I was recently asked to write about the Shelter Pet Project which is an organization/ad campaign that encourages people to adopt their next pet. Since there is not much I feel more strongly about I agreed!
So why get a pet from a shelter or rescue? Better yet, why not?
Essentially, there really isn't anything an adopted dog or cat can't do that a "purchased" pet can. If you are looking for a companion why spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a dog that you essentially just want to pet and take for walks? If you want an agility or other performance dog I think it has been shown again and again a rescue dog can do just as well a high dollar dog. I've seen plenty of MACh and NATCH dogs with no papers or pedigrees. If you want a purebred dog you can find those too-there are plenty in shelters and breed rescues. If you want a particular color, coat, size, etc they are all out there if you spend a bit of time looking. And if you consider an adult dog you will know exactly what size it will be, what kind of coat it has, what it's temperament is like and more. If it has been in a foster home it may be house-broken, crate-trained, etc. And for less than the price of most "purchased" pets it will probably already have some or all of the following done: spayed/neutered, vaccinated, dewormed, heartworm tested, and microchipped.
If you simply look long enough you will find what you want, or maybe even a kind of dog you would not have considered. Some people spend lots of time looking for the right dog from the right breeder, why not spend that time looking for the right dog from a shelter? And if you are doing the impulse buy or getting a dog from a newspaper ad, pet store, parking lot sale or breeder you haven't researched then you are really just supporting the puppy mills and backyard breeders. Why not save a life instead? Be a part of the solution, not the problem.
We had someone look at one of our very sweet, healthy, social rescue puppies this weekend at the trial. She has the personality and play drive and fearlessness to make a great agility prospect. The person's companion said why would you want that dog when you don't know anything about it's genetics and bloodlines? Really? So a perfectly wonderful puppy should be denied a home and be allowed to die in a shelter because we don't know who its parents are? There are plenty of dogs that come papers that also come with problems. And plenty of homeless pets whose only problem is irresponsible breeders and owners who allowed them to end up on death row. Don't be that person. Have an open mind. Look at all the great rescue dogs around you.
And I know there are plenty of people reading this who are thinking yeah, that's nice, I hope those dogs all get homes, what a great story, yadda, yadda yadda. But some of you will still go on and get your next dog from a breeder. As if a rescue dog is good enough for someone else but not good enough for you. Well, you would be wrong. Take a look around you. It's not just old, ugly, mean dogs in shelters. Don't ignore the problem. Don't shop. Adopt. It won't just be the dog's life that you change.