Every year at this time thousands of people flock to their local pet stores to find a cute puppy as a Christmas gift.
After all, what would make a loved one squeal for joy more on Christmas morning than a puppy or kitty under the tree?
While you’re spending probably hundreds of dollars on such a gift, across town in your community dog pound or shelter are countless lonely dogs, some of them probably last year’s Christmas gifts who were given up after they outgrew their cuteness, biding their time in a concrete kennel and just longing for a little play time and human interaction.
Here, according to the Connecticut Humane Society’s Alicia Wright, are some of the benefits of adopting a dog from your local pound:
- First and foremost “You’re saving the life of an innocent animal.” Actually, Wright points out, you’re saving two lives because when you adopt a pet from the pound, shelter or rescue group, you’re freeing up space in that facility for another abandoned dog to be taken in. “The statistics really say it all,” Wright adds. “In the U.S. alone 5 to 7 million animals become homeless every year and only half live to find a new home. Those that do face the prospect of euthanasia if the shelter becomes pressed for space. “When you adopt, you’re making a direct impact on reducing pet overpopulation.”
- There’s a significant financial benefit to adopting from a pound or shelter. Some pedigreed pooches bought from a store or breeder can cost in excess of $1,000 and then you have to pay for their vaccinations, neutering and other medical care. Connecticut pounds often charge about $50 for their animals but then hand out $50 neutering vouchers if the animal has not already been fixed. Many shelters and rescue groups, including the Humane Society, also see to a dog’s medical care when they are taken in. The Connecticut Humane Society has various fees for adoption, depending on the animal’s age. For a list of them and to see the animals available for adoption, click here.
- Adopted dogs usually aren’t as much work as a new puppy. Many have come from homes where they were trained before they were given up. Many shelters, Wright said, also now train animals in basic commands, such as sit, stay, come and heel. Pound puppies often are also already house broken.
- Sometimes, you can get a purebred dog for a fraction of the cost. Some 25 percent of dogs given up to shelters or the pound are purebreds, Wright said. “So you can perhaps get that boxer or golden retriever without having to go to the breeder.” The dog won’t have official “papers,” she added, but those pedigrees are important only if you intend to breed the animal or show them.
“There’s lots of wonderful real benefits to adopting an animal through a shelter or a rescue group,” Wright said. But making that gift a surprise may not be the best way to go about it. Choosing a new family pet should be a decision the family makes together, she said.
And the Humane Society, she added, particularly discourages buying puppies at pet stores.
“Ninety-nine percent of dogs at pet stores come from puppy mills, which are essentially a breeding factory,” she said. Dogs used for breeding often are kept in cages, aren’t taken out to play or exercise and don’t get appropriate medical care, she said.
“It’s really a very inhumane situation.”
Some large pet supply stores, such as Pet Smart and Petco, she added, don’t sell puppies but act as liasions of sorts for rescue groups, keeping rescue animals at their stores for adoption and holding adoption events for local rescue groups.