Being a veterinarian, I definitely get to see both sides of the new puppy (or kitten) story. Whether you adopt your puppy or kitten (or adult pet) from a shelter/rescue, or you purchase from a breeder is a very individual decision and neither are wrong! However, seeing as I also run a dog rescue, I certainly have a soft spot for rescued animals.
I want to preface this by saying I will never judge a client for buying their pet from a breeder – there are certain breeds or traits that are going to be hard to find in a rescue situation. I will love and care for every patient that walks through my door with equal weight and importance! Every patient is important, for sure…I just really LOVE those rescued babies! And that being said, I want to tell you why I think rescuing is so important.
Way back when I was in college and didn’t have a dog of my very own, and Harley burst into my life – I had NO IDEA how much I needed him as much as he needed me. There is something so heartwarming and satisfying to take a scared little puppy and show them love, attention, and patience, and to watch them just flourish into the dog they were meant to be. I see this over and over in the rescue – not only in my foster dogs, but in all the foster dogs in the rescue. It is an amazing transformation, and one that is worth it every. Single. Time. The reward when you open your heart to a dog or cat in need is one that you can’t put a figure on, but dang, is it worth it.
In addition to it being rewarding, it is desperately needed. Hundreds, probably even thousands, of dogs and cats are surrendered to the shelter every day across the country. People are moving, their life situation has changed, they have a baby, their pet has a medical issue they can’t afford to address – the list goes on. There is this perception that rescued dogs and cats have ‘baggage’, and I am here to say that is not true. Yes, some rescued pets have issues – some have behavior concerns, but many of them are wonderful animals who had an owner that couldn’t keep them, and they just ended up in a bad situation. The need in this country is staggering – so many dogs and cats are put to sleep every day because the shelters are overwhelmed. Knowing these statistics, it’s hard for me to not want to help. Every animal adopted from a shelter saves two lives – the life of the pet you are taking into your home, and the one of the pet who now gets a chance because there is another spot in the shelter for them. Wonderful pets are put to sleep every day – they need us to do better.
Can we talk about cost here too??? I am often floored by the cost that some breeders are selling their puppies for - $1500, $2000, and even more! That’s bananas!! I know there is the point to be made that you get what you pay for, and it’s important to do your research when dealing with purebred pups, but if you are concerned about costs, the average adopted puppy or kitten is going to cost a fraction of that! In our dog rescue, for example, our adoption fee is $350, but it includes all their initial vaccines, being started on heartworm and flea/tick preventatives, being spayed/neutered, fecal screenings, and a microchip with lifetime registration! For those pups coming in from a breeder where you have already spent $1500, you are easily looking at another $600-1000 in initial costs for the same vaccines, preventatives, and spay/neuter!
Lastly, there are medical benefits to all those adorable mutts from the shelter too! With the gene pool in many purebred lines getting smaller by the generation, we are seeing more and more long-term health concerns in certain breeds, and a lot of these mutty mixed breeds are healthy creatures and live very long lives! Not to mention how adorable it is to see these fun mixes, and to try to guess what they are! I love me some mixed breed pups!
I know there are those of you that are hardcore for your certain breeds, and that is ok! The purebred babies need love too, and I will melt for an adorable golden or boxer puppy too – but with some time, patience and research, you can find some of those purebred babies in rescue too – I promise! Or if you are open to a slightly ‘off-brand’ golden or boxer, there are plenty of mixed puppies who need love too! 😊