There are countless benefits of adopting a pet for an individual … many obvious. Such as the positive impact on personal wellbeing. What is not so obvious are the broader community benefits when you pay a visit your local animal shelter or rescue center.
These are the benefits we all reap when each of us makes the choice to adopt, rather than buying privately.1. Reducing Overpopulation by Reducing Demand
There are simply not enough willing homes to accommodate the number of domesticated animals. There are an estimated 1 million dogs and cats euthanized each year in the US alone. Of these, 80% were fit for adoption.
Supply follows demand. Reduce demand for ‘new’ pets by taking your business to your local animal rescue or shelter. Although far from a perfect correlation, if we all did this, a reduction in overall supply will follow.
2. Reducing Overpopulation by Limiting Reproduction
Adoption supports spaying and neutering, which is critical in reducing the number of unwanted animals. Adopting from a shelter generally means these procedures have already been undertaken (although you should always check). Certainly, for more than half of the states in the US, this is a requirement before shelters can offer a pet for adoption.
This is a particularly large factor in controlling pet overpopulation in underserved communities, where accessible and affordable pet care is clearly a significant barrier. According to the Humane Society, there are 23 million pets living in underserved communities in the US. Of these, 87% have not been spayed or neutered. Far higher than the average outside these communities.
It’s likely that if you purchase a pet from a store, online, or through a classified ad, you’re getting one that’s been bred in a puppy or kitten mill. These mass breeding ‘facilities’ prioritize profit over welfare. Mothers are forced to breed until they’re no longer of use and the conditions are notoriously poor. As a result, these little pet pals can grow up sick or behaviorally troubled.
Of course, there are many legitimate breeders too. And people will often turn to them for specific breeds. If that’s your inclination, it’s worth remembering that purebreds are also available through breed-specific shelters and rescues.4. Saving Two Lives for The Price of One
When you adopt a pet from an animal shelter, you’re almost certainly saving its life (and without a doubt giving it a better one). But there’s potentially another life you’re saving, too. By freeing up a place in the shelter, you’re also making room for the next occupant. As an added benefit, the adoption fee you pay helps with the longevity of the shelter and may enable it to provide better ongoing care.4. Limiting Damage to Our Fragile Ecosystem
More room in shelters has broader benefits for our ecosystem, too. For example, the black-footed ferret was nearly driven to extinction by canine distemper from feral dogs. Not surprisingly, stray dogs are also one of the most common predators in human areas, harming local wildlife.
Typically, pets from a shelter will have had all their shots (or the shelter will provide the service for a small fee). By keeping strays out of the environment, and providing the necessary shots and vaccinations, shelters (and those who adopt from them) can help protect the environment.
As a final thought, it’s a common misconception that animals end up in shelters or rescues because they've been abused or have behavioral issues. In fact, most animals are there through no fault of their own. Typically as a result of owner-related issues such as a move, illness, divorce, financial constraints, or a simple lack of time to dedicate to their pet.
The American Pet Products Association (APPA) estimates that only 31% of cats and 23% of dogs are sourced from an animal shelter or humane society. Clearly, this leaves significant scope for us to all benefit from of a visit to our local shelter or pet rescue center.
As you can tell, we’re big fans of animal rescues and shelters here at Pooch & Poodle. So much so we created our own ‘animal shelter’ design (which we’ll be sharing soon). So you can show your support, too.
We do hope you’ll join us in promoting local shelters and rescue centers across our great nation … and the globe.