For three years I’ve woken up each morning to be met with an eager greeting and wet nose at the bottom of my stairs from Dakota, my best friend, comforter, and companion- but most importantly- my rescue dog. Tragically, 1.5 million animals like Dakota are euthanized each year, according to the American Society of Prevention for Cruelty of Animals (ASPCA).
Helpless cats and dogs are being put down due to extreme overcrowding of shelters, puppy mill sales at pet stores and purchasing animals through breeders; depending on the breed, purebred dogs are being purchased for hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Meanwhile, adoptable pets that are suffering and need homes are being overlooked. Spending their nights curled up on concrete or behind wire bars in unsanitary, unsafe, and uncomfortable conditions, many dogs and cats are days away from the shot that will take their life, only to be replaced by the next inmate, in an endless and cruel cycle.
All over the world, pets are being abandoned, lost, forgotten and abused. Most of these situations land the animal behind the doors of shelters, where they face an uncertain fate. Yet, people still choose to shop for animals, opting for pricey “designer dogs” and cats that are in absolutely no danger and do not need to be saved. This needs to stop. There are so many amazing animals occupying local shelters, desperate for food, comfort, a home, but most importantly, a friend.
Oftentimes people wander into pet shops on a whim and purchase a dog on the spot. Little do these people know that 99 percent of these animals come from puppy mills. Puppy mills are places that lock dogs in cages and force them to breed and produce as many puppies as possible in the shortest amount of time, for maximum profit.
According to ASPCA, 20 percent of puppies that are born in puppy mills die before they can even be put up for sale, and the animals that do survive are ridden with unspoken health conditions that will affect their development and quality of life. If you purchase a pet from a pet store or breeder, without knowing their background, you are feeding into this inhumane cycle and supporting abusive breeders as a result. On the other hand, if you adopt a cat or dog from a rescue shelter, you will learn many aspects of their personality, habits, and behavior before you even sign the adoption papers, giving you the opportunity to make an informed decision and find a pet that will seamlessly fit into your life and family.
There is no downside to adoption. When you choose to adopt, not only are you saving a life, you are helping to clear room for another animal in need that is at risk of euthanization. Adoption is less expensive than purchasing a pet, and many animal shelters even offer low cost veterinary care.
No animal, cat, dog or species of any kind should be put to sleep because of breeder and puppy mill competition. No animal should be forced to spend their days locked in a shelter scared and alone. So, next time you are considering adding another pet to your life, stop and think for a moment.
Maybe instead of calling up that expensive breeder you heard about from a friend, how about taking a stroll around your local animal shelter, and who knows? Maybe that simple decision will change your life. I know Dakota has changed mine.