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We have spoken a lot about Pit Bull awareness and education since the launch of the Furr-bulous blog earlier this month, but did you know that October is National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month as well? It was established by the American Humane Association back in 1981 in response to the growing number of dogs and puppies entering shelters each year. Think about this for a moment… The issue of homeless pets has been a growing epidemic for nearly 40 years now.
There are an estimated 3.3 million dogs entering the shelter system every year, in the United States alone. That is A LOT of homeless animals in the world.
Through the years I have rescued, fostered and welcomed many dogs into my home. In my experiences as a rescue volunteer, I have found that one of the biggest obstacles to people adopting a shelter dog is their desire of wanting a purebred dog. It’s a valid desire. My first dog as a grown adult, on my own, of 18 years young was a Boston Terrier I purchased for a whopping price of $800. I was young and uneducated about how many homeless dogs existed in the world. And the truth is, the topic of responsible breeding is a very controversial one amongst both sides of the discussion. But I’m not here to argue why you should or shouldn’t purchase your next dog. What I do want to explore with you is why your desire for a purebred dog should not preclude you from considering adopting one from a shelter or rescue. Because I can tell you with conviction, you can find a healthy, happy purebred dog within the shelter system with just a little bit of research, patience and time.
There are definitely limitations. The most obvious one is the inability for shelters and even breed-specific rescues, to verify with certainty their dogs are purebred. Because of this, some people completely eliminate this option. But the truth is unless you are buying from a very reputable breeder, in good standing with a legitimate kennel club, your local pet store or everyday breeder listed in the newspaper may be misidentifying your purebred dog for the sake of making a sale.
The hangup tends to be that buyers want something material to prove their dog will be purebred. People get hung up on having “papers.” But again, unless you are buying from a legitimate kennel-club breeder those “papers” can basically be generated by anyone with fundamental computer knowledge. Those papers guarantee nothing about the quality, health, genetics, temperament, or the breed of the dog being purchased. There are absolutely no guarantees.
Something you might not know is that reputable breeding is a science. It is not as simple as putting two Great Danes together and calling it a win. You have to fully understand genetics because when you don’t, you end up with potentially serious health complications. Blindness, deafness, hip dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy and several hundred other genetic conditions are born out of poor breeding.
If you plan to purchase from an accredited kennel club-registered breeder, be prepared to shell out BIG MONEY. Why not overcome the high expense or the risk of purchasing from a puppy mill or backyard breeder by adopting a purebred dog from a shelter or rescue? Because I’m going to let you in on a little secret: you can quite literally find a rescue organization for every breed of dog. Even the Laggoto Romagnolo!
My point is there is no guarantee you will end up with the “perfect” dog, even when you shop from a breeder. So why not go the rescue route? One thing I can tell you for sure is that rescue groups KNOW THEIR DOGS. Most breed-specific rescues are foster-based organizations, which means the dogs in their care live with a host family and will know everything there is to know about your future family member. You know who you are going home with, which will make the process of adapting a new daily routine that much easier.
Here’s a interesting statistic for you. The National Council on Pet Population Study & Policy reports that 25% of pets in shelters are considered purebred. That is an estimated 825,000 purebreds that are not meeting their forever families because of preconceived notions about what buying a purebred guarantees.
Adopting a shelter or rescue dog also comes with the added perk of shots, basic up-front veterinary care, behavioral and training support and a network of assistance in the event something unexpected pops up; perks you rarely receive from a pet store or breeder. They usually stop caring about the future of your pet the moment they take your money. Remember the Boston Terrier I purchased when I was 18? That sweet baby developed a fluid-filled sac around his neck just two weeks after I brought him home. The breeder I purchased him from went M.I.A. the moment I reached out about this health concern.
Test my theory and use PetFinder.com for a simple way to search for adoptable dogs by breed.
I’ll leave you with one final thought. There are millions of pets currently without a home to call their own. But every single dog deserves the dignity of leaving this earth in a home, loved like each day was their best day, and in the arms of someone who cherished them. Please consider giving a shelter dog his or her forever home.