Kyle Proctor: Why you should get your next pet from an animal shelter
December 24, 2017
Do you like animals? Would you like to save lives? Do you think you'll ever own a pet in your lifetime? If you answered yes to any of these questions, this op-ed is for you.
There are many benefits of adopting a pet from an animal shelter, and some lesser-known reasons to not buy animals from a pet store.
One benefit is that you save lives. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, nearly 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized each year. That's over 4,000 per day! PETA states that animal shelters are often overcrowded and underfunded. Due to this, not all animals can be taken, and some have to be put down.
When you adopt a pet, you create space for one more animal that would have been euthanized. You also don't accidentally support puppy or kitten mills, where profit is placed above the wellbeing of the animals. ASPCA recommends never to buy a pet online or from pet stores, as it is likely they are from unscrupulous breeders.
... a common misconception is, that animals end up in shelters because they behaved badly, were abused, or even were wild. This isn’t true.
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You don't have to vote or be into politics to fix this problem. You have the power to create change through adoption.
Another benefit that comes from adopting is that you save money. I've done some research into the adoption costs of numerous animal shelters in our area, and found that the prices are startlingly low. A animal shelter in our area, Sammie's Friends, charges a $90 adoption fee for dogs, and a $55 fee for cats. In contrast, buying a dog can cost $500 to $1,000, and cats tend to cost about $300 to $1,200, depending on the breed and color. An added bonus is that most animal shelters spay/neuter their pets and have current vaccinations. If you've ever had to fix a pet, you know it isn't cheap. According to PetFinder.com, costs can easily get over $145 in most areas in the U.S.
There is a common misconception about animal shelters that I'd like to clear up. That is, that animals end up in shelters because they behaved badly, were abused, or even were wild. This isn't true.
Some animals in shelters have been abused, and you're likely to find at least one badly behaved animal in a shelter, but many of the animals are house trained and well behaved. Looking at the available cats and dogs from Sammie's Friends, I have found they give a brief biography on each animal they have. They state if its house trained, how it reacts with other animals (including humans), and how much attention it requires.
There is also a large variety of breeds in animal shelters. Looking at the current dog adoption roster for Sammie's Friends, I've seen border collies, German shepherds, Rottweilers, Chihuahuas, Dachshunds and more! I've even seen a Russian Blue cat available for adoption, which can cost up to $600 to buy from a breeder!
There are several animal shelters in our area. Sammie's Friends has cats, dogs, horses, and pigs. Animal Place has goats, sheep, chickens, pigs, and cows. The Northern California Herpetological Society has turtles, tortoises, snakes, and lizards. Rescue for Pet Sake has lots of dogs and cats available for adoption as well. If you're looking for a more traditional pet, such as a cat or dog, there are several shelters that have them. If you want a more exotic pet, there are also several available.
I hope I've convinced you of the benefits of adopting a pet rather than buying one, and hope next time you're looking for an animal to add to the family, you look at animal shelters first.
Kyle Proctor, 16, is a student at Sierra Academy of Expeditionary Learning in Grass Valley.
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