Discuss how to take action in helping wildlife and the environment.
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(This thread is about shelter/pet adoption; for wildlife/symbolic adoption discussion please head to this thread. For saving stray animals directly off the streets, please head to this thread - the discussion there did seem to progress to leaning towards shelter adoption, but I figured it'd be appropriate to have dedicate a seperate thread to solely that. ^^;)
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Hello! I intend for this thread to both function as a resource on information on why you might want to adopt a pet from a shelter rather than buying one from a breeder or pet store, and as a place to share stories about any pets you might have that originally came from a shelter. As shelter adoption seems to have quite a bit of bias against it - often times I hear people claim that they assume shelters only provide 'broken, unwanted animals', or that they'd 'rather have a cute young puppy/kitten/animal and can't get that from a shelter', I hope that together we can provide examples and information to debunk these stereotypes. For these reasons, I also chose to create this topic in Take Action rather than Pets and Domestic Animals.
Please note that the information provided here may very well not be 100% correct, and is based on my own (online) research and understandings. I'm absolutely terrible at properly and thoroughly explaining things, so I very much encourage you to correct misinformation you may find, or suggest your own additions/revisions. Thank you! <3
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Why choose to adopt?
The number of animals inside animal shelters is well in the millions, and although the policies for this vary world-wide, plenty of shelters have to resort to euthanising unwanted pets simply because they lack the room or resources to take proper care of them. Buying rather than adopting a pet further encourages sellers to continue breeding animals, despite there being a surplus of pets to choose from. Be sure to spay and neuter your pets to prevent further unwanted animals from being born!
Additionally, from what I can tell, a lot of American pet stores supposedly get their dogs from so called 'puppy mills' - essentially a commercial breeding facility in which dogs are 'produced' solely for profit, usually in poor living conditions.
By adopting a pet rather than purchasing one, you're potentially saving a life and ensuring your money doesn't go to dodgy breeders - as far as I am aware, animal shelters are largely non-profit organisations ran by volunteers and reliant on outside fundings and adoption fees.
Shelter animal misunderstandings
I've either been unfortunate with the people I've talked to about this, or there's genuinely a bias against shelter animals -- from my experience, people seem to think that animals end up in shelters mainly because they didn't make good pets. This is completely disregarding other possibilities. I've talked to shelter staff, and have been told that more often than not the reason for an animal ending up at them was unfortunate life circumstances of the owners (think moving, poor financial stability, sudden illness - in this particular shelter there was a cat originally owned by a guy that had to go to prison) rather than the pet being a poor companion.
I'm afraid that I personally don't have a lot of direct experience I can add on to this section, as we got our cat as a kitten from a guy who accidentally ended up with a litter - in a way adoption, but she was still young and hadn't been in an actual shelter. However, several friends of mine own cats that came from shelters, and all of them have been nothing but sweet. My favourite out of them is some pitch black cat without eyes; he's the sweetest thing ever and his lack of sight doesn't seem to hinder him an awful lot.
So, as I don't really know what else to add here and am eager to see you guys' input, I'm just going to drop a video of the cat Didga here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNiL9Hv2V5Q . This cat was adopted from a shelter, as well, and as you can see she's still very much awesome.
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TL;DR - Do you guys have any (further) examples or reasons as to why it is better to adopt than to purchase? Any anecdotes about your own shelter pets that might make people feel less discouraged about considering adoption? Please, by all means, do discuss!
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A have a story I would like to share
My grandmother adopted a cat from a shelter, The cat was very depressed, and when she took it home, It ran out of it's carrier and under the bed, any time we came near her she would dart away.
However, A month later I was finally able to get her to peek out, I put cat food in front of the bed and I could see her eat it, and then dart away.
Finally we got the cat back in her carrier, I put my hand up to the grate and she sniffed it.
The next week I visited and I was able to get her to eat a treat off of my hand.
After that, we let her out, and eventually she became a very affectionate cat.
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I would rather adopt than purchase because firstly, animals that are up for adoption need to be adopted, while animals for sale usually don't (they still have a home). Secondly, there are much more animals up for adoption (where I live) than available for purchase. And finally, it's inexpensive.
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I think adopting pets is great as it essentially gives the animal another chance at having a new, better life than which they may have done previously.
