Adopting a Shelter Animal: Is it Right For Me?

Oftentimes I am approached with the question “what do you think about adopting a pet from a shelter?” Here is some food for thought if you are considering shelter adoption.

Save a life! Approximately 3-4 million dogs and cats are euthanized every year in shelters due to limited space and lack of adoptive families.  Contrary to popular belief, most of these animals are in shelters for owner related reasons: divorce, death in the family, illness, a move, or that their owners did not have enough time to train them to help resolve behavioral problems.

Save money!  Most shelters have adoption fees but as you will find these fees are usually less than purchasing a pet from a store or private breeder and keep in mind because most shelters vaccinate, deworm, spay/neuter the animals before adopting them those savings are being passed on to the consumer.  Also, many shelters offer pre and post-adoption counseling services to help you and your new pet get acclimated…for free!

Not contributing to the bad! Many pet stores purchase animals from puppy mills at low cost putting profit over the pet’s welfare.  These animals are housed in poor conditions, overbred, and don’t have sufficient medical care or socialization. This can lead to medical and behavioral issues, which translates to increased future expenses for you.

On the flip side there are some potential negatives in shelter adoption that should be contemplated.  First is that these animals have an unknown history.  We don’t know if they have suffered any abuse lending them to being shy and fearful requiring extra training to resolve.  We don’t know if they get along with other animals, children, or strangers which can be an issue.  Also, they could have inherited behavioral or medical problems that can lead to more expense over time as some of these issues don’t reveal themselves until later in life.

The bottom line is that shelter animals can make great pets!  Keep in mind that finding “the one” may take multiple trips to numerous shelters to find the right chemistry.  Most of all be patient because with the stress of a new home and new people there will be an adjustment period.  Once home, take your new family member to your veterinarian right away to assess your pets general health and to discuss any recommended preventative care.  With your commitment they can find their proper home!

By Tamara Borland V.M.D.