So, you’re strolling through a mall or a shopping center, browsing your local newspaper’s classified section, or maybe you’re looking for something to buy on Craigslist and then you see them: the cutest little balls of fur romping around in their little pens, just begging you to purchase them. And then you do, because they are “pure-bred.” Because they “have papers.” Which somehow makes them a better choice than a shelter animal with goodness-knows-what issues. Right?
I purchased Riley, my first boxer, seven years ago from a breeder out on a farm. I found him in the local paper. And although I’m ashamed to admit it, I purchased my second boxer, Maddie, on Ebay. She was a Christmas gift to my husband (who, by the way, didn’t even want another dog). She was the last of the litter and they needed to “get rid” of her, so I got her for a “deal.” I actually made myself feel better by convincing myself that I rescued her from Ebay.
Because of our business, Paws Pet Care Pet Sitting & Dog Walking, we spend a large amount of time in the community networking with other businesses, rescue groups and non-profits. I had plenty of opportunities to foster or adopt, but out of true ignorance, even I had reservations about adopting a pet.
I mean, a shelter pet is obviously not a good pet or the owner wouldn’t have gotten rid of it, right? A shelter pet was probably abused, so it would never fit in with my family because I have children and it might turn out to be aggressive. You never know what you’re getting with a shelter/rescue pet, right? Shelter pets are usually sick or unhealthy, right?
WRONG. There are many misconceptions about the quality of animals found in rescue shelters. The stigma that shelter pets have been stuck with for many years is that they are “damaged goods.” I understand how ignorant I was now, because I decided to adopt my third dog, “Biscuit,” a pitbull mix.
“Biscuit” changed my perception of rescue and shelter animals forever. She came into my life through my relationship with an organization here in Louisville called “Saving Sunny.” They rescue, rehabilitate and re-home animal victims of abuse, neglect and those that are in danger of euthanasia. Most of their dogs are described as “bully breeds,” including a variety of American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, American Bulldogs, Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers and other misunderstood breeds or breed mixes. Biscuit is a pit-mix and the minute I saw her, I fell in love with her. I can’t even explain why, but there was a definite connection from the very start. I was still afraid to make the commitment to keep her, so I decided to foster her. After having her in our home for two months, getting her ready to be adopted by a good home, I couldn’t give her up. She had already
The facts about rescues and shelter animals are simple. Shelter pets aren’t there because they are “bad.” Perhaps their owner passed away or was irresponsible and didn’t get their pet spayed or neutered and found themselves with a litter of babies that they couldn’t keep. Perhaps the owner was abusive and the animal was removed or someone adopted a pet and didn’t take into consideration the responsibility that it would involve – and so decided to “get rid” of it.
It is also an absolute myth that all animals that have been mistreated or abused will not be good pets. Most animals coming from abusive homes will typically make a full emotional recovery – with the proper care and attention. In fact, many of them are so grateful to be rescued from their previous situation, they end up being more devoted and loyal than animals coming from non-abusive homes. And while it is true that some rescue/shelter pets may have some medical issues, most of them are perfectly healthy and just need a family to call their own.
There are several animal rescues and shelters here locally that are overflowing with adoptable pets, and are begging responsible potential pet-parents to adopt. Please make a responsible choice the next time you decide to add a pet to your family. Don’t shop –ADOPT!