Although, when adopting I think it's important for people to pay specific to and take the time to go over the animal's background. The person who is adopting the animal must also be willing to overcome any prominent and/or underlying issues that the animal has as a result of their background. I've heard too many stories of people adopting animals but then giving them back/abandoning them because they were not aware of the animal's background and couldn't cope with the implications of the background as a result (e.g. animal was very hesitant/uncomfortable around older individuals as a result of violence that had been experienced in their previous home). I recall one case I watched on some TV show where a family adopted a dog which was very skinny and had socialisation problems (and behaved in a very skittish manner as a result of this). They didn't really do much to help the dog overcome said issues and eventually they gave up and simply kept the dog in a cage until they returned it back to the shelter they adopted it from. It's sad when cases like that happen, but of course, there are plenty of success stories with adoption!
I don't have any personal experience with adopting a pet but I would love to do so at some point when I have the time, money, and ability to spend time with the pet. Although as I mentioned before, I've known many stories of animal adoption; all with mixed endings.
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I'd like to share a story.
Once upon a time my Dad was terrified of dogs, even little puppies. They would all growl, bark, and snarl at him. Till one day (it took me years of convincing) Dad agreed to get a dog, so we checked out the local shelter.
When we went into the waiting room, where my Dad was, to show off the dog we were interested in (a husky mix), Dad was terrified! But, instead of growling at him like all other dogs did, the husky just sniffed my Dad, wagged his tail, and lied down to be petted. My Dad's said it himself - that dog (we adopted him) cured him of his HUGE phobia of dogs.
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We always talk about this with my classmates. At least here in Chile we have a big problem that is that we have way too many stray dogs and we fail to control the animal population. People here do not know how to take proper care of their animals. Basically what most people do here, is that instead of getting the dog for a walk, with a leash, they just open the gate and allow the dog outside alone. Of course the dog might get lost, reproduce, bite people, bite other dogs, etc.
Adopting is a great way for controlling animal population. You give a second chance to an animal that is innocent and never wanted to live strolling around all its life. I currently own 3 adopted dogs, and all of them are grateful of being my family's pets.
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I have heard that many times people are scared of adopting a rescue dog due to behaviour issues and illness. This is a good thing because yes, they are more likely to have problems - but what many people who have these fears do not realize is that the shelter is not trying to fool them in any way and would not give a pet to you that you could not handle, if they're doing their job right that is. I adviced my friend to make it clear to the rescue she was adopting a dog from that it was going to be her first dog and that it had to be one that did not have any major issues. The pup we chose together with her and the rescue person and myself is a great pet and one wouldn't even guess its origins.
I have 3 dogs in my family, two of them are from a shelter and one was originally from a kennel but whose owner could not keep it anymore so I took her to live with me. The rescued ones are like night and day: the male dog is "a good pet", has no issues whatsoever, never had, and is a nice example of a dog that was found on the street becoming imo a cooler dog that we could have ever found anywhere else. The female dog I chose personally, and well, she is a handful, has a very bad case of fear-aggression etc. I knew of her issues from the beginning and perhaps that is the reason I chose her - I was fairly confident I could find a way to live with the poor creature and knew that she was less likely to find a home than the other dogs. She requires a lot of work and attention but the relationship we share is something I cannot even begin to explain... I have watched her grow from a shadow of a dog to an amazing "person". (Ofc I do not recommend taking a dog this difficult if you are not sure you can manage and/or afford a trainer to help you, just saying that even a dog like this not a lost case.)
So yeah I wanted to share this with you to show that there are many kinds of rescues and people should have more open mind on them. Being honest about your experience with dogs and everything else when adopting a dog is key to find one that suits you.
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If I may, I’d like to share a story of mine as well. I foster quite a few shelter animals, and I am particular on which animals I bring to my home; most of them are special, and require some extra TLC. Many of the cats I take in have been In shelters for quite some time, and I take them over average cats so they can be able to live comfortably until they find a forever home. But before I did this, they would get called “ugly” or “repulsive” because their deformities. It breaks my heart nobody will adopt a special needs cat because they think they’re “poor is taste.” I think my special babies have a big, and some cases even bigger heart than any cats I’ve come to meet.
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My cat came from a rescue shelter, and he was already a few years old when I got him. He was very shy at first, but as he began to settle he became a truly wonderful, loving pet. He used to freak out at the slightest of things, but now he is so brave he has even chased away a trespassing dog. He still won't let me pick him up, but I have managed to get him to let me give him short hugs. He will also curl up next to me almost daily now, and if I accidentally disturb him, he just purrs.
