Adopting animals benefits both animals and owners


Graphic by Jocelyn Wang

There are 70 million stray animals living in the United States right now—and according to the U.S. Humane Society, a mere six to eight million of them are brought into a shelter every year. These animals are most often put up for adoption as long as they are tame, and in the past few years, adoption has quickly become an increasingly popular method of purchasing a pet. Some people still argue that buying animals from a breeder is better, though—they want a purebred animal, or believe that adopting would be too much of a risk in terms of the animals’ health and expenses. However, with no shortage of pets in need of homes and the assistance of shelters throughout the adoption process, adoption is both a practical and moral option for people searching for a four-legged friend.   

Some people say that they want a purebred animal because of predictable behavior and temperament, as well as their popularity in media. Purebred animals are not superior to mixed breeds, though. In many cases, breeding techniques can cause greater chances of genetic mutation and disability in dogs and other animals. If people would like a purebred animal, though, Community Outreach Manager of the Palo Alto Humane Society Leonor Delgado says that many rescue groups have animals that are as close to purebred as possible. Another option, according to Social Studies teacher Patricia Holmes, is to visit a website that allows owners to filter pets that are up for adoption by breed. “There are plenty of purebreds that need adoption as well,” she said. “If you go on PetFinder you can put in the specific breed. Things happen with owners that make really good pets available, so I advocate looking at all options before buying from a breeder”

In addition to wanting purebred animals, many pet owners claim that adopting is too risky in terms of health and medical expenses. However, adopting is actually much more cost efficient. According to the Best Friends Animal Society, a sanctuary dedicated to helping the medical needs of homeless animals, buying a pet from a breeder can cost the owner $500 to $1000, whereas adoption is only $50 to $200. Also, when buying from a breeder, there is no guarantee that they have spayed and neutered the animal, causing higher medical costs. When owners adopt, shelters are much more conscious of the effects of overpopulation due to reproduction on the streets, and make an effort to spay and neuter animals before they are adopted. This cuts down on future costs for animals in the long run, and makes adoption the less costly option.

According to Delgado, the issue that remains to be solved with regards to pet adoption is finding a sustainable home for animals where their owners will be able to keep and care for the animal. “People are not responsible and they abandon animals, especially cats, because they’re priced out of their home and they have no place to put their animal,” she said. “Responsible people take their animals back to the shelter and if the shelter is good they’ll try to find it another home. Other people just leave their animals on the street,” she said.

When people choose not to adopt from shelters and the animals are not adopted, they are often put down. “I was taught and told, as I try to teach students, that millions of really great pets get euthanized every year because nobody adopts them,” Holmes said. “And it’s heartbreaking.” According to the Humane Society of the United States, 2.4 million adoptable cats and dogs are euthanized every year due to the overpopulation of stray pets.

Adopting an animal comes with a multitude of options, is cost-effective, and is the ethical choice. It will help decrease the number of homeless animals, and will be accompanied with the feeling that you just stopped another euthanization. “I would definitely recommend going to a shelter to adopt because in many cases, you would be saving a life,” Delgado said.

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