Adopt or Shop

You’ve been struggling with the idea to adopt a pet from a shelter or buy one from a breeder. How do you know what the right decision is? The first thing to consider before getting a pet is you’ll be making a life-long commitment. Depending on the breed and size of the dog most can live well over 10 years and indoor cats can live even longer. According to the ASPCA there are approximately 7.6 million dogs and cats entering shelters every year. That’s twice the amount of people living in Oklahoma. The Humane Society of the United States reports over two million dogs and cats are euthanized every year. That’s about one every 13 seconds. Here are a few thoughts to help you decide:

1. Dogs at shelters or rescues are not “bad dogs”. They don’t necessarily have more health or behavioral issues than a dog you get from a breeder. Some dogs at shelters end up there simply because they grew up and are no longer “cute puppies”. Some puppies end up there because their family didn’t realize these puppies don’t come potty trained. Often, families relocate to residences that “don’t allow pets” or the family has expanded and there’s “not enough time” now. Sometimes it’s because the pet didn’t have proper identification such as a microchip or tag. Then there’s the unfortunate problem of pet overpopulation due to unspayed and/or unneutered pets. So many of these unwanted pets have already been trained and socialized, they’re just looking for their second chance.

2. If you’re looking for a specific breed there are plenty at the shelters and rescue groups! From Chihuahuas to Labradors you’ll be amazed what breeds are available.  According to Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science over a quarter of dogs in shelters are purebred. A quick online search revealed multiple rescues and shelters full of purebred pups in and around Tulsa. Be sure to do research on what kind of dog would best fit your lifestyle. Being a purebred dog doesn’t always guarantee them a life-long home.

3. Not every breeder out there is licensed and legal so as the old saying goes – BUYER BEWARE. “Backyard breeders”, as they’re known, breed dogs illegally and often inhumanely for a quick buck. Their breeding facilities can look legitimate in pictures online which is why it is always recommended if you’re buying from a breeder to tour the facility and meet the puppy’s parents. There are absolutely reputable breeders who take their animals for appropriate veterinary care, but there are many who do not. Be wary if a breeder cannot provide you with appropriate documentation of vaccinations, testing, etc.

4. Pets cost money. There’s no sugar coating it, they cost a lot of money. According to the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine the average cost over the lifetime of a dog can exceed $22,000. On average, smaller breed dogs tend to live longer than larger breed dogs. However, large breed dogs require more food and a higher cost for medications and surgeries due to their size. Most shelters and rescue groups require animals to be spayed or neutered prior to leaving their facility. They also often already test for diseases, parasites and update vaccinations for the cost of the adoption fee. The cost of ownership doesn’t end at the adoption fee though. Routine veterinary care, grooming, boarding, training, food and supplies are needed.

Finally if you’re still on the fence consider fostering. If you don’t want the training that comes along with a puppy or kitten, fostering an adult is a great option. Perhaps your kids really want a puppy but you’re not sure they’re ready for the responsibility – give fostering a try! Regardless, fostering is a great opportunity for you and a pet in need.

Give adoption a chance and you’ll likely end up with the most grateful, adorable and sweetest pet.

By Karen Maricle, Riverbrook Animal Hospital, Tulsa Oklahoma.

Love, The PetsWell Team

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