Deciding to get a dog, cat, or another pet is a big decision. You have to think about vet bills, food costs, how much time and attention these animals will need, training, and so much more. But even with all that pets need, it’s still wonderful to have an animal in your life. It’s even better, at least in my opinion, to have a rescue!

It can be easy to dismiss adopting a rescue. What if you want a specific breed? Or what if you want a puppy? Shelter animals are out of control and have all sorts of health problems! There are so many reasons why people might dismiss getting a rescue but many of these reasons are actually not true or misleading. It is utterly possibly and very likely that you can find the perfect pet for you and your family at a shelter or rescue organization. Here are some reasons you should adopt a rescue and some explanations on the myths behind shelter animals.

Saving a Life

Within the United States, there are sadly too many dogs and cats without homes and overcrowded shelters and organizations that don’t have the space for all the animals that need help. While there are many ‘no kill’ rescue organizations in the country, there are still some that sadly have to put some animals down. Adopting a rescue not only saves them and gives them a wonderful new home but it also allows for these organizations to continue doing great work!

Wanting a Specific Breed

If you are dead set on wanting a specific breed, there are so many animals that are waiting for adoption through rescue organizations that there’s a good chance that you can find the breed and age you want. And if you can’t find the perfect dog for you in a local shelter, there might be a great dog in a nearby shelter or rescue organization! There are so many animals that are currently in shelters and while it might take some time, finding the right animal for your family will be so important for everyone involved.

Plus, there are a few different organizations that work on bringing dogs from one area to another so there’s always a chance that you can find the right dog through one of these organizations. Greg Mahle, for example, is the main force behind Rescue Road Trips and has traveled around the country (especially down to southern states) to rescue many different dogs! To hear more of his story and to learn about his organization, listen to his interview with the podcast ‘PawPrint’ here.

More so, there are other organizations that actually focus on rescuing specific breeds. I actually did a quick search online and found several organizations within the Pacific Northwest that focus on rescuing specific breeds and supporting owners with their new pets! I can’t directly speak about these rescues but here are some of the organizations I found:

Puppies and Senior Dogs

It’s true that kittens and puppies don’t stay too long in shelters (as they are so darn cute!) but there are so many good reasons to adopt older dogs. Many older dogs are often (but not always) socialized and housebroken. And older dogs are just as up for an adventure as young pups! We adopted Rooster at the beginning of his senior years and we’ve still gone on so many adventures with him. Even at 13 years old, we still have so much fun!

Plus, dogs of all ages can be trained; Milo, for example, learned a new trick at the old age of nine years old last year! Training will take time regardless of their age and you have to be ready to put in the time and effort to train any dog.

FUN FACT: In Costa Rica, there’s a dog sanctuary called Territorio de Zaguates (‘Land of the Strays’) that cares for hundreds of mixed breed dogs at any given time. Because of the number of mixed breed dogs and the unique characteristics that many of these dogs have, there are some with the organization that have started making up new breed names for the mutts that call this place home!

Health Problems

There is a pretty good chance that you won’t get a dog or cat with an acute health problem from a shelter. This isn’t a guarantee, as I can’t speak for all shelters, but as far as I know, most shelters won’t adopt out animals that have any sort of acute health problem and tend to foster the animal until they get better.

There might be chronic problems (i.e. needing regular medication or specific kind of care) but there are many shelters that deal with acute problems and will tell you of any health problems that the pet might have. Plus, most shelters also typically spay/neuter animals and will often make sure they’re up to date on vaccines and other shots before being adopted.

There’s also no guarantee that a purebred animal wouldn’t have any sort of health problems. Regardless of their breed or family history, all dogs and cats are going to deal with some sort of health problem while with you. Unless we can magically make these animals immune to literally every illness or injury and stop the effects of aging, there’s a good chance that you’ll have to deal with these issues and having a purebred animal won’t change that.

Behavioral Issues

It’s not always the case that older animals end up in the shelter because they’re problem animals. There are so many reasons why an older animal ends up needing a new home: their owner died or for some unseen reason, couldn’t care for them anymore. There’s always a chance that the reason an older animal is in the shelter for a reason other than themselves.

Shelters might even be aware of any behavioral issues so you don’t go into a situation unprepared. But regardless of that, many dogs are going to need training regardless of their backgrounds. Dogs from breeders and shelters alike are going to need to be housebroken, will need time to adjust to a new home, and might need training/obedience classes.

And there are some behaviors that we might deem ‘bad’ but are just a natural part of an animal’s life. Cats, as an example, are just natural hunters and if they’re indoor/outdoor, they might try to bring you mice, birds, and other small creatures they’ve caught. Similarly, Penny, my family’s first dog, was a pencil and shoe chewer. When left alone for any amount of time, she would just chew up anything near her. This behavior wasn’t out of spite or to be a bad dog (although she did have her sassier moments); there are so many reasons why Penny (and many other dogs like her) chew things. And there are many other ways to discourage that behavior so you don’t keep coming home to damaged shoes.

There are, of course, reasons to why someone can’t adopt a dog and has to go to a breeder. This issue, like many others, is a bit grayer than we really like to think. The biggest reason is allergies, as there are many people with dog and cat allergies that all vary in severity. Some people are able to just take a Benadryl and are fine. But there are others whose allergies can’t be helped with any sort of medication. For those with allergies that want a dog, there are certain breeds that are hypoallergenic but there’s no guarantee that the dogs in shelters will be so.

For many people and families, the love of a dog won’t change if it’s a purebred or a mutt. For many people, the family dog shouldn’t be a trophy and the notion that mutts are somehow ‘less than’ is utterly misguided. Many pets in the United States today are there for companionship, something that mutts and rescue dogs are just as capable of providing. Plus, if you are curious to see what breed your rescue dog is for sure, there are relatively accessible genetic tests that can be done!

I do want to stress that there are valid reasons why someone might not be able to adopt a rescue but if your reasons are tied up in the misconceptions surrounding shelter animals, I do hope that you can at least challenge these ideas. And honestly, many of the challenges that you’ll have with shelter animals will probably also happen with purebred animals. Having to go to obedience training or dealing with medical issues or many other things are going to probably happen to all animals, regardless of their background.

At least in my experience, it’s been fun to have a rescue because their age and breed is always an ice breaker at dog parks or with friends. People here in the Pacific Northwest, at least in my experience, love a good rescue story! There are so many myths and misconceptions around shelter animals but these animals are often loving and incredible. I hope that if you are looking for a new animal to join your family, you’ll consider adopting a rescue!

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