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As we see it: Adopt don’t shop

One of our favorite things each week is looking at the photos of the new pet of the week. Seeing those adorable faces, and knowing that we might play a small role in helping those good boys and girls find their forever homes, makes us happy. Most of those pups find a home pretty quickly, it seems. Every once in a while we’ll see a dog put up for pet of the week a second time, but never more than that. Never, that is, until now. 

We understand that for some families the $75 adoption fee might seem steep. It’s nothing compared to what you’ll pay if you purchase a purebred breed, and it covers important medical costs like spaying or neutering and immunizations. But it is a cost. Despite these costs we support adoption over purchasing a pet, even if you go through an animal rescue for the breed you prefer rather than through the local animal shelter. 

But, if what you want is a companion and you aren’t hung up on breed, we urge you to visit our local shelter. You can interact with different animals there, and see which one seems to click with you and fits your lifestyle. Staff can likely tell you which ones need a lot of exercise, if you’re an active person, or which ones are going to be more content lounging with you on the couch. 

If your child has been wanting a pet you can teach them a lot about social responsibility, and taking responsibility for animals under your care, through adoption as well. 

And never let yourself be scared away by the adoption fee. 

Sometimes a pet gets sponsored by someone who covers a portion of the costs, leading to reduced adoption fees of $25. And sometimes we have a pet like Douglas, who gets his adoption fee waived altogether. 

This is Douglas’s third time as our pet of the week 

We don’t know why Douglas is having a hard time finding a home. Maybe it’s because he isn’t a puppy anymore. At two-years-old he looks full grown, nowhere near the tiny, cute puppies that everyone wants to take home. But Douglas still has years of play, fun, love and companionship to share with a family. 

Maybe it’s because Douglas isn’t a purebred. The shelter says he is probably a lab mix. All we know for sure is that he’s a sweet dog, and he wants to be loved, just like a pit or a beagle or a German shepherd. 

We also know that, even though he hasn’t been adopted yet, Douglas is one of the luckier dogs. Hundreds of unwanted puppies are born every year, and many of them end up abandoned. Some of them end up hit by cars. Some of the luckier ones end up in no-kill shelters like Carter County’s shelter. The luckiest of them all find families that want to give them a home. 

According to the ASPCA, around 3.3 million dogs are surrendered to shelters every year. This is down by a couple hundred thousand over the last ten years, but it’s still a staggering number. Around 670,000 of those are euthanized and another 1.6 million are adopted. Another 620,000 are reunited with thankful owners. But that still leaves a number in no-kill shelters or dog rescues with no hope of adoption. Dogs like Douglas. 

Now, don’t think we’re trying to guilt you into taking Douglas. You shouldn’t take a dog you aren’t prepared for. If you are ready to share your home with a dog you should make sure it’s a dog that suits you, and Douglas may not be the dog that best suits you and your family. 

What we are trying to do is use Douglas as an example to get you thinking about positive pet ownership. While we talked about the number of animals in shelters that need homes, we haven’t talked about the terrible conditions in many puppy mills that source purebred dogs for the pet trade. 

We haven’t talked about responsibly spaying or neutering your pet, be it dog or cat, to help cut down on the number of unwanted ferals and strays. 

We haven’t talked about how pet ownership is a lifetime commitment; one that can last a decade or more if you’re lucky. 

But these are all things we want you to think about before you decide on a pet – be it mongrel or purebred, puppy or senior dog. Make sure you’re ready to take on the responsibilities that come with your pet before you take them home. Because if you don’t, they – or their puppies – might end up like poor Douglas; waiting and waiting for a forever home that may never come.

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