Growing up on a farm in rural Oregon, I had the good fortune of having a lot of animals around me. Horses, cows, dogs, cats, chickens… you get the idea. I found out later that some of these animals weren’t really ‘pets’, but I’ve already written a blog about that.
In today’s world with too many pets already, it’s far more ethical to adopt an animal instead of buying one from a store or breeder. I know a lot of people with dogs and cats that they’ve adopted from local shelters, and I haven’t heard a single horror story about the experience. Sometimes animals get bad reputations, and that stops people from realizing a pet often just needs love. A friend of ours in Los Angeles adopted a wonderful pit bull named Molly. I know pit bulls have a bad rap, but I’ve never met a pit bull I didn’t like. Molly is the most lovable dog I’ve ever met. She’s just amazing! I know her human parents are thankful every day to have her as a part of the family, and whenever they go on vacation, if its feasible, my husband and I always offer to babysit her. She’s just a treat to have around.
Most recently, before moving to New York, my husband and I adopted a cat from a shelter in Oregon. His name is Sebastian and he was abandoned when he was born. Not sure if his mother died or what, but we do know his young kitten weeks were spent on the streets. Not a very happy childhood. He was picked up and spent the first 11 months of his life in a shelter. I’m sure that wasn’t very pleasant either; people coming in, picking him up, checking him out, then putting him back. When I saw him at the shelter, it was love at first sight. He had one slightly funky eye (it had been scratched when he was tiny and never recovered) but other than that, he was just a chill cat. He seemed happy to just be snuggled. We’ve had him a few years now, and I have to say, he’s the best cat we EVER could’ve adopted!
While a pet store might seem a nice play to look at the dogs and cats with your kids, it’s important to remember that those animals probably (most likely) came from pet “mills”, factories created to simply breed and sell animals. Much like cattle factories, the animals are treated like products not live creatures. Often they are bred in close genetic circles, which creates unhealthy and often sick animals, and usually they house them in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions without adequate veterinary care, socialization, or even food and water. When you’re at the pet store, remember that buying from them is only supporting such horrible conditions.
So I guess the point here is, if you’re in the market for an addition to the family, please don’t go to the pet store, or the breeder. Go to your local shelter. Here is a list of reasons why:
- Because you’ll save a life
- Because you’ll get a great animal
- Because it’ll cost you less
- Because of the bragging rights (my dog is the coolest!)
- Because its one way to fight puppy mills
- Because your home will thank you
- Because all pets are good for your health, but adoptees are even better!
On a side note: if you ever come across an animal in need, don’t hesitate to step up and help. If you’re not sure how to carefully handle it, theres is always an expert just a phone call away!
While in Oregon, I found 3 little baby squirrels that had been abandoned by their mother. Hint: I know NOTHING about squirrels. But I asked around and found someone who could help introduce them back into the wild, once they were weaned. (We called her the Squirrel Whisperer!) How am I suppose to wean 3 baby squirrels? Let me just say, I didn’t have kids for a reason. Having to get up every 4 hours to feed them was not what I was thinking when I rescued them from my front yard. But sure enough, after a few weeks, some kitten formula and a couple eye droppers later, they were healthy enough to be reintroduced into the wild. I like to think that Harpo, Groucho and Zeppo are playing around with their cousins and enjoying life, as all animals should. That was my selfless contribution to the animal kingdom, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
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