Why adopt from a shelter or rescue?
(Last updated November 2nd, 2012)
Many people wonder why they should adopt an animal from a shelter or rescue, when there are animals at pet stores that may be cheaper or more convenient. Below I have listed several reasons why getting an animal from a shelter or rescue is good and the benefits.
1. Warm fuzzy reasons. Animals from shelters are not necessarily cuter or cuddlier than a pet store animal. However, animals from rescues are animals that have gone through a hard time, and now they need our help. Giving your help to an animal and giving them love has amazing benefits for you. Animals love unconditionally (yes even cats!). It’s a wonderful feeling to come home every day knowing that you have not only saved your animal’s life but to feel their love for you is great too! Animals bring so much joy and companionship to life, rescuing your new best friend is the cherry on top.
2. Cost effective. While a pet store animal may be cheaper in upfront costs, you actually get a good deal when you adopt an animal from a shelter. Organizations provide veterinary checkups, de-worming, initial vaccines and spaying/neutering to the animals in their care. Sometimes even a microchip, pet insurance and food is provided! The initial adoption cost may be higher, but you are getting an animal that has gone through a lot of veterinary care and TLC... What a bargain :)
3. Resources. When you adopt from a shelter you may also gain valuable information and support. You can ask questions, get factsheets and talk with knowledgeable volunteers that know your animal’s personality and health really well. They have contacts and can direct you to other resources like training classes and the best pet stores in your area. Animal organizations want you to have an amazing relationship with your pet!
4. Peace of Mind. Organizations are concerned with the health and well being of animals in your community as well as responsible pet ownership. Your adoption cost not only helps them offset the veterinary costs for that animal but helps their programming, education and maintenance of all the other animals in the shelter/rescue. You are adopting an animal that really needs a home and you are supporting an organization that does amazing work in your community, what could be better!?
I would also like to point out here that I do not have anything against animals from pet stores. They will make wonderful pets as well and I have in fact gotten animals from pet stores in the past. Unfortunately pet stores are not necessarily invested in the health and well being of their animals or animals in their community. Animals may have health problems or be from a backyard breeder. They are not spayed or neutered and have often not been checked by a veterinarian. Many are not socialized and may be shy or fearful of being held. Many pet stores are not knowledgeable about the animals in their care and may provide inaccurate care instructions or may not even sex animals properly. With so many animals needing homes from rescues/shelters already we do not need to continue breeding animals. Please be cautious when getting an animal from a pet store and be sure to check out the ‘things to consider’ section below. try and find out as much about the animal and pet store as possible before hand.
Things to Consider
Are you ready for a new pet? There are a lot of different things you should consider before adopting your new friend! Try and answer the following questions and note the points below. Responsible pet ownership means knowing exactly what having a pet entails and being willing to do everything in your power for your new pet for their entire lifetime.
Spay/neuter your pet. Pet overpopulation is a huge problem in Ontario. Millions of animals are euthanized in shelters every year because there isn’t enough space or homes for all of them and because people continue to buy from pet stores.. While it’s a sad fact, there is something that people can do about it. Spaying and neutering pets reduces the number of unwanted pets! Many animals that come from shelters are already spayed/neutered, but make sure that you are willing to pay for this procedure if they are not. Spaying and neutering can also reduce the risk of reproductive cancers in pets. Small animals can (and some would argue should) also have this procedure.
Veterinarian. Do you have a veterinarian? Are you willing to pay medical expenses for your new pet, for the rest of its life? Before you adopt you should make sure you have a veterinarian that looks after your type of pet (some vets do not look at small animals, reptiles or birds). Find a vet that you trust, that’s close by and also ensure you know where you can take your pet after hours in an emergency. Veterinary costs can be expensive! Make sure you know how much food, annual check ups and unexpected emergencies could cost you. Small pets do require veterinary care as well, so make sure you take this into consideration.
Pet Insurance. It’s not for everyone but it’s something to consider. Currently in Canada only dogs and cats can be insured. Under the ‘useful links’ section you can find many different pet insurance plans.
The right pet for your family. Are you short on space or time? Do you have kids, other pets or travel a lot? Before choosing a pet, you need to determine how much time that pet will require, how much space they need and whether they will get along with your kids/pets. If you are renting, make sure your landlord will accept pets. Some breeds or even species may not work with your particular family (+ by-laws), or it might just mean searching for the right individual animal. Consider where you are putting your new pet (if it’s a small animal, ensure the cage will not be in direct sunlight or in a draft etc.). If your children will be taking care of the pet, understand that they might lose interest. You are responsible for taking care of the pet if this happens. You are also responsible if your child goes off to college. If you travel, make sure you have a friend or pet sitter who will be able and knowledgeable enough to take care of your pet.
The right care for your pet. Do your research! Know what type of food, housing, enrichment and care your new pet will need. Every species is different and may require a lot more than you’re expecting. Try and read books and contact organizations that can help you find the information you need. How long will your new pet live? Make sure that you will be able to provide care for their entire lifetime.
List of questions to ask yourself:
1. Are you willing to spay/neuter your new pet?
2. Are you willing to prepare your house for your new pet (covering electrical cords, stair accesses etc.)?
3. Are/could you be moving soon?
4. Will you have enough time for your new pet?
5. Who will look after your pet when you travel, will you be able to bring your pet with you?
6. Would you be willing to go to training classes?
7. What happens if your new pet is badly behaved?
8. Do you know how to deal with bad behaviour; will you be willing to buy products to divert scratching in cats or chewing in small animals?
9. Do you know your community's by-laws for pets (how many pets per household, licensing etc.)?
10. Do you know how long your new pet will live?
11. Can you provide care for its entire life?
12. What food do they eat, how much do they need each day and how much will it cost per week?
13. How much space do they need?
14. What type of housing do they require?
15. What type of exercise and attention do they require?
16. Do you know what products to get at the pet store? Just because it has a picture of your pet on the package or is sold in a pet store doesn't mean it's safe or healthy.
17. Can you take care of the pet if your child loses interest?
18. Are you using this pet as a learning tool or to get your child to be responsible? You are ultimately responsible no matter your child's behaviour and should take that into consideration.
19. Would pet insurance be something that would help out with your pet’s expenses?
20. Will you be able to pay veterinary expenses?
21. Does your veterinarian have convenient payment plans?
22. Does your veterinarian take that species? Do you need to find a specialist?
23. Where would you take your pet in an emergency?
24. If you will be welcoming a new baby or pet, what will happen to this pet?
25. Where will your new pet spend most of its time?
26. Who will be looking after the pet most of the time?
27. Who will make decisions and be responsible for the costs of your new pet?
28. If you are sharing ownership, what will happen to your pet in case of a disagreement or split?
29. What happens if natural disaster should strike (find out if shelters will take in pets or where you could take your pet in such an emergency)?
30. If you are unable to keep your pet, will you take it back to the shelter/rescue you adopted it from?
31. What if you or a loved one is allergic?
32. What if your new pet doesn't getting along with your existing pets or vice versa?
33. Are you willing to make plans for your pet in the event that you should die before them? Find out how to include your pet in your will or if friend/family would be willing to take them in.