1. You’ll save a life

Sad­ly, between 4 and 5 mil­lion dogs and cats are euth­a­nized each year in North Amer­i­ca sim­ply because too many peo­ple give up their pets and too few peo­ple adopt from shel­ters. Because there is lim­it­ed space at shel­ters, staff mem­bers some­times need to make very hard deci­sions based on space and funds to euth­a­nize healthy adopt­able ani­mals who haven’t been adopted.

The num­ber of euth­a­nized ani­mals could be reduced dra­mat­i­cal­ly if more peo­ple adopt­ed pets instead of buy­ing them. By adopt­ing from a pri­vate humane soci­ety or ani­mal shel­ter, breed res­cue group, or the local ani­mal con­trol agency, you’ll help save the lives of two animals—the pet you adopt and a home­less ani­mal some­where who can be res­cued because of space you helped free up.

2. You’ll get a healthy pet

Ani­mal shel­ters are brim­ming with hap­py, healthy ani­mals just wait­ing for some­one to take them home. Most shel­ters exam­ine and give vac­ci­na­tions to ani­mals when they arrive, and many spay or neuter them before being adopt­ed. In addi­tion to med­ical care, more and more shel­ters also screen ani­mals for spe­cif­ic tem­pera­ments and behav­iors to make sure each fam­i­ly finds the right pet for its lifestyle.

It is a com­mon mis­con­cep­tion that ani­mals end up in shel­ters because they’ve been abused or done some­thing “wrong”. In fact, most ani­mals are giv­en to shel­ters because of “peo­ple rea­sons,” not because of any­thing they’ve done wrong. Things like a divorce, a move, lack of time or finan­cial con­straints are among the most com­mon rea­sons why pets lose their homes.

3. You’ll save money

Adopt­ing a pet from an ani­mal shel­ter is much less expen­sive than buy­ing a pet at a pet store or through oth­er sources. In addi­tion, ani­mals from many shel­ters are already spayed or neutered and vac­ci­nat­ed, which makes the shel­ter’s fee a real bargain.

4. You’ll feel better

Pets have a way of putting a smile on your face and a spring in your step. Not only do ani­mals give you uncon­di­tion­al love, but they have been shown to be psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly, emo­tion­al­ly, and phys­i­cal­ly ben­e­fi­cial. Car­ing for a com­pan­ion ani­mal can pro­vide a sense of pur­pose and ful­fill­ment and lessen feel­ings of lone­li­ness and iso­la­tion in all age groups.

Pets can help your phys­i­cal health as well—just spend­ing time with an ani­mal can help low­er a per­son­’s blood pres­sure and cho­les­terol lev­els, and dog walk­ing, pet groom­ing, and even pet­ting pro­vide increased phys­i­cal activ­i­ty that can help strength­en the heart, improve blood cir­cu­la­tion, and slow the loss of bone tis­sue. Put sim­ply, pets aren’t just good friends, they’re also good med­i­cine and can improve a per­son­’s well-being in many ways.

5. You won’t be sup­port­ing pup­py mills and pet stores

Pup­py mills are “fac­to­ry style” dog-breed­ing facil­i­ties that put prof­it above the wel­fare of dogs. Most dogs raised in pup­py mills are housed in shock­ing­ly poor con­di­tions with improp­er med­ical care, and the par­ents of the pup­pies are kept in cages to be bred over and over for years, with­out human com­pan­ion­ship and with lit­tle hope of ever join­ing a fam­i­ly. And after they’re no longer prof­itable, breed­ing dogs are sim­ply discarded—either killed, aban­doned or sold at auction.
Pup­py mill pup­pies are sold to unsus­pect­ing con­sumers in pet stores, over the Inter­net and through news­pa­per clas­si­fied adver­tise­ments to who­ev­er is will­ing to pay for them.

Mar­ket­ed as com­ing from great breed­ers, well-rehearsed sales tac­tics keep mon­ey flow­ing to the pup­py mill by ensur­ing that buy­ers nev­er get to see where the pups actu­al­ly come from (a vital step in pup­py buy­ing). Many of the pup­pies have seri­ous behav­ioral and health prob­lems that might not be appar­ent for months, includ­ing med­ical prob­lems that can cost thou­sands of dol­lars to treat, if they are treat­able at all. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, a lot of peo­ple are not even aware that pup­py mills exist, so when they buy a pet from a pet store, online or oth­er retail out­let, they are unwit­ting­ly sup­port­ing this cru­el industry.

By adopt­ing instead of buy­ing a pet, you can be cer­tain you aren’t sup­port­ing cru­el pup­py mills with your mon­ey. Pup­py mills will con­tin­ue to oper­ate until peo­ple stop pur­chas­ing their dogs. Instead of buy­ing a dog, vis­it your local shel­ter where you will like­ly to find dozens of healthy, well-social­ized pup­pies and adult dogs—including purebreds—just wait­ing for that spe­cial home—yours.