It’s May and that means its National Pet Month here in the US! We get a whole month to celebrate the benefits of having companion animals, with a focus on pet adoption and rescue. According to AVMA’s 2017-2018 AVMA Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook, there are approximately 144,649,424 dogs, cats, birds and horses owned by US households! And that is only the numbers surveyed and limited to those four animal types. Needless to say, there is a definite mutual bond that humans and animals share.
Why do we keep pets?
Evidence of the domestication of animals can be trace back possibly as far back as over 10,000 years ago according to archeological records and research. At what point humans began to keep domesticated animals as pets is not clear, but most indications point to dogs as being the first animal to make the jump over to companion status.
For many, the relationship can be a powerful emotional support aid. For others it is the act of being able to care for someone else. Still others it can be a statement of “status” and serve as a vehicle to help them communicate with other humans. The many reasons are varied and complex, but if it were to be simplified, perhaps for many: pets simply make us happier.
Ok, I want a pet. Why choose a shelter animal?
Aside from the emotional and psychological benefits you may receive from helping an animal and letting them into your home, the benefits to the animal are even greater. Here are some great reasons to adopt:
- You can save lives.
A Humane Society of the United States 2018 study estimates that 2.4 million healthy, adoptable cats and dogs are euthanized each year in the US because of a lack of homes. Any effort to reduce that number is something worth considering.
You not only save the live of the animal you choose to adopt, but the act also frees up space at the shelter or rescue facility for another animal! Each individual adoption may be a small gesture in the grand scheme of things, but added up, it lessens the burden on the system overall, enabling more care and services to be utilized by animals in need.
- It can be more affordable.
In many cases, when you adopt a pet, the costs of spaying/neutering, initial vaccinations are included in the adoption price. Also, many animals who end up at shelters are already housebroken or litter-trained and that can save you money in the long run on training and cleaning bills.
You aren’t giving support to puppy mills.
Not limited to just dogs, but cats and other animals, the term “mill” is applied to operations involving animals commercially bred for profit. Unlike reputable breeders who treat the welfare of their animals as paramount, these “mills” treat dogs and cats as a commodity ignoring the proper care required. It is important to understand this distinction.
The Humane Society of the United States defines the main characteristics of a puppy mill as “emphasis on quantity over quality, indiscriminate breeding, continuous confinement, lack of human contact and environmental enrichment, poor husbandry, and minimal to no veterinary care.” Unsuspecting pets owners often don’t even know that the animal they are purchasing at a pet shop, online or through a classified ad was bred at one of these mills. The industry is notoriously deceptive in its business practices and absolutely does not have the animal’s welfare in mind. They are driven by profit and the animals that are used for breeding lead terrible lives.
You are helping the organizations that are helping animals in need.
The adoption fees that you pay a shelter go to helping support the operation, fund supplies and resources for the animals in need and helps keep the lights on! In addition to donating to a cause you support, you can also help by choosing to adopt a loving pet, opening up a space at the shelter and providing a good home to someone.
These are terrific animals!
Most inhabitants that end up at shelters and rescue groups, are there because of a human-related circumstance like moving to new place, or getting sick and being unfit to care for them. It was not because the animal did anything wrong. Many of the animals are already used to living with families and other pets and will already be housebroken. Most shelter workers will also be able to answer your questions because they have observed the animal and can let you know if they are good with people or other animals, prefer to be solitary etc.
So if you are looking to #pawitforward and are thinking of bringing a new or another pet into your home, do yourself and a great animal a favor and look into adopting from your local shelter or rescue organization.