A look at the lifesaving impact of pet adoption from the perspective of a longtime animal rescuer
When someone asks me why they should choose to adopt a pet over going to a breeder or pet store that sells commercially bred animals, my answer is simple: Adoption saves lives.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) tells us that almost 1 in 4 pets who enter U.S. animal shelters nationwide are killed every year – that’s more than 1.5 million animals, or 670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats. The numbers are staggering, but all hope is not lost.
With an ever-increasing number of no-kill rescues joining the battle against the pet overpopulation problem alongside shelters across the country, euthanasia rates are slowly, but surely, going
down, and public awareness has gone up. Which brings me back to my original point: Adoption saves lives. But how?
One of my favorite things to tell people is, when you adopt an animal from a shelter or rescue, you’re actually saving two lives: the life of your new best friend, and the life of the animal that will take its place. Shelters are constantly euthanizing animals to make space for new ones coming in, and rescues simply can’t bring in new animals unless they have an empty kennel or foster home.
Something else to consider is where those cute pet store puppies came from, which is usually an inhumane puppy mill with horrendous living conditions for both the dogs they breed and their babies. These animals are treated like nothing more than a product that must be constantly bred and sold, bred and sold. The combination of unsanitary living conditions, inadequate care, and poor breeding practices often results in birth defects and other health issues that lead to the puppy being discarded like trash or hefty veterinary expenses by pet owners later in life. More and more cities have banned the sale of animals from puppy mills in pet stores, and for good reason. Would you want to support such a cruel business by buying a commercially bred pet from a pet store? I wouldn’t either.
What’s known as a “backyard breeder” operates in much the same way as a puppy mill. They usually give little to no thought to the wellbeing of their animals, forcing mothers to spend their lives in filthy cages while they’re bred over and over again. Both breeding dogs and puppies typically have inadequate care and unsanitary living conditions, and again, breeding practices are poor, all of which often results in birth defects and health problems. These types of breeders may use social media groups and websites like Craigslist to sell their animals for a profit, and if prospective buyers pay close attention, there are usually a number of red flags that they aren’t a reputable breeder. Again, would you want to support someone who treats their animals this way?
As an animal lover, I wouldn’t object to someone buying their pet from a reputable breeder who treats their animals well and provides all the necessary veterinary care – if it weren’t for the pet overpopulation problem, that is. With so many healthy, adoptable animals dying in shelters every day, placing extra value on a dog for being pure bred is hard for me to understand. In my mind, every home with a pure-bred dog is a home that could have saved a life by choosing to adopt instead.
Of course, there are a number of other perks when it comes to adopting from a shelter or reputable rescue, like having the pet already spayed or neutered, up to date
on their vaccines, and microchipped. Many rescues will also have their cats tested for the incurable Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), and can help find the best fit for your personality and lifestyle, giving you the best chance at a successful adoption. Adoption fees also go right back into helping save even more animals – no one from a reputable animal rescue does what they do to make money.
The bottom line is, most shelter and rescue pets are not broken. They aren’t any less of a companion than a pure bred, and just might even show you an even greater sense of love and appreciation because, on some level, they seem to know you saved their life. I’ve seen the faces of dogs and cats – and even kittens and puppies – on death row at overcrowded shelters, just waiting for someone to give them the chance that will save their lives. And that chance is called adoption.
About Melissa Lampert-Abramovitch
Melissa Lampert-Abramovitch is the co-founder, president, and CEO of Madeline’s Angels Pet Sanctuary (MAPS) in Santa Clarita, and has volunteered and worked in the world of animal rescue for over 10 years. She got her start volunteering at weekly adoption days for a no-kill cat rescue inside a local PetSmart, and was hooked. Since then she’s worked as a kennel attendant at New Leash on Life Animal Rescue in Santa Clarita and a pet caregiver at Best Friends Animal Society’s NKLA (No-Kill Los Angeles) Pet Adoption Center in West L.A., along with several animal hospitals. Lampert-Abramovitch is the creator and coordinator of the “KHTS Adopt a Pet” video feature series on hometownstation.com, which has helped 66 featured pets from local rescues and shelters get adopted to date. She fulfilled her lifelong dream of co-founding her own animal rescue alongside her mother, Randi Lampert, and sister, Jennifer Lampert, in 2016. Since the rescue’s creation, MAPS has taken in 15 dogs and cats in need, and adopted out 11 of these animals into their forever homes so far.
To find out more about Madeline’s Angels Pet Sanctuary or sign up to contribute to the bake sale fundraisers, email [email protected] or go to mapsanimalrescue.wordpress.com. Madeline’s Angels Pet Sanctuary (M.A.P.S.)