Some rescued animals require a lot of patience, but I find it can be really rewarding if you're willing to put the time in. The amount of time and care animals require of course depends on their history. Animals which have been treated badly in the past may be extra fearful, and I have even heard of dogs showing aggression towards people who remind them of their old owner. (There's a dog from a rescue place who lives near me, and he used to bare his teeth at adult men, but no one else.) Although it may take a lot of time to gain trust from some pets, there are also many others who don't need as much TLC.
If you are looking to adopt a pet from a shelter, it is a good idea to ask the staff for information about any individuals you are interested in. Not only could this help prevent you from ending up with a pet which isn't right for you, it could also help you understand the individual pet and its needs.
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I hope this isn't too long for people to read, as I think it is an interesting story. Although of course I am very biased, this being my dog .
My family's first and only dog (so far) came from the local shelter. We were lucky, because shortly after our family decided to get a dog in 2008 and began doing research, one became available that fit our desire for a herding breed. She was a mixed breed puppy (less than a year old) that was strongly suspected to contain Australian Shepherd (guess for yourself below--sometimes I wonder if Border Collie is in there too). We didn't know anything about her history.
While adopting an animal is a wonderful concept, I think I would strongly consider going to a breeder for my next dog. A good breeder can give you information about the particular animal and the breed that you may not be able to find on your own. They can help you select a dog that will fit your interests and needs with less guesswork, saving potential heartache and even vet bills. Cue in the anecdote...
The dog we adopted is now 11 years old, and is beginning to show the years. But she has had a great life of daily exercise and care. But around 6 years of age, she unexpectedly developed Addison's Disease. Unfortunately we couldn't possibly have predicted this onset; the disease is not necessarily inherited (not that we knew her family history anyway), but she met certain risk factors like being female and older than 5 years. It is actually fairly rare, in both dogs and people. In short, she can no longer produce the hormone cortisol on her own. Cortisol returns the body to "normal" after physiological stress. Being in a state of stress isn't bad, but not being able to come down from it is. She gets monthly shots containing cortisol and daily prednisone.
Fortunately Addison's is treatable once you get the dosages right, but the financial cost to get there is fairly significant, even for a middle class family. There is a lot of blood work checkups to be done as well, throughout the dog's life. I have read accounts of some people having to adopt our their dog, because of the costs, which is tragic. Thanks to some Facebook support groups dedicated to Addisons in dogs though, we were able to show our local vet a scientific paper advocating for a "low dosage" Addison's treatment that was shown to work just as well as the standard higher doses do. We were strongly encouraged by the online Addison's community to show this paper to our vet, in order to save significant costs. My scientific background also aided my understanding of what the paper entailed; I trusted its findings enough to bring a copy of the paper to our vet, as well as an open letter from the primary author (who was a vet also). Our dog was the first Addison's case seen at our particular vet, so she became a sort of "guinea pig" for doing this low-dose protocol fo our vet. We were so lucky our vet knew of the signs of Addisonian crisis initially though, and to consider doing the Addison's test for certain key electrolyte levels. Our dog is good now/stable on this protocol, and hopefully other local pet owners can use the protocol too.
Anyway, where I am going with this story is that certain dog breeders are dedicating their lives to creating healthy animals that they carefully place into ideal homes. I think I am willing to pay that higher upfront cost knowing that I am making an informed choice about what I can expect from a particular puppy and the breed in question, and having that ability to contact the breeder later with inquiries and get support. While Addison's is not something that can be easily forecasted (with the exception of Standard Poodles, which actually do show a higher instance of the disease than other breeds), many diseases are, and breeders tracking this can inform dog owners of what's to come with their dogs. Golden Retrievers and Bernese Mountain dogs dying young from cancer is a sad thing for owners unaware of this unintentional inbreeding consequence, for example.
With that said, many people have had entirely positive experiences from adopting, just as bad breeder experiences are a thing too. I just think I will give the breeder thing a go next time, to gain more knowledge about the animal I'm getting. I personally won't get a herding breed again; in general terms, they are honestly quite clever, almost too clever for inexperienced owners such as myself, and are also quite sensitive to their environments. They are very people-dependent too by breed, bordering into overly needy. Had we gone to a breeder, we may have learned things about this breed that internet-based research may not have mentioned.
But with that said, I hope people aren't getting a bad impression of myself or the quality of life my dog is receiving (which I think is almost better than average, given that she is aging healthy otherwise). I am just sharing an honest reflection of my experiences so I can learn for next time .
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Here's my experience with adopting animals. My rabbit is a rescue and has been in 2 other homes before I adopted it. Although some people say that rescued animals are antisocial my rabbit is very social and likes pets.