There are lots of ways that people choose a new family dog. Some may search the newspaper for advertisements from breeders who are selling new puppies; others find breeders via listings on the Internet, while still more may simply purchase a puppy from a local pet store. Perhaps the best method, however, in terms of being helpful to society in general is to adopt a dog from a local animal shelter.
Adopting a dog brings a new friend into your life. It also helps to reduce the number of unwanted and homeless dogs in your area. Unless the shelter is a “no kill” facility (and these are sadly few and far between), it will also save a dog’s life. Animal lovers everywhere champion the adoption of dogs from shelters as opposed to any other method of bringing home a new pet for this reason alone, but there are other reasons to choose the adoption option.
Adopted pets have had their shots. Shelters often have information about a dog’s temperament. Adopting a pet frees space in the shelter for more dogs. When you adopt a dog you can be sure that the staff at the shelter has had the dog examined by a vet for diseases and parasites. This is not always true of dogs acquired by other means such as kids giving away “free puppies” from a box in front of the local grocery store.
The dogs at a shelter are not just strays and often are turned in to the shelter by former owners for various reasons. When this happens, the shelter collects as much information about the dog as possible, including whether it’s good with children, how much it barks, how playful or obedient it is, whether it’s housebroken, and other important details. While it’s true that this information is only as good as the honesty of the former owner, most of the time it is fairly accurate.
Animal shelters provide a valuable service to the community that they serve by keeping the streets as free of stray animals as possible. Because many of them do this with little or no public funding or governmental support, they are very limited in the number of dogs they can have in the shelter at any given time. The only way that they can bring in more stray animals is if they remove the ones they currently have. This is done through adoption or euthanasia. Obviously they would prefer to have the dogs adopted rather than killed. Adopting a dog could very well save its life and allows the shelter to bring in another dog in its place. And, unfortunately, there seems to be a never-ending supply of unwanted and neglected animals!