This I Believe
I believe in adopting pets from shelters and not from pet stores or breeders. With the recent Vick scandal I’ve found myself engulfed in animal cruelty news and prevention letters. ‘Animal Cops’ is my new favorite show and I plan to study veterinary medicine in college. Animal rights have overwhelmed my life recently and I can’t seem to let it go.
It all started with those Sarah McLachlan ASPCA commercials. You know them, the ones with her song “Angel” playing in the background with the pictures of pathetic dogs with upper respiratory infections and cats with one eye. Those commercials break my heart and since I have no money to donate I figured I’d donate some of my own time instead.
I went to the Atlanta Humane Society Volunteer Orientation in November of ’08 and fell in love with everything around me. We were able to tour the shelter and see all the animals. The most amazing thing to me was that no matter what these animals had been through before they were rescued they all had rebounded successfully. The animals were all begging for attention and love, pawing at their cage doors pleading for a warm hand. Of course the immediate reaction for anyone who sees a room full of puppies is to automatically squeal and jump for joy, yes even guys do it, but at the shelter after the giddiness subsided, I slowly began to realize that all these puppies and these dogs had been beaten, abandoned, starved, or all of the above. Suddenly I felt more sympathy than anything, it was impossible for me to try and understand how someone could treat such an adorable animal with such hate.
According to the HSUS, approximately 6 million to 8 million animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year, and approximately 3 million to 4 million are euthanized. Half of the animals you see in a shelter will be adopted, but the other half will be euthanized just because there is not enough room in a shelter to hold all of them. A theory as to why there are so many animals in shelters is because of the pet overpopulation problem.
As people refuse to spay or neuter their animals, more and more animals are being born every day. The HSUS has calculated that in six years, one female dog and her offspring can give birth to hundreds of puppies. And in seven years, one cat and her young can produce hundreds of kittens. If you do not spay or neuter your animals, hundreds of puppies and kittens will be born, and not all of them will get loving homes. Think about this, the cost of spaying and neutering a pet is less than the cost of raising puppies or kittens for one year. Unfortunately people aren’t spaying or neutering their pets as they should. These stray cats and dogs that were born from unneutered or unspayed animals are living on the streets and the shelters are having to save them.
Getting an animal from a shelter has an inconceivable amount of perks. Of course when you pick an animal from a shelter you’re picking an animal that really, really needs you. You’re picking an animal that is begging for attention and will give you an overload of love.
Since shelters need people to adopt from them, they make the deal of adopting a shelter animal even sweeter. The shelters of America try to make good matches between people and animals and to place pets in guaranteed lifelong homes. Many shelters provide adoption counseling and follow-up assistance, like pet parenting and dog-training classes, medical services, and behavior counseling. Another advantage to shelter adoptions is that it usually costs a lot less than getting an animal from a pet store or breeder. The animal is also more likely to be vaccinated, dewormed, and spayed or neutered.
Adopting an animal from a shelter rather than a breeder or pet store almost guarantees the animal will have a good, informational medical history, will already be spayed or neutered and will give you the love that they’ve needed to express their entire lives. The great thing about adopting from shelters is that it also makes you feel good. You feel as though you’re doing something really good for these animals and the shelters that have kept them. For the love that you put into the relationship with your pet you’ll get it back tenfold. It makes you feel good and it makes the animal feel good, so next time buy an animal from a shelter and feel the love you deserve.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.