So, You're Ready to Get a Dog?
Diane Pomerance knows what people say about adopting pets from animal shelters and rescue organizations. "They think, 'I don't want to inherit someone else's problem,' or they simply think all the dogs there are abused or hard to train, or that they won't be able to find the breed that they want," said Pomerance, author of seven books about pets, including Our Rescue Dog Family Album (www.animalcompanionsandtheirpeople.com). Her family has saved and adopted more than 40 rescued dogs over the years, and currently have 21 in their home. In addition, she has helped place hundreds more with good homes. "All of those notions couldn't be further from the truth, and in fact, buying from the pet shop can be more hazardous than adopting one from a shelter."
Pomerance does not work for an animal shelter or animal welfare organization. She is simply an individual who has devoted much of her personal life to rescuing these dogs because she feels strongly about the value of these animals and the many gifts they can offer people. She also believes that people view animal shelters in a poor light because of their adherence to many popular - but erroneous - myths about shelter dogs:
Most shelter dogs are sick or aggressive from abuse - Rescued dogs receive better care and feeding than pet shop dogs, and they are treated by veterinarians before they are offered for adoption. In addition, they are far more affordable to adopt and care for, since many shelters and rescue groups offer free adoptions, and excellent veterinary services at significantly reduced rates. Also, most shelters don't allow dangerous animals to be adopted.
Pet Shop dogs are better quality animals - Pet shops typically get their dogs from puppy mills that breed them in unsanitary and inhumane conditions, which means many new owners bring home pets with illnesses not immediately obvious or disclosed at the time of sale, and they are offered no compensation for it. So, buying at a pet shop means paying top dollar, sometimes over $1,000 for a dog, and then paying top dollar for private veterinary care to treat any initial illnesses many pet shop dogs contract.
Most of the dogs who are euthanized wouldn't make good pets, anyway - Rescuing a dog helps deplete the high population of animals in these shelters and reduces the number of good, faithful, loving animals that are euthanized every year. It's not just the sick or dangerous dogs who are euthanized at shelters. In most cases, many dogs who would make good pets are euthanized because of overcrowding in the shelter
"Animals are deserving of our respect and appreciation, which is why we should try to be responsive individually to the crisis facing animal shelters today," Pomerance added.
"They perform many important tasks for us - in the military, as bomb and weapons detectors, as service animals, as healing companions and friends of the lonely and bereaved and even as search and rescue assistants in natural as well as man-made disasters. They heal and even save human lives. It is scientifically substantiated that animal companions increase our longevity and improve the quality of our lives. We should also realize that getting a family pet should not be a decision or choice that is taken lightly. You're not buying a car or getting a new electronic toy to play with - these are living, breathing, loving creatures with whom we share our world. If we choose to share our family with one, we should take care to ensure we choose carefully and prudently so we can enhance not only our family's life, but the dog's, as well."
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