Pass by the puppy store and make your way to the local animal shelter or rescue group.

How Many Animals Are in Shelters?

About 7.6 million animals enter shelters every year, according to the ASPCA. Of these, only 35% of dogs and 37% of cats get adopted. How many animals are euthanized every year? Sadly, about 31% of dogs and 41% of cats, or 2.7 million animals, in shelters are euthanized.

Why Consider a Shelter or Rescue Pet?

Cat out of the bag

Funny cat in bag

  1. Adult pets are housebroken/litter trained, and the days of chewing slippers have long passed
  2. Got your heart set on a purebred pooch or Persian? Many purebreds can be found in shelters. And, rescue groups for specific breeds can be found all over the country.
  3. That pound pooch could be the next four-legged movie star. A frightened stray, scheduled to be put down the next day when animal trainer Bill Berloni discovered her at a shelter, went on to become Sandy in the Broadway musical Annie. Sandy clocked more than 2,300 performances. Learn about more of Berloni’s “From Wags to Riches” stories.
  4. Jonesing for a rabbit, hamster, or bird? It’s not only dogs and cats that are seeking forever homes. Bunnies are plentiful after the Easter rush and cuteness and novelty wear off.
  5. Notable people support adoption, too. The King of All Media, Howard Stern, and his wife Beth are huge promoters of animal adoption. Bianca’s Furry Friends, named for their beloved bulldog, will be a state-of-the-art addition to the North Shore Animal League, a no-kill rescue and adoption organization. In addition to their work with North Shore, the Sterns also foster cats and kittens for adoption and raise money through calendars and books.
  6. Many shelters include the cost of spaying or neutering in their adoption fees. And, most adult pets are “fixed” prior to being made available for adoption. That can be a savings of $50 to $200.
  7. Walking a dog is good exercise and provides an opportunity to meet others. Parks, pet stores, and pet-friendly restaurants are great places to meet other animal lovers.
  8. A companion pet could save your life. Lowered blood pressure, increased survival time after a heart attack, and decreased heart rate are among the many cardiovascular benefits attributed to pet ownership.
  9. Animals have been been found to decrease stress and ease anxiety in children and others.
  10. A study found that elderly people with a dog or cat were better able to perform the “activities of daily living” so important to remaining independent.

Not the Right Time for You to Adopt a Pet?

It’s critical that the time be right for you to devote the time and resources a new family member requires and deserves. You don’t want to take in an animal only to return it to the shelter or rescue group. But, there are plenty of things you can do to help if this isn’t the right time for you:

  1. Conduct a drive. Contact your local shelter and find out what supplies are needed. Don’t forget the toys—they provide exercise and bring joy.
  2. Don’t toss those old towels and sheets. When you buy new linens, donate the old ones to your local shelter. Pillows are always welcome, too.
  3. Volunteer your time. It’s not just scooping poop. Washing linens, providing companionship, bottle feeding kittens, and dog walking are all activities that can help you and the animals.


    Cat with toy

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