Why Adopt From A Shelter?
At the big-picture level, there are many good reasons to consider adopting a dog from a shelter. You save a life, for one thing. Far too many healthy and behaviorally sound animals, dogs included, are euthanized in shelters every year because of overbreeding and lack of resources to look after them for more than short periods of time. So, when you bring home a dog from a shelter, you help break the cycle of pet overpopulation and ensure that you don’t unwittingly support puppy mills or other mass breeding facilities. That’s the 20,000-foot view. But there are many closer-to-home reasons to visit your local shelter, too. For example, shelters usually have a greater variety of dogs—specific breeds, marvelous and mysterious mutts, puppies, youngsters, adults. Most facilities also do thorough health checks and behavior screening. They vaccinate, spay or neuter, and microchip dogs before they put them up for adoption, adding up to a great bargain for you.
Beyond that, consider that the majority of dogs who end up in shelters do so only because of unfortunate circumstances. Their guardians took ill or died or had to move for work to a place that doesn’t allow pets. Someone in the family developed severe allergies or perhaps were overwhelmed caring for a new baby or sick relative. Or maybe financial circumstances changed to the point where providing for a dog was no longer possible. These and many other twists of human fate land dogs in shelters every day. Which is why most dogs up for adoption from shelters are healthy, affectionate, and well socialized, with the basic training and cooperative skills needed for harmonious family life.
All this makes adoption a potential triple-win situation. A dog gets a loving home, you get a great four-legged buddy, and a complex problem is reduced by a factor of one. The key to reaching this happy state, however, is to think like a matchmaker when visiting the local shelter. Don’t drown in the first pair of pleading eyes. Factor in lifestyle and temperament compatibility and you drastically increase the chances of a happy, life-long relationship. Plus, preparedness is the best defense against the urge to take home every dog in the shelter.