When you are making the decision to get a pet, you can either get it from a breeder or a shelter. While reputable breeders are good for people who want to ensure they get a specific breed or mix, shelters are a great option for people who have a more general vision of their future pet and want to do something good for society. Fortunately, many people nowadays have seen the benefits of adopting a shelter dog, cat, or other animal, and it has become very common.
Animal shelters are, most obviously, beneficial to stray animals. They are good for their livelihood and welfare, as animals that have to live on the street often suffer from higher rates of disease, injury, and stress. They are vulnerable to dangers like getting run over and wild animal attacks. Animal shelters and the services they provide for catching and accepting stray animals make it so these pets get a second shot at having a happy life with a human owner.
In addition, the more strays that get rescued from the streets, the less society has to deal with the detrimental effects caused by them. Stray animals can pose a danger to people and natural wild animal populations, including endangered animals. They can also overpopulate quickly, which makes these problems worse. Shelters not only catch strays, but also usually neuter them, ensuring that they won’t breed if they ever return to the streets.
Animal shelters can also reduce animal and human suffering in more indirect ways. Many shelters offer programs where people can relinquish animals they can no longer take care of. Shelters let these animals recover from any effects of abuse or neglect, and then they get to be re-adopted by new owners who can give them more fulfilling lives. If this system wasn’t in place, many pet owners would continue to keep pets even when they know they can’t nurture them properly, which would hurt the pet. Or, as an alternative, they would release them into the wild, which could contribute to all the problems associated with stray animals.
Shelters can also give peace of mind to prospective pet owners. Since shelters perform basic vet care, including screening and treating worms, bugs, and other common issues, a person who adopts from a shelter can be sure their animal is healthy. They can also be sure that they are not accidentally contributing to inhumane treatment. While reputable breeders exist, many dogs and cats actually come from breeders that operate under inhumane conditions and are only concerned with producing as many animals as possible. A popular term for the worst of these places is “puppy mills” and “cat mills,” but many backyard breeders and others sources of pets, even ones that may seem reputable at first, also operate under less-than-ideal circumstances. While many shelter animals are originally from places like this, a prospective owner who adopts from a shelter can be assured that they are not promoting bad breeders by spending their money with them.
Finally, shelter animals come with less upfront cost than animals from breeders, which can also be a benefit for the owner. While many shelters request an adoption fee, it is not nearly as high as a typical breeder would demand. The vet services shelters perform are also a deal, as they are either free or provided at a lower cost than taking the pet to a vet.