Reporter’s Corner:

Five reasons to adopt a shelter pet

On Tuesday, April 30, pet owners in America celebrated National Adopt A Shelter Pet Day, and while I am a few days past the mark, this is one topic I'd love to share – late or not.
My current canine companion, a spoiled (rotten) Dachshund/Chihuahua mix, was the first shelter pet I had ever brought home.
I saw her after the shelter in Marianna, FL published her picture on their Facebook page; the tiny, big-eyed baby was so small, she could fit into your hand and almost immediately, I fell in love.
I later learned that she and her sister had been dropped off at the shelter in the middle of the night without so much as a note.
They had been left unprotected in a cardboard box and were so delicately small, that I wondered how anyone could consider abandoning them overnight.
On March 20, 2015, that small, rowdy puppy came home with me. It took less than an hour, and she'd warmed up completely to me and her new family of (much bigger) dogs and kids.
Along with that puppy, my family eventually adopted from the same shelter a five-year-old Walker Coonhound who had lived her whole life in the confines of a kennel after being brought into the shelter at only a few months old because she had gone blind in one eye and her original owner deemed her “useless” for hunting; an Australian Shepherd mix that had been brought into the shelter as part of an unwanted litter of half-blood puppies; and a skittish little pit-mix who has since blossomed into a dedicated nanny-dog with the biggest heart of any canine I have ever met.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, it is estimated that between 6-8 million cats and dogs enter shelters every year, with three million of those animals being euthanized – it is believed that somewhere between 1.5 and 2.4 million of those euthanized animals are healthy and friendly.

Reasons to adopt a shelter pet include:
• You might be saving a life: Even when you choose to adopt from a no-kill facility, you are saving and prolonging the life of a cat or dog that would have continued to live in a concrete and wire kennel for the rest of its life.
• It is more cost effective: Shopping for pets can be daunting – the purchase price for purebred pets from breeders can be even more so. While you might not be getting a pedigree pet when you choose to adopt over shopping, you save more than a life – you save money too.
• You will join the fight against puppy mills and irresponsible breeders: Not every dog breeder is irresponsible with their animals, in fact, some are wonderful places to get a pet. But unless you know how to find those responsible breeders who care for the lives and quality of lives of their animals, you are more likely to be making a purchase with a breeder who over-breeds their animals and only cares about profits. This is especially true if you purchase a puppy through an online marketplace.
• You are supporting a community organization: Most humane societies or adoption centers (such as Jefferson County's Wolf Creek Pet Adoption Center) are nonprofit organizations that exist purely to benefit the animals and pet owners of the county.
• You can skip the puppy phase: It's easy to fall in love with the big-eyed puppies or fuzzy kittens (I did, after all), but shelters are full of older dogs and cats who still have plenty of love to give and are less likely to need housebreaking or training.
With my Dachshund/Chihuahua mix, I entered a new mindset of realizing that I could never again adopt a cat or dog from a place that didn't act as a rescue or a shelter; my days of breeder-purchasing were gone.
When adopting a shelter pet into your family, you are doing more than simply adding an animal to your home – you are giving a love-hungry cat or dog a second chance at life, a family of their own, and a human to follow to the ends of the world.