December 17, 2017

Adopt, don't shop for pets

Posted

As the months go by, my coworkers and family have decided that I am officially a crazy cat lady, as I recently adopted a second cat.

As I have explained to many of them, the assumption that cats are loners is simply incorrect. My adopted 2-year-old mini-panther, Salem, was home alone too often for my liking and she began to act depressed and clingy. She would cry whenever I wasn’t paying attention to her. I consulted online sources to see what I should do.

I bought more toys for her to play with and spent my lunch breaks letting her chase a fake mouse around the apartment, but she was still sullen when I would leave for work.

After a few months of looking, I found a litter of 9 week-old kittens for adoption at a local shelter. One little guy in the bunch immediately came over to me, sat on my lap and began playing with my sleeves, a sure sign he would be good company for Salem and keep her occupied. I signed the application papers and after receiving a message that I had been approved, I was instructed to pick him up the following week.

My little Charlie, as he is now known, is a wildcard. He has a tuxedo coat with a black diamond on his nose, just below his big, brown eyes. He’s hyper and playful, exactly what I needed. As I find myself coming to work covered in tiny scratches, I can’t help but laugh a little at the audacity. He’s not perfect, but he’s learning, and he’s kept Salem in a better mood. When she seeks my attention now, it’s only for affection, not comfort.

While this may be a heartwarming success story of adoption, there are still so many pets out there still looking for the same thing. Unfortunately, many people still choose to shop through pet stores and breeders to get exactly what they’re looking for, or so they think.

Each year, 2.7 million adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized, according to humansociety.org. Shelters can’t afford to keep an unlimited number of animals and must cycle through to get the best adoption rates.

Adopted pets have been shown to be psychologically, emotionally and physically beneficial to their companions. By adopting a pet, not only are you saving the life of that animal, but you’ve also made room at the shelter for another to come in and possibly find a home, not to mention the positive benefits of having a pet at home.

One complaint I’ve heard about adopting animals from shelters is, “But I won’t find exactly what I’m looking for. I want a specific breed.”

You’d be amazed how much you can love a pet that looks a little different than what you were hoping for. Many of the dogs in shelters have been waiting for their forever home for a long time and have been saving all that love for their potential owners.

There is also the possibility of your pet having come from a puppy mill and having to watch it suffer through life with genetic diseases that could have been avoided. Many pet shops don’t verify housing situations for the animals they sell and many disorders won’t begin to show until the pet ages. Breeders have been known to fake pedigree papers in order to sell a higher volume of pets as well.

Another complaint I’ve heard is, “It’s too expensive! I’m not paying for a cat I could get for free!”

Many shelters include spay and neuter procedures, vaccinations, microchips and a few bags of food in the adoption fee. Anything leftover goes to help other animals still in the care of the shelter. Breeders charge hundreds or thousands of dollars for a single pet, which you will then have to train and pay for veterinary services for as it grows.

To assist with adoption fees, the Bissell Pet Foundation hosts an Empty the Shelters event each year in Michigan to connect people with animals, and this year it is scheduled for April 29. BPF will sponsor all adoption fees that day to encourage adoption in the 65 participating shelters across the state. Many local shelters host similar adoption days throughout the year in which the fee is covered.

Yes, I may be a crazy cat lady, but it’s because I see the value in having animals around and I encourage anyone interested in getting a new furry friend to adopt, not shop. Help an animal in need and bring some more love into your home.

For more information or to find participating locations, visit bissellpetfou

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