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Thinking about bringing home a new furry friend? You may be tempted to head straight to a breeder or a pet store, especially if that’s how you got your family pet when you were growing up. However, there are several reasons why you should adopt a pet instead.

If you think that adopting a pet means limiting your choices, think again. With apps like Petfinder and breed-specific rescue groups, you can find the exact type of animal you want. Rescuing an animal from a shelter is likely to change your life. Read on for some of the reasons why you should adopt, not shop.

You’ll Save A Life

Approximately 6.5 million pets are admitted to shelters in the United States every year. In the U.S. alone, about 1.5 million cats and dogs are euthanized annually.1 These are adoptable pets that never get the chance to find a home. The problem of pet overpopulation is real, and space in shelters is limited.

Shelter staff members are regularly faced with the harrowing decision of which animals will live and which will have to be euthanized. Pet adoption has many advantages. But perhaps the biggest is this: it literally saves the life of an innocent animal.

Adopting A Pet May Save You Money

Buying a pet from a breeder or pet store can cost you $500 to $3000 or more.2 This rarely includes vaccinations, medications, or the veterinary care your new pet will need.

Cute gray cat getting vaccineAdopting a pet from an animal shelter typically ends up being less expensive. Depending on the type of organization, an adoption fee can range from $50 to $500. Some pet shelters and rescue groups will waive that fee for older dogs and cats.


An adoption fee typically covers these expenses:

  • Initial vaccinations and a wellness exam by a veterinarian – $150-$200
  • Flea and tick treatment or medication – $50-$200
  • Microchipping and registration – $50
  • Heartworm testing and medication – $15-$700
  • Spay or neuter procedure – $150-$3003

In addition to these initial money-saving perks, some vets, pet stores, and trainers offer discounts for shelter pets.

Shelters Have A Wider Range Of Pets

When you imagine your ideal pet, do you have something in mind other than a purebred puppy or kitten? Visit your local shelter. Old, young, large, small, mixed breed, and yes, even purebred animals can be found at shelters. There are a lot of animals to choose from.

cute kittensIf you have your heart set on a specific breed, you can still adopt from a shelter. Approximately 25% of pets in shelters are purebred animals. In addition, there are several breed-specific rescue organizations that can help you find what you are looking for.4

It’s One Way To Fight Against Puppy Mills

Puppy mills are “factory style” operations for breeding dogs. Pets are often kept in small, dirty cages and denied access to proper medical care. Many puppies who come out of these operations walk away with behavioral and health problems that can cost thousands of dollars to treat.5

Unfortunately, many people aren’t even aware that puppy mills exist. When you buy an animal online or in a pet store, you may be unwittingly supporting them. When you go to a local shelter to adopt a dog or cat, you can be certain you are not supporting these unscrupulous operations.

Adult Pets May Already Be House-Trained

Lab holding leash asking for a walkBringing home a new puppy is full of delightful events, but potty training is not one of them. If you want to skip this messy and frustrating process altogether, you could always adopt an adult dog from a shelter.

Many adult dogs were housetrained in their previous homes. While it may take a few weeks for them to get used to their new home, the re-training process should happen quickly.6 Compare that to months of waking up at 3 AM and accidentally stepping in your puppy’s mess.

Many shelters also have training programs where they teach animals basic obedience. This can help you save time and money on training your dog or cat.

You Might Find A Bonded Pair Of Animals

Do you dream of living with two cats or dogs that get along like happy siblings? It may be more complicated than you imagine. Introducing two pets, especially two dogs or a dog and a cat, can be a difficult process.7 There’s no guarantee the pets will get along.

If you choose to visit an animal shelter, however, you may see “bonded pairs” available. These are animals that already have a positive and healthy relationship with each other and would prefer not to be separated. These animals can play together and keep each other company while you’re out of the house.8

Adoption Helps More Than Just One Animal

When you adopt a dog, cat, bird, or any other animal from a shelter, you are actually saving two animals at once. You’re giving one animal a home. You’re also freeing up space in the shelter for another homeless animal.

Adopting A Pet Feels Greatlovely asian woman holding siamese cat

Pets make people happier. It’s a fact backed up by science. Interacting with pets can boost levels of oxytocin, prevent feelings of loneliness, and reduce stress.9,10,11 You know what else makes people happier? Helping others.12 When you head to the Humane Society or some other rescue organization or shelter and save a life, you get an extra emotional boost. It’s science.

Love from any pet is a beautiful thing. But love from an animal who was previously doomed to live in a shelter? It can be a wonderful feeling.

When you bring home your adopted pet and people ask you where you got it, you’ll have the honor of saying you rescued it.

Once you’ve adopted an animal, it may be hard for you to ever imagine shopping for one again. You may join the growing #AdoptDontShop movement. And you just may encourage your friends, neighbors, and community members to do the same.

Learn More:

Wanting To Adopt A New Pet Puppy? Read These Things To Consider Before Getting A Dog

Bringing Home A Puppy: Training, Tips, And Tricks For New Pet Owners

How to Introduce Cats to Each Other