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5 Reasons to Adopt a Dog
If Westminster inspires you, here’s some advice
Show Dog, Pomeranian https://flic.kr/p/aqYzih

Early next week, the dogs of the 136th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show charge into Madison Square Garden and onto a television screen near you. Because so many things about dogs are fun, entertaining and joyful, watching the dog show is something I do every year. I even went once, though I will say it’s one of the few events that I found to be better televised, perhaps for the on-air commentary alone.

By all means, watch and cheer for your favorite dogs. But as you do, keep in mind that these dogs are the pampered supermodels of the dog world and not everyone needs to be a supermodel. Some of the very best things about dogs, like their vast capacity for unconditional love, have nothing to do with how closely they conform to the standards of a particular breed.

So, if you’re looking to add a dog to your family this year, and I hope you are, here are five reasons to adopt from an animal shelter or rescue.

  1. Four million. Four million. That’s how many pets are put down in U.S. animal shelters every year, according to the Humane Society of the United States. Every pet counts and all it takes is a little bit of research and preparation on your part and a trip to the shelter and that number gets one life smaller, a life that is not only saved but will add immeasurably to the quality of yours.
  2. Save money while you save a life. In the midst of an economy that can at best be described as struggling, there’s no need to be faced with the four-figure bill that many breeders will charge for a “show quality” purebred dog. When you rescue a dog, the cost is usually limited to a processing fee (which in many cases is less than $150). Additionally, some shelters provide ongoing medical care for their animals at significantly reduced costs, leaving all the more spare cash for chew toys and treats.
  3. The gift that keeps on giving. Adoption fees also help to cover the care and feeding for other animals at the shelter, as well as spay and neuter programs and community outreach. When you adopt, you’re helping not only the dog you rescue but the ones left behind (though hopefully not for long).
  4. Healthier, smarter pets. In many cases, shelter dogs are not the product of a breeding effort to achieve certain traits; as a result, many of the mixed breed dogs found at a shelter are at less risk for certain diseases. And as people who live with mixed breeds will tell you, they can very often be smarter than their purebred counterparts. I personally spent my childhood with a total of 12 different dogs and our Sheepdog-Wolfhound-something-else mix, Max, was one of the most intelligent beings I have ever known.
  5. If you still want a pure-bred dog, that’s OK, too. I get it. There’s nothing wrong with purebreds and if you’re so inclined to certain traits and features, by all means, be inclined. I’m completely devoted to my Westie. (Due to her peculiar bow-legged gait, she was deemed unfit for the show world. That peculiar gait is one of the best things that ever happened to me.) Shelters often have purebreds for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with the dogs’ lack of wonderfulness, so call around and see. Additionally, almost every dog breed under the sun has a rescue group that works to save abused or homeless members of that breed and then find them homes. Many of these rescue groups are remarkable organizations that can provide you not only with the breed of your choice, but also with the opportunity to help others of that breed.
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Alison Pace is the author of four novels, including, Pug Hill and City Dog.
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Submitted by Anonymous | February 12 2012 |

"More than 40 years ago, an average of 20 million dogs and cats were euthanized annually. Humane organizations started a campaign to spay and neuter pets, especially those coming through shelters, and today fewer than four million dogs and cats are euthanized yearly—still terrible, but a vast improvement." According to a Slate article.

The vast majority of dogs that end up at the Las Vegas city shelter (largest in the country) are pitbull mixes, followed marginally by chihuaha mixes. And spaying/neutering is mandatory in that city unless you have a breeding license. The largest problem isn't pure bred dogs, it's irresponsible owners who don't want to bother to spay or neuter, even when it's mandatory, and who don't want to bother to train and socialize their dogs.

Submitted by Shirley Zindler | February 12 2012 |

Bless you for promoting rescue dogs without bashing responsible breeders. I have worked in shelters for many years. I also used to show dogs. I have nothing against the wonderful people who are truly dedicated to showing and even breeding their purebreds, but my energy and finances are now devoted to all the deserving dogs who need forever homes.
If you dont need a fancy show dog, by all means check your local shelter or rescue. We have had purebreds of almost every imaginable breed in our shelter as well as beautiful mixes.
Thanks for a wonderful article.

Submitted by Linda | February 13 2012 |

A rescue is a rescue...I have two pure breed rescues...Moses the Magnificent Komondor and Sophie an Old English Sheepdog..All rescues are precious..

Submitted by Anonymous | February 16 2012 |

You are totally right!!! Purebred can be cute, but I own two shelter dogs and they are adorable. They both have their own special personalties and they are super smart. Plus I helped save 2 lives and didn't support large breeding or puppy mills by gettig them from a shelter.

Submitted by Lori Wagner | April 30 2014 |

I have had mixed and a couple pure breeds and some cats over the years. All of whuch have had some great personalities and so funny! As long as they are treated right they will truly be happy loving animals.

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