry friend is truly grateful for a new home.
“If you’ve never had the experience of taking a scared, lonely dog out of a shelter and into your car, I can only describe it as sheer joy...for both of you,” she says. “There are so many beautiful little souls in the shelter who really need you. And they’ll repay you a thousand-fold for your generosity in love and loyalty.”
- You’ll Have Support.
Bringing home a dog is a lifelong commitment, and when you enter a shelter or rescue you’ll most likely be provided with plenty of information about the dogs, from their unique personalities and the kind of home they’re best suited for to whether they’re friendly with children and other dogs. According to Zach Baker, director of Rescue Rebuild and program director for GreaterGood.org, adopting a dog is always a great option because of the support you’ll receive in choosing your new best friend. “The staff has had the unique opportunity to get to know each dog’s individual personalities and social cues,” he explains. “Often, shelters can recommend how the dog will be with other dogs, children, and even cats based on these experiences.”
Amy Nichols, vice president of companion animals for the Humane Society of the United States, notes that many shelters also have both trainers and behaviorists on hand who can advise potential adopters on a particular dog to determine if their personality is conducive to your lifestyle. “They are there to guide you into making the decision that’s right for both the animal and for your family,” she says. K9 Training Institute also offers a free training workshop who can assist once you bring your furever friend home.
If you’re looking for a particular breed, shelters can help by tapping into their vast network to find the perfect dog for you. “There are so many animals across the country looking for a home, and if you have your heart set on a German Shepherd, shelters and rescues will make it happen for you—they can connect you with a breed-specific rescue, even if it’s across the country, and help you find the dog of your dreams,” Nichols adds.
- You’ll Save Money
When you choose to adopt rather than buy a pet store puppy, you’re almost guaranteed to save a substantial amount of money. Many shelters will cover the first year of vaccines, spay/neuter fees, and microchipping costs as part of the nominal adoption fee they request from adopters.
“Most shelters also offer a variety of resources to assist adopters after taking their new pet home, such as behavior support, a complimentary veterinary exam, or even pet insurance,” says Rebecca Smith, adoptions manager for the San Diego Humane Society.
- You’ll Find Variety
Keith notes that one of the best reasons to visit a shelter is that you’ll find a wide variety of dogs to potentially take home with you. “From big to small, quiet to energetic, mixed breed to purebred, you’ll find dogs of all shapes, sizes, and ages that have unique stories and histories…so it’s very likely that you’ll find the ideal human-animal bond you’re searching for in one of those dogs,” she says.
Something else you won’t find in most pet stores are adult dogs. “Puppies are adorable, but they’re a ton of work. Not everyone is ready to take on a project like that,” Moore explains. “With young and adult dogs, what you see is what you get. They’ve already developed their personalities and temperament, so it’s easy to imagine what an adult dog will be like in your home.”
- You’ll Find a Forever Best Friend
Another thing to note is that millions of pets enter United States animal shelters each year and most of these animals are happy, healthy, and behaviorally sound—and, contrary to popular belief, shelters are also full of purebred pets, Smith notes.
“Many dogs end up in shelters through no fault of their own, from housing problems to divorce or some other major life change in their first owner’s life,” Keith concludes. “Many people assume shelter dogs have behavior problems or other issues, but more often than not they are the dog who will play with your kids and sleep at the foot of your bed…and they’re just waiting for you to come and bring them home.”