Written by Rachael Gillis
It’s that time of year again! With the warm weather making a comeback to the Northeast, more people are looking for a new companion with whom they’ll share their summers (and beyond). Not so fast though, because there are some things everyone should know before taking the leap. In my years of volunteering with animal shelters, working in various veterinary settings, and adopting a few rescue pets myself, I’ve learned some critical things about rescue pets. Be prepared, some of these may be shocking.
1. Limited Options
First, I must address the limited options there are in rescue pets. Turns out, there really is no limit to the available options and you can basically find whatever you want out there. Purebred, couch potato, hiking buddy, 8 weeks old or 8 years old, you name it and you can probably find a rescue animal that fits your exact lifestyle and preferences. This is because there’s typically more behavioral and health information available from rescues and organizations than there is on a pet from a breeder or pet store. Along with that, millions of animals of all shapes, sizes, ages, and species enter shelters and rescues every year, so you have plenty to choose from. Variety and abundance? You can be as picky as you want!
2. Not an Easy Search
Once you decide what you want, it’s not easy to find a local shelter or rescue; it’s very easy. You can start looking on websites like Petfinder and Adopt a Pet where you can run a customized search for adoptable animals near you from the comfort of your own home. So for those of you who were hoping to search far and wide for that special pet, sorry to disappoint. There is such a vast number of shelters and rescues in this particular area and each offers something different. Looking for a certain breed? Rescues like the Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue and the Patriot Siberian Husky Rescue offer specific breeds of all ages. Looking for the “shopping” experience? The Northeast Animal Shelter is a no-kill shelter with 5+ rooms full of kennels and cages. Want a more relaxed setting? Great Dog Rescue New England offers home visits to dogs being fostered. Not a cat or dog person? Animal Rescue League of Boston and MSPCA at Nevins Farm have you covered with everything from small and furry, to flying and feathered, to hooved or horned. Better yet, all of these organizations will work with you to match you with the perfect fit for your needs. You can’t go wrong! Okay, they win this round.
3. Outrageous Price
I can’t explain to you how much money you will save by adopting a pet from a shelter or rescue. Adoption fees are generally much lower than buying from a breeder or pet store. While adoption fees normally range from $25-$700, buying a pet can cost $1,000+. Rescue pets are also usually already vaccinated, microchipped, spayed/neutered, dewormed, and tested for heartworm and intestinal parasites. Some shelters even provide certificates for discounted exams and spay/neuter procedures at local veterinary hospitals. Basically, they want to give you a healthy pet for a reasonable price. Forget about that little weekend trip you were thinking about, you’re going to have to plan an entire tropical getaway with all that saved money. What a hassle.
4. Good Luck Trying to Train Them
Don’t get me started on how well-behaved most of the adult pets already are. House-trained? Done. Sit? Stay? Easy. Good with other animals or kids? Already evaluated. This is because many rescue pets have already spent time in a home or have been socialized in some way. Many pets are surrendered to shelters because the owner was facing financial or personal issues that didn’t allow them to continue care. Some rescue organizations also have foster homes that pets stay at while they wait for their forever homes, and shelters have teams of awesome staff and volunteers who spend lots of time with the animals. Think of it this way: adult rescue animals are like seasoned pets that have been there, done that. Some shelters even have certified trainers and volunteers that work with the animals to ensure that each and every one is ready for a new home.
Sorry, new pet owner, but you’re just going to have to deal with a well-trained animal. But, if you’re still looking to put your carpets through the grueling process of house-training, puppies are plentiful throughout shelters and rescues. Phew! At least we still have that.
5. You Get Labeled
Yeah, that’s right. By adopting a pet, you inevitably become a responsible animal humanitarian. When you adopt, you are not only saving the life of that pet, but that of another that can now take its place.
Did you know there are over 70 million homeless pets in the U.S. alone? This outnumbers homeless people 5 to 1. Furthermore, many people are still not aware of the cruel nature of puppy mills which supply pet stores with over 2 million puppies every year. With that kind of volume, many of these puppies don’t even get sold and end up getting dropped off at shelters, adding to the countless animals that are surrendered, abandoned, and picked up off the street. Many people also don’t know about the cruel nature of the exotic animal trade. These animals, primarily reptiles, amphibians, and rodents, often endure miserable living conditions while they are bred and shipped to major pet stores across the country. If you instead adopt from a rescue, you would be supporting the fight against immoral breeding practices and homeless animals all at once. Heck, you may even help shut down a few puppy mills and inhumane breeders along the way. Unfortunately, that’s just the type of person you are now.
6. Gruesome Side Effects
I saved the best (or worst) for last. For many rescue animals, all they have seen in their lives so far is neglect, abuse, terror, and learning to live on their own. They have every reason not to trust humans, but for some remarkable reason they learn how to love. And boy do they! So be ready when you bring one home. Say goodbye to things like personal space, loneliness, and even anxiety. You may also experience the following horrors: extreme face licking, intense cuddling, cute noise making, food begging, and constant following around your house. *Shudders* And if you think that’s bad just wait for what will happen to YOU. You could be happier, feel physically and/or mentally healthier, smile more, learn new things, and you may even develop excessive baby talk tendencies. A rescue pet will force you to realize what’s important in life and load you with adventures and memories for many years to come. Sometimes they may pretend like they don’t hear you calling their name and occasionally steal food off your plate, but they will always (eventually) put that smile back on your face. Whether they’re furry, feathered, or covered in scales you will be their hero and they will love you unconditionally. No pressure, though.
Well there you have it. Are you sure you’re ready for these horrible consequences? On a serious note, please consider adopting when looking for a new companion. But if adopting isn’t for you, please be a responsible and informed shopper. Choose a certified, credible breeder and do your research to find out which pet and breed is right for you and your family.