Why Adopt a Shelter Dog? 11 Reasons Why You Should
When you visit a shelter, you hear the animals before you see them. Amid the noisy throng, you’ll also get a few puppy tongue laps, a brush against the leg from a kitten, and a happy wag of a tail from a potential forever friend.
How can you resist? Despite the fact that you have no idea about the history of that cute canine you’re considering, you can find huge benefits to adopting a shelter dog. Here’s why you might not ever want to consider another option ever again. (Not to mention, can you imagine the tail wagging you’ll experience once you adopt your new furry friend?)
1. You save a life.
Do you need a better reason? All animals at a shelter need a second chance at a loving home. Sadly, every single dog in a shelter is lost or abandoned. Some unwanted strays come from abusive owners. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough homes or shelters for the number of pets born each year and some roam free on the streets. Many people simply cannot afford to get their pets fixed.
To make matters worse, approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized (670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats). There’s good news, however: The number of dogs and cats euthanized in U.S. shelters annually has declined from approximately 2.6 million in 2011 (1), according to the ASPCA. However, that doesn’t negate the fact that so many dogs never get that second chance.
What’s more rewarding than offering a dog your home as its forever home?
2. Working from home? Your timing is perfect.
It’s never been a better time to take these animals from shelters and you help that number decline.
Heartwarmingly, coronavirus helped encourage people living and working from home to foster and adopt pets (2), especially in some of the country's hardest-hit regions: California, Michigan, New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, Texas, Washington, Florida, Georgia, Illinois and North Carolina. Shelters report an outpouring of community support to get animals into loving foster and adoptive homes.
Join the crowd. Who doesn’t want a best friend at their feet under the desk?
3. You discourage mass breeding.
How can you alone do that?
You’ve heard of puppy mills, but how can adopting one puppy from a shelter reduce dependence on puppy mills? Believe it or not, you make a difference. Watch out — puppy mills (and kitten mills) can exist in people’s backyards — not just in facilities. These animals spend their whole lives in cages and often live in inhumane conditions and they’re forced to produce as many litters as they can.
Adopting a shelter animal is one way to avoid supporting mills (even if the animal you adopt was originally born in a puppy mill.)
4. You have the option of getting an older dog.
Forget puddles on the carpet and sharp puppy teeth! Shelter animals come already trained and you don’t necessarily have to deal with biting, chewing, and all the young puppy tricks.
An adult animal might exhibit a calmer demeanor and might even have some tricks up his sleeve — a shelter animal is likely already familiar with “sit,” “stay,” “come” and “no” because shelter employees and volunteers regularly work with these animals and teach them the basics.
5. Shelter animals grow accustomed to other animals.
You may not have to worry about a shelter dog taking off after another dog or biting your neighbor’s chihuahua. Shelter dogs go through socialization training (3), which teaches them how to interact with people and other animals and how to remain calm in stressful situations.
6. You choose from mixed-breed animals.
Mixed-breed animals (you may also call them mutts) are less likely to have received a high dose of any particular breed's genes. Many mixed-breed dogs present a lower rate of health conditions, such as hip dysplasia, spinal diseases, knee problems, cancers, heart disease, and more, compared to their purebred counterparts.
Your mixed-breed pet may live to a ripe old age, thanks to its genetics. Also, consider this as well: mixed-breed dogs often have more moderate temperaments (4) because they were not bred for specific activities like hunting or herding.
7. You’ll get a well-cared-for dog.
From vaccinations to training, experienced and trained staff members take care of shelter animals. In addition, volunteers passionate about shelter animals also care for them and veterinary care is also offered to shelter animals. Any trouble spots shelter animals have (inability to get along with other dogs, aversion to cats or kids, etc.) a technician will likely know about it before you even leave the shelter.
8. You support a nonprofit organization.
While this isn’t usually the first reason you adopt a shelter dog (that fuzzy face is usually the draw) nonprofit organizations play an important role in our society. Nonprofit organizations like animal shelters let you support an important cause — without having to mop out doggie stalls or change litter boxes for lots and lots of animals.
Donating to a nonprofit organization also keeps it going and funded. Every time you donate, you work to save animals in need.
You also get a secondary benefit — feelings of satisfaction. Again, the fuzzy face is usually the draw to supporting a nonprofit organization, but it might just keep you coming back for more. Maybe you decide to adopt more pets from a shelter because of your attachment to your adopted shelter animal, or maybe you decide to donate to the shelter later or volunteer. No matter what, nothing gives you more warm fuzzies than supporting an organization that tugs at your heartstrings.
9. You won’t pay exorbitant amounts of money for a shelter dog.
Purebred animals often cost a lot of money. Tibetan Mastiffs and English Bulldogs both typically cost more than $3,500 to purchase as puppies. You’ll also find that they are among the most expensive to care for and difficult to insure.
Frankly, it’s cheaper to buy a shelter dog.
The Humane Society (5) relies on private donations, fundraising, and standard adoption fees to cover its costs. Take a look at the standard adoption fees for dogs and puppies: $118 to $667² — a far cry from the most expensive purebred dogs.
Dog and cat adoption fees typically include the following:
- General physical examination and behavioral evaluation by veterinary services staff or a veterinarian from a separate off-site clinic
- Canine or feline distemper combination vaccination and bordetella; age-appropriate canines and felines also receive a rabies vaccination
- Deworming medication
- Flea and tick treatment
- Canine heartworm test or feline leukemia test
- Spay/neuter surgery (if needed)
- 60-day return period
- Free medications for the first 14 days (if needed)
- Free collar and ID tag
- Treatment with Frontline or NexGard for fleas and ticks and HeartGuard for heartworms
Check with the shelter in your area to find out exactly what’s included in dogs’ adoption fees. Every shelter varies and may even come with other perks not listed here.
10. You encourage others to head to the shelter as well.
When you walk your dog at the park and people ask where you got your beautiful dog, you can refer them to the shelter. A mention of how well cared for your dog was and the unbelievably helpful staff sends a great message — your dog’s adoption may encourage others to do the same.
11. You can save with SPOT.
Once you take your forever friend home, you know you can find ways to save money with coupons for kibble, a kennel donated from a neighbor, leashes from well-meaning relatives. You can also help protect yourself from future vet bill costs with a pet insurance plan — and you don’t need to complete a medical exam or know your pet’s exact age to enroll. Best of all, you can:
- Customize a plan that works for you.
- Get up to 90 percent of eligible vet bills reimbursed.
- Benefit from a 10 percent multi-pet discount* for all additional pets
- Take advantage of a 30-day money-back guarantee.**
Adopt a Shelter Dog
Give yourself a pat on the back. You should feel good about your choice to help a homeless pet.
Still a little on the fence about a shelter dog? Maybe you’ve never gone to a shelter before or maybe you’re concerned you don’t know “what you’re getting.”
Just remember that no matter what, shelter dogs are taken care of and a professional will be able to tell you a lot about a dog you’re considering adopting. Also remember that shelter dogs get their basic needs cared for, individualized medical treatment, behavioral rehabilitation if necessary and plenty of exercise, treats and love.
*Discount applied to lower premium
**Money-back guarantee not available in NY. Must not have filed any claims within those first 30 days to be eligible for money back.
Guest written by: Melissa Brock, Money editor at Benzinga