By Megan Judy
Every day, families all across the world spend hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of dollars on designer breed animals. We are all looking for that perfect furry companion who will grow up with us and spend its entire life by our side. But is it not possible to share the same strong bonds and friendships with an animal that came from a shelter or previous owner?
According to the ASPCA’S website, “Approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, approximately 3.9 million are dogs and 3.4 million are cats.” About 2.7 million pet adoptions take place each year. Although at first this statistic makes it seem as though there is a fairly large percentage of pet adoptions, the ASPCA also euthanizes about 2.7 million animals each year. Clearly, if half of the animals are being euthanized, there are not nearly enough adoptions taking place.
Some people believe that animals that come from shelters are damaged — packed with emotional and behavioral issues. Is this the real problem, or is it the lack of faith and effort these people are willing to give shelter animals? It is true that some animals that end up in shelters come from abusive or traumatizing past situations.
However, it is almost always possible to reverse any aggression or reduce emotional problems present as long as you are willing to devote yourself to helping the animal. When my aunt decided to adopt Monkey, a young pitbull from LaMancha Animal Shelter in 2012, she knew it might take a little bit of work. Monkey had been LaMancha’s longest resident at the time, sheltered for almost 2.5 years. She was aggressive towards other dogs, and after being adopted she got into a fight with the family’s other dog Kai, an elderly Australian Shepard. My aunt was bitten while trying to break up the fight.
Although this might be the stage where most people give up on an animal and pass them over to yet another shelter, my aunt still had faith in Monkey. After she had healed, she devoted months to training Monkey and acclimating her to being around not only Kai, but other dogs and her two small children. Now, not only does Monkey get along and play with other dogs, she also sleeps cozily with my aunt’s 7-year-old son in bed every night. My aunt has also since become a certified dog trainer and opened her own business, committing herself to giving other dogs the second chance Monkey had.
While adoption is slowly gaining popularity in the United States, more than half of people still seem to be buying their pets from breeders or pet stores. After taking a survey that involved 30 people, I found that only eight owned adopted animals while 22 people had purchased their pets.
When you purchase an animal from a pet store, you are often supporting mass kennel breeding operations and even puppy mills; adoption stops these places from profiting. Spaying and neutering your animals is also extremely important to help control our stray animal population.
The next time you or your family starts looking to taking in a furry companion, help an animal by adopting. By being open-minded, willing to work a little bit and not give up, you can save a life. Don’t make the popular choice — make the right one.