Sunday, April 7, 2013

Paws, Claws and Wagging Tails: Benefits of Pet Adoption

Choosing a topic to write about, a blog especially, means you have to have passion and an enormous opinion concerning the topic (if you ask me). So, when my English 250 professor at Iowa State asked us to choose something for our most recent assignment, I knew that very second, in that very minute, sitting in my desk chair that I had exactly no idea what I wanted to write about. However when I was home for the weekend, I visited the local dog shelter where I had previously volunteered in high school. And the first thoughts rushing through my mind where the bonds I formed with all the dogs and how I so badly wanted to rescue all of the animals myself.

The idea was simple, compose this blog, not only in hopes of a decent grade, but to persuade just one other person besides myself to adopt an animal from the shelter rather than purchasing from a breeder. This idea was something that I was most definitely passionate about and wanted others to hear just how important this issue was to me.

In addition to education people about the adoption process, I wanted to enlighten people on the terrible establishments that are puppy mills. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines puppy mill as, "a commercial farming operation in which purebred dogs are raised in large numbers,". These operations need to be put to an end because of the cruel treatment of the animals living within them. 

But enough with the sad puppy photos for now, let's move on to the happy life that you could be sharing with a rescue animal if you choose to adopt rather than purchase. The Healthy Spot Blog explains a few very important reasons as to why you should choose to adopt an animal. These include:

Why not just purchase from a pet store? Pet stores, although seeming like a good place to purchase a "purebred" animal can often be misleading. Most pet shops will merely include a "purebred" tag on an       animal's kennel in order to charge more for that animal.

 What are some of the hidden health problems? Most animals can obtain health problems later in their lives if they from a pet store because it is believed that most "purebred" animals from these establishments are from inbreeding.

 Where you more interested in a purebred animal? People are led to believe that purebred animals are superior to mixed breeds or mutts. But studies have shown that most mixed breeds live longer healthier lives than purebreds.

 What about the money? This is an easy one, adopting a pet is much cheaper than purchasing from a pet store or a breeder. Not only will a shelter dog have all of its shots when you pick it up, but it will most likely be spayed or neutered all well. This is a very important feature seeing as it will be saving you the most money in the long run.

 How would you feel about saving a life? In my opinion this is the most important reason to adopt. Simply enough, by rescuing an animal you will be giving an animal a second chance at a happy and healthy life.

Saving a life is probably the most important reason that someone would choose to adopt rather than purchase. With all of the over populating in shelters around the nation, most animals do not live more than six months in shelter because if they are not adopted they will have to be put down. In an article entitled, "Rates of Euthanasia and Adoption for Dogs and Cats in Michigan Animal Shelters" by Stephen Halstead and others, it outlines the rates of euthanasia and adoption in both cats and dogs in Michigan shelters. "In 2003, Michigan shelters discharged 140,653 dogs: Of these, 56,972 (40%) were euthanized; 40,005 (28%) were adopted." Only 28% were able to find their way to happy home, that number is incredibly low compared to the 40% that unfortunately had their lives ended. The same goes for the number of cats in the Michigan shelters, "Michigan shelters discharged 134,405 cats in 2003: 76,321 (57%) by euthanasia and (24%) by adoption." These numbers could be drastically reduced if only more people would visit a shelter and find their new companion instead of walking into a pet store.

46 Reasons to Adopt (Not Buy!) also outlines a few important and humorous reasons about adopting. A few of my favorites include:

12. Every pet adopted improves the pet overpopulation problem.

18. Pets reduce stress and accept you and your weird habits.

25. Many shelter animals are from homes and know basic commands and are housetrained.

33. You’ll never need to sweep the crumbs off the kitchen floor again.

The site includes more fun reasons as well and if you are considering adoption I encourage you to check it out since this list was written by a normal person who only believes that good things can come out of adopting an animal.

Another article entitled, "Companion Animal Adoption Study" by Laura Neidhart and Renee Boyd, gives a detailed description of the adoption process. It followed people who adopted from shelters and surveyed them during and after their official adoption. It showed an overwhelming number of satisfied pet owners happy with their new companions."Reflecting satisfaction with their companion animal, satisfaction overall with the adoption experience is high among both dog and cat adopters 1 year following the adoption. The overwhelming majority (96% of 156 dog adopters and 98% of 178 cat adopters) were satisfied with their adoption experience overall."

Now that we were able to touch on all of the positive aspects of adopting, I feel its only fair to explain some of the negative aspects of adoption as well. Adopting is not for everyone, it is a process introducing any animal to a new home can be difficult. Wayne Booth is the author of the Dog Training Blog, and owner of Canine Behavior Specialists. In his blog he outlines the negative aspects of adopting an animal.

 When adopting a dog or any other animal from a shelter, there may not be much of a history if any. In other words, you will not know if the animal was neglected or abused. And you will not know if the animal is house broken or has any hidden health problems.

 If you are looking specifically for a purebred animal, they will be difficult to find. Almost all of the dogs in a shelter will be mixed breeds or mutts.

 Lastly, and maybe most importantly, you will be unaware of any behavioral problems an animal may possess. A dog could be aggressive with men or women or children, they could have problems around food and being overprotective when it comes to meeting new people.

These are all important factors to consider when you are choosing adoption.

Although people place a lot of blame on pet stores and breeders, in the over population of shelters, I believe that our biggest problem are puppy mills. These sad and horrible establishments are causing many problems and hurting innocent animals. Puppy mill owners are not out to help animals and find them homes, they are out to make money and they do not care in what ways they have to do so. They have these animals to breed only, and once they do they keep several animals in small, uncomfortable cages that are unfit for housing animals. The ASPCA is working to educate people on the harm that puppy mills have on these innocent animals. The video below gives insight on the horrific nature of the neglect and harm puppy mills have.

People all over the nation are working to put a stop and ban on puppy mills everywhere. There is some progress being made, there is a petition circulating that anyone can sign and be apart of the cause. With enough signatures we can bring attention to this issue in hopes that someday we can be apart of the solution. If you would like to help, click here to sign the petition. Myself and many others have already signed and look forward to the bright future that we can all bring to help end this terrible epidemic.

Thanks for reading, and I hope that you will consider adoption after seeing just how big of an impact you can have on an animal's life. Visit your local shelter and maybe you will find your new best friend!

Even though I am more of a dog lover, I have to say I really do love grumpy cat and felt he should be included. 

Works cited:

Niedhart, Laura, and Renee Boyd. "Companion Animal Adoption Study." Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 5.3 (2002): 175. Academic Search Premier. Web. 1 Apr. 2013.

Stephen Halstead, et al. "Rates Of Euthanasia And Adoption For Dogs And Cats In Michigan Animal Shelters." Journal Of Applied Animal Welfare Science 8.2 (2005): 97-104. Academic Search Premier. Web. 3 Apr. 2013.

Angela. "Healthy Spot Blog." Healthy Spot Blog RSS., 27 May 2011. Web. 1 Apr. 2013. <>.

Booth, Wayne. "The Pros and Cons of Adopting a Shelter Dog." Dog Training Blog Dog Training Information Wayne Booths Dog Training Blogger RSS., 31 Jan. 2011. Web. 1 Apr. 2013. 

Kathy. "46 Reasons Why You Should Adopt (Not Buy!) A Pet, Dog, Cat and Other Pet Friendly Travel Articles." Pets Welcome., 19 Aug. 2012. Web. 1 Apr. 2013. 

"Puppy Mills.", Web. 1 Apr. 2013. <>.

"Nationwide Law Banning Puppy Mills." GoPetition., Web. 1 Apr. 2013. <>.

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