NALLS: Adopt a dog, gain a best friend

While a mutt from the pound may not be the purebred dream, adoption is much more rewarding and ethical

op-PuppiesinShelter-CourtesyFEMAPhotoLibrary

Benefits of adoption include the benefit to other dogs and families, less business for puppy mills and the life you have saved.

Courtesty FEMA Photo Library

Dogs are mankind’s loyal companion and trusty partner. For centuries, our canine companions have hunted, explored the Earth and even served in the line of duty alongside us. Faithful to the end, dogs unfortunately do not always receive this same loyal treatment from their owners. Instead, families will eagerly purchase adorable puppies on special holidays such as Christmas, then surrender them when they realize the amount of work which goes into taking care of a growing animal. Abandonments typically occur because of simple behavioral issues, such as loud barking or the need for attention. As a result, the amount of dogs admitted to animal shelters each year adds up to a whopping 3.3 million. Of these, about 670,000 are euthanized. A key reason to adopt rather than buy a dog is to curb the amount of annual euthanizations, giving these dogs a chance.

With 44 percent of American households owning a dog as a pet (compared to 35 percent who own a cat), dogs are highly popular throughout the country. Over a third of these dogs are procured from breeders, whereas less than a quarter come from animal shelters or humane societies. As someone who has wanted nothing more than a happy, white and fluffy Samoyed for years, I empathize with the desire to buy purebred dogs directly from a breeder. Important to note, however, is the simple fact that just because we want something, doesn’t make it the right choice. There are several important reasons that support adopting from a shelter over purchasing from a breeder. Along with the financial difference, other important reasons include the benefit to other dogs and families, less business for puppy mills and the life you have saved.

Personally, I hope to have a dog as soon as possible after graduation. As a first-generation college student perpetually short on funds, however, I realize the financial burden of purchasing an animal. A Samoyed from a reputable breeder would cost between $1,000 - $1,600. In general, any purebred dog costs between $500 to $2,000 — much more than the typical college graduate can afford. Fortunately, adopting a dog is a better financial decision. Rather than paying up to $3,000 for a “perfect” purebred, adoption is around $160 to $623, and oftentimes it’s sponsored entirely. For hopeful dog owners, this leaves spare cash they can use to take care of their new canine friend, such as to cover the costs of anything from vaccines to squeaky toys. This is a better option than purchasing the dog, which often results in an inability to afford to further care for it. The money saved from adopting rather than buying may go towards medicine and a clean space to live — essential to caring for a dog. This magnifies the importance of the money saved from adopting. 

The impact of adoption does not stop with the owner. On the contrary, adoption affects the lives of other animals and people. Adopting a dog eases the pressure on overburdened shelters. By choosing to take a dog off a shelter’s hands, room is opened for others to come in, giving these other animals a second chance. In addition, any fees from the adoption process go directly towards the shelter’s efforts to house, care or advertise more animals to increase adoptions. Although small, these funds go a long way, as shelters are underfunded and stretched on resources. Ultimately, adopting a dog increases the chances of other dogs getting adopted.  

A business born and developed in the shadows, adopting a dog reduces the demand for dogs from puppy mills. Aiming to capitalize on the high demand for puppies, these mills breed dogs at unsustainably high rates in order to turn profit. As a result, the conditions within these mills can be appalling. Some dogs will go their entire lives without seeing the light of day — whether by never leaving the interior of the mill or by losing eyesight in both eyes from the inhumane conditions. While the Humane Society of the United States estimates there are at least 10,000 puppy mills operating throughout the country, the real amount is unknown. The market largely operates underground, and is therefore difficult to estimate. Unfortunately, pet stores still procure puppies from these mills on a national level. Using data collected by the US Department of Agriculture, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals developed a database which compiles this information. By choosing to adopt, the possibility of indirectly purchasing from a puppy mill is avoided altogether, killing the demand for such ruthless practices.

While adopting a dog is financially safer, a benefit to others and a blow to puppy mills, one final reason significantly separates adopting from buying — adopting gives dogs another chance at life. Dogs who are not euthanized will spend years waiting for an individual to care for them. Adopting gives a dog the hope and love it wouldn’t otherwise receive, saving the lovable companion from a grim future. The bonds formed with rescued dogs are deep and lasting. Not only do you give the dog a brand new life of joy and adventure — you also gain a best friend for life in the process. 

Matthew Nalls is a Senior Opinion Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at opinion@cavalierdaily.com

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