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    Growing Your Family, Four Feet At A Time

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    When considering ad new pet to add to their families, pet owners should consider adopting versus shopping with a breeder. Whether from a shelter, or a foster or rescue group, adopting pets is a better option than purchasing a pet from a breeder. Pedigreed animals come with papers, but the love of a pet is more than a breed, it is about the relationship with the animal. Rescue animals offer a lot to the people that love them. Adoption from a shelter or a rescue group saves the life of an animal, the pet’s health has been checked out and avoids the potential cruelty of breeders.

    Each year, in the United States, close to 2.7 million pets are euthanized in shelters (Barley 49). Another 2.7 million are adopted (Barley 49). Animals from a shelter have their shots, have been spayed or neutered and have lower fees than purchasing a pet (Summers 20). Most pets in shelters are there through no fault of their own; their owners became sick or no longer had money to care for them. Or, they were strays (Barley 50). By adopting, new pet owners can save the life of an animal in a shelter.

    Rescue groups are another source for adoptable pets. These groups work with veterinarians and trainers to rescue dogs from kill-shelters before they are euthanized (Summers 5). These groups test for more sicknesses than shelters and check to be sure the owner cannot be found (Summers 6). Between 2015 and 2016, a study at Tufts University looked at 21,409 dogs from a shelter in Kanab, UT (Crowe and Patronek, 3). The study found that older dogs in foster care were twenty times more likely to be successfully rehomed. In fact, 98.9% of the animals in foster care in this study were rehomed (Crowe and Patronek, 7). Additionally, the dogs that had been in foster care were less likely to have health concerns (Crowe and Patronek, 7). Rescuing from a foster group can give you more information about how the animal interacts with people.

    Dogs from breeders are not excluded from sickness or other concerns individuals may have from adopting a shelter dog. Some breeders do not allow females to have time to heal between litters, resulting in her becoming sick (Montgomery 452). Other issues such as not enough food, poor living conditions and not enough clean water also make the animals sick. Another concern about these dogs is inbreeding. When animals are inbred, it can cause problems with increased genetic mutations such as deformities and even deafness (Johnstone, et al 855).

    There are some valid reasons for seeking a purebred pet. In the case of working animals, some characteristics, like being a good hunter, are important. Some breeds are better at hunting specific animals than others. For example, the Swedish Drever is known for deer hunting while the Vallhund is an excellent watchdog and cattle herder (Jansson and Laikre, 18). If an owner has allergies, some dog breeds have hair rather than fur. For those individuals only interested in owning a purebred animal, shelters may still be a good option. As many as one-quarter of the animals in shelters, or with rescue groups are purebred.

    Rescuing a dog from a shelter or foster group saves a life. These animals are seeking a family to love and care for them. If a pedigree dog is important to the owner, one should know that about a quarter of shelter dogs are purebred (Summers 13). Adopting a pet is the most rewarding way to grow a family, four feet at a time.

    Works Cited

    1. Barley, Lisa. “Rescue Me.” Vegetarian Times, no. 417, Dec. 2014, pp. 48–51. EBSCOhost,,shib&db=awh&AN=99344334&site=eds-live&scope=site.
    2. Jansson, Mija, and Linda Laikre. “Pedigree Data Indicate Rapid Inbreeding and Loss of Genetic Diversity within Populations of Native, Traditional Dog Breeds of Conservation Concern.” PLoS ONE, vol. 13, no. 9, Sept. 2018, pp. 1–17. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0202849.
    3. Montgomery, Mitch A. .. “North Carolina’s Puppy Mill Problem: New Commercial Breeding Standards Won’t Solve the Problem, but They’re a Start.” Elon Law Review, vol. 7, no. 1, Mar. 2015, pp. 449–466. EBSCOhost,,shib&db=lgs&AN=102374400&site=eds-live&scope=site.
    4. Summers, Alex. Rescue and Shelter Dogs. Rourke Educational Media, 2015. EBSCOhost,,shib&db=nlebk&AN=965579&site=eds-live&scope=site.
    5. Gary J. Patronek, and Abbi Crowe. “Factors Associated with High Live Release for Dogs at a Large, Open-Admission, Municipal Shelter.” Animals, no. 4, 2018, p. 45. EBSCOhost, doi:10.3390/ani8040045.
    6. Sommerlad, S. F., et al. “Consequences of a Screening Programme on the Prevalence of Congenital Hereditary Sensorineural Deafness in the Australian Cattle Dog.” Animal Genetics, vol. 45, no. 6, Dec. 2014, p. 855. EBSCOhost,,shib&db=edb&AN=99019952&site=eds-live&scope=site.

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