Adopt don't Shop

Broken, beaten, abandoned and eventually forgotten: dogs, cats and pets of all kinds experience these traumas daily when left in shelters.

Sometimes the animals facing abuse are only a couple months old.

With the New Nodaway Humane Society (NNHS) seeing a large increase in adoption rates, many of these neglected animals have a great opportunity to find their fur-ever home.

Besides adopting, there are two other ways to take ownership of an animal. Animals can be purchased from a breeder or they can be bought from a pet store.

This being said, pet stores have faced scrutiny over where they get their pet stock in the first place. Puppy mills are sometimes a retailer’s primary source for finding pets to sell. These mills are notorious for being abusive by raising animals in inhumane conditions.

Vice President of New Nodaway Humane Society’s Board of Directors Crystal Ward is vehemently against purchasing animals from stores for this very reason.

“According to the Humane Society of the United States, 99 percent of the puppies in pet stores are from a puppy mill,” Ward said. “Puppy mills are large-scale commercial breeding facilities. These facilities are often overcrowded and unsanitary with dogs being housed in small wire crates. Year after year, many Midwest states, including Missouri, appear on the ‘worst puppy mills’ lists.”

Getting a pet from a breeder is another option, and while they do not necessarily participate in inhumane practices, purchasing a pet from a breeder potentially takes away the opportunity for a pet who has been abused or neglected to get adopted.

Even worse, humane shelters are finding themselves with no other option than to euthanize animals when overpopulation in the shelters becomes an issue.

New Nodaway Humane Society Shelter Manager and Director Wendy Combs has had experience both adopting and purchasing pets in the past.

The NNHS is a no-kill shelter, a fact Combs is very proud of. She says rescuing animals is always a main goal pet owners and aspiring pet owners should strive for.

“There are many benefits to rescuing from a humane society or animal shelter,” Combs said. “I believe either way you are giving them a home, but when coming from a shelter they are animals needing a second chance. These are animals that have possibly been abused, neglected or dumped on a dirt road.”

Both shelters and rescues are, in Combs’ opinion, the most beneficial way to become a pet owner. Not only can owners potentially rescue an animal from a situation potentially harmful to its health, but adoption fees are typically lower than the typical price breeders advertise.

Combs sees the discrepancies others have when it comes to adopting a pet. She says no matter where you get your pet, patience is mandatory.

“Sometimes animals from a shelter need more tender, love and care (TLC) or time because they could have been neglected or animal aggressive,” Combs said. “Sometimes we do not know their background when they come in as a stray. People have to be very patient. Some breeders do it for the wrong reasons, not just to get animals homes; they do it for money. Shelters and rescues do it for the animals.”

Pets are not people, but many believe they might as well be. So many believe animals have a personality as unique as any person.

The NNHS is a long-term subscriber to these beliefs and has them hardwired into the adoption process.

Rick Gonzalez, a member of the NNHS’s board of directors and volunteer for three years, shares a connection with the animals at the shelter. Making sure they are happy and healthy is his first priority.

“When purchasing a pet, many owners are looking for how a pet can meet their needs,” Gonzalez said. “When adopting a pet from a shelter, the staff spends time with the potential adopter and makes sure that the pet and potential adopter are a good fit. During the adoption process, the pet plays a role in selecting the owner.”

These are strict and necessary guidelines the shelter follows and everything accomplished is done with the animals in mind.

Upon entering the animal shelter, guests are required to sign in and then sign out when they leave. Dogs and cats have their information, names and personality traits listed on each individual door in order to give potential owners a chance to meet their new friends before they are taken out of their rooms.

Gonzalez reiterated the importance of caring for the animals. The love goes both ways for pets and their owners. Gonzalez is only making sure the owner is not being selfish by only considering their needs.

“By purchasing, you are looking for what you want for your needs,” Gonzalez said. “The adoption process is not motivated by making a profit. The motivation is to adopt out animals that are in good health, spayed and neutered and vaccinated. Animal shelters conduct background checks on potential adopters to make sure they will take care of the animals, too.”

Mary Gaye Walkup, retired teacher who now works part-time at the Holiday Inn, has been actively involved with helping the NNHS for several years. Walkup notes she and her family only ever took in strays and adopted their pets.

Walkup recently adopted a dog that she named Sammy.

Her experiences epitomize Gonzalez’s feelings when it comes to adopting.

“As I said before, I will always adopt. I am 65, so do not know that I will ever have another dog; we will see about that,” Walkup said. “I needed a dog and am glad Sammy needed me. It makes you feel so good to give a dog another chance at a good life.”

Adopting keeps animals away from harm, and if done in great enough numbers, could influence how stores acquire their animals through supply and demand.

At the end of the day, shelters are only trying to help both parties. Adopting a pet could and has ended up with many practically adopting a new family member.

“I am enjoying researching the breed; they usually bond with one person, and I