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 The month of October plays host to the national Adopt A Shelter Dog Month and the National Animal Safety and Protection Month. Across the country in all states local shelters will be having pet safety clinics, dog agility demonstrations, and animal adoption specials. Before a person or family adopts a pet, there are many considerations to discuss such as costs, health maintenance, exercise, travel, and when is the best time to incorporate a pet into your household. All pets have inherent costs of purchase, food, veterinarian services, pet find service fees, pet insurance, toys, leashes and collars, medications, inoculations, and other hidden costs such as pet deposits on rental properties. Basically, if a person doesn’t have the money for supporting all of expenses incurred by pet ownership, doesn’t have the time or strength to exercise their dogs, or travels away from home a lot, then they probably shouldn’t have a pet, especially a dog. However, if none of these are issues, then adopting a pet from a shelter can be a truly rewarding and life enhancing experience that can bring joy, health, and affection into the owner’s life.

 The Humane Society of the United States, the American Kennel Club, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and a host of other online sites have very useful information about how, when, and why to adopt pets. Anyone thinking of adopting a pet should do research into the breeds of interest, learn how to adopt from a shelter or pet rescue site, and be ready to spend some money upfront to assure the health, comfort, and good adjustment for their adopted pet. Sadly, over 4 million dogs and cats are euthanized each year in the United States simply because their owners realize after purchasing a pet that they aren’t able to adapt or care for their kitten or puppy. These rejected animals most often are taken to shelters or rescue sites where they await their fate of adoption or death.

 Here are the most common reasons to adopt from a shelter, an animal control agency, or a breed rescue site group:

• Save A Life- Animal shelters are overly crowded, and most often set time limits for every pet that states the time between adoption and euthanization.  Although there are some “no kill” shelters, most are not. When a person adopts a pet, they are really saving two animal lives: the first being their adopted pet; and the second life saved comes from giving their adopted pet’s place to another shelter animal awaiting adoption.

• Save Money- The cost of adopting a pet varies among shelters from being free to charging minimal fees. The cost of buying a pet can run into thousands of dollars for pure breeds and hundreds for a mixed breed. Everyone wanting to adopt a pet should check on all the fees that may be charged at the time of adoption.

• Receive A Healthy Pet- Every animal shelter has already had the animals checked by veterinarians, given vaccinations, spayed and neutered, and washed and flea sprayed to prepare them for adoption. Some shelters may charge a minimal fee for some of these services, such as neutering. Many others will furnish the adoptive owner with papers and documentation of the exact vaccinations and treatments given to their pet prior to adoption.

• The Right Pet For You- Like all other big choices in life, adopting a pet needs to have careful consideration prior to the adoption. You can tell the shelter workers or fill out an application on a breed adoption site that states your preferences, needs, desires, and lifestyle. For example, you may need a dog that is small because you live in an apartment with size restrictions, desire a pet that is older and already house trained, and want one that doesn’t shed. These pets are available, and with the right information and research, every person can have a pet tailored to their needs and suitable to their likes.

• Improvement To Your Health- Many medical research articles have proven results that owning a pet can contribute to better health and wellness for the owner. These healthy benefits are as general as losing weight due to exercising with the pet, and as specific as lowered blood pressure, lengthened lifespan, lower diabetes count, lowered risks of strokes, shorter recover times from surgery, and less rates of anxiety and depression. 

• Help Choosing a Pet- The ASPCA offers prospective pet owners a chance to foster a pet before making the choice of adoptive ownership. This helps a person who doesn’t know much about pet ownership, responsibilities,  and the respective duties of pet co-habitation to take the pet home as a foster pet to experience daily living and to help decide if adoption is the right choice for them and that particular pet.

• Behavior and Support- Many shelters have support programs for adoptive parents of pets to assure they are ready to take the responsibility and maintain the health of their adoptive pet. These programs can include house training, behavior management classes, socialization opportunities, and even how to bathe your pet.

• Avoid Problems- Everyone has heard about the inbreeding done in some breeds that result in physical and emotional problems, overcrowding and poor health maintenance practiced in puppy mills, and the litany of medical problems they might get from purchasing a pet from a pet store. The basic difference between pet store/puppy mills and an animal shelter is profit. Shelters are in the business of matching pets with the right prospective owner, not making profits. Pet stores and puppy mills are interested in turning the quickest and biggest profit on their sales and will often push people to make the purchase right then without further consideration and without the ability to return the pet if something is medically wrong.

• Purebreds- Many people believe that the only way to purchase a purebred dog is through a pet store or breeder. This is not true as purebreds are available on breed specific rescue sites and in shelters. Some shelters estimate that 20- 30% of their shelter animals are purebreds. Online pet rescue sites are available in all states and for most breeds. These breed specific rescue sites are managed by people who are committed to helping maintain the health and happiness of that specific breed, and they are more than willing to be of help in choosing the right pet for the person and their lifestyle.

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