Meet my dog, Maggie.
She sleeps in weird positions, enjoys going hiking, and is adored by literally everyone who meets her.
(I am not kidding. Even my non-dog-liking friends like her. “Happy” is the adjective most often used to describe her.)
We adopted her in April while we were both working from home. We knew we wanted a dog at some point, but the logistics always seemed difficult. Dogs are so much more work than cats. But the time seemed right, and we knew it would be easier to get a dog settled into our home while we were both there. So we visited our local shelter and adopted Maggie.
The only criteria we had for a dog, really, was that it had to be good with cats. Our local shelter does a pretty good job of getting to know their animals, so we spent a couple of weeks looking through the pet profiles on the shelter website while we asked ourselves if we were really about to adopt a dog. Then we made an appointment on a Saturday morning, met Maggie, and decided to take her home.
My family has always just kind of lucked into our animals. My first family pet growing up was a fluffy black kitten that appeared in our garage one morning after church. After that, we had three more cats that were given to us after friends’ cats got pregnant. Then my dad and siblings found a sorry-looking puppy in the woods while hiking one day and took her home in their backpack. We’ve had some others pets thrown in there – gerbils, rabbits, chickens – but our cats and dog were all animals that basically chose us.
With that background in mind, it’s easy to see why I’m an advocate for adopting pets from shelters rather than buying them from a breeder. I’m not going to go all PETA on you if you just have to have that pure-bred puppy; I have several family members with purebred pets, after all. (I will give you some side-eye probably. But that’s it.) But I am FIRMLY in the adopt-don’t-shop camp.
One of the main reasons is because personally I just can’t fathom spending thousands of dollars on a purebred pet when there are plenty of shelter pets available. I do understand that sometimes people want specific traits because they’re going to use their dog for work, or that they might need a hypoallergenic pet. But for the person who’s just looking for a cute companion, why spend more than you have to when you could adopt a shelter pet for under $100?
One counterargument I’ve heard to that is, “When you go with a breeder, you can get a puppy that won’t have to unlearn bad behaviors.” And that’s true – puppies are technically blank slates. But aren’t you going to have to train that puppy anyway? It takes work to live with a pet, no matter its age, breed, or species. Just because you get a pet as a baby doesn’t mean it will be well-behaved, and just because you adopt an older pet doesn’t mean it can’t learn new things.
It also sometimes pains me when people choose breeders over shelter pets, because shelters take in more than 6.5 million animals each year. There are so many pets out there already that need love, so why do we keep creating new ones? It’s a really fantastic feeling to be able to give an unwanted pet a home. When we were getting ready to adopt our cats, my husband and I each picked out the cat we wanted. My husband picked out Tuesday, the sweetest, most annoying cat you will ever meet. I picked out Rita, who had been at the shelter the longest out of all the cats there, because I am a bleeding-heart softie for shelter cats. Both of them have turned out to be hilarious, amazing little animals, no fancy pedigree required.
Because I do know so many, many people who already have purebred pets, I try to stay off my high horse on this issue. But if you ever ask me whether you should get a pet, my answer will be yes – at your local shelter.
Do you have pets? What’s your opinion on adoption versus breeders?
NaNoPoblano 2020: 9/29