Have you been contemplating adding a pet to your family? Do you find yourself envisioning long walks to the park or imagining the tap of paws and claws hitting the floor? Brining a pet home is a significant decision, whether it's your first pet or your third. Whatever your experience with pets is, or whatever your reasons for seeking a companion are, you'll likely find yourself asking: Where do I look???

Picking up a puppy or kitten from a pet store or breeder may be the first scenario that comes to your mind. After all, this may have been your experience growing up and is usually the narrative presented to us in film and television.

With the rise of advocacy, new legislation restricting puppy mills, and the advent of social media, the conversation surrounding "adoption vs. shopping" has secured a prominent place in public discourse. Is adopting a shelter dog or cat right for you?

Let's get right into it!

Reason # 1: Let's not waste any time. Arguably the most significant benefit of adopting a pet is that you get to save a life. That's right. Animal shelters are chock full of pets looking for a second (or third, or fourth) chance. Many of them have been in shelter homes for far too long, have come from deplorable conditions on the street, or come from abusive homes, and need the tender loving care they deserve. Studies show that roughly three million dogs and cats are euthanized every year in the United States.

Reason # 2: When you adopt of pet, you become a rescue parent! This brings with it a chance for community and bonding with your new pet. Before committing to a pet, you've likely done a fair bit of research on your own (like reading this very article). Joining online groups or social clubs for fellow rescue parents offers the chance to engage in healthy topics and conversations regarding the unique benefits and challenges of owning a rescue pet.

Reason # 3: If you have already owned a pure breed dog or have purchased a puppy or kitten from a breeder, you know that many of these pets come with a high price tag. Many purebred dogs and cats suffer from a wide range of genetic issues due to years of inbreeding. Adopting a mixed breed can not only save you money upfront, but also helps save you money in the long run when it comes to vet bills. As always, this will be dependent on the individual pet's medical history.

Reason # 4: You can become an advocate to stop puppy mills. Puppy mills are areas wherein breeders raise dogs in poor conditions with little regard for their overall health. Most of the time, the mother dogs are malnourished and the puppies are weened from their mothers too early. Profit is the main goal for most puppy mills. These mills provide little to no medical care for the animals and are kept in cages for hours on end, with no opportunity for companionship or play. Choosing to adopt or rescue a dog helps to curb the demand for inhumane breeding.

Reason # 5: Puppies are cute, but they're not for everyone. When you adopt, some pets, especially older ones, may already be potty or litter box trained and well-behaved. They may even already know how to walk on a leash, assuming they came from a home of responsible ownership. Though not always the case, it's a possibility. Be on the look out for some developed personalities too!

dog in cage sticking paw through to touch human hand

Reason # 6: Once you visit a shelter in search of a new pet, you get to pick your own companion! Although we don't want to admit it, there are some pets that just immediately strike your heart once you lay eyes on them. Shelters and rescues tend to have more of a variety then breeders and mills do. Looking around shelters or online adoption sites might introduce you to a dog or cat (or breed) that you would never have considered otherwise.

Reason # 7: Animal shelters are notoriously overcrowded. This lack of space can reduce the quality of care and exacerbate existing health issues. In most cases, shelter dogs and cats are euthanized for no reason other than there is no space for them. Adopting a dog or cat from an animal shelter helps give space to other homeless animals.

Reason # 8: Most importantly, when you adopt a dog or cat, you become an advocate for homeless animals. Chances are you are going to tell your family, friends, and neighbors about the rescue process, how rewarding it is, and how it's changed both you and your pet's life, literally. By doing so, you may encourage others to do the same!

Now that you've learned the top 8 reasons to adopt, not shop, get started on finding your new pet with our Adopt-a-Pet adoption tool, where you can find pet's available for adoption in your local area shelters. Click HERE to get started!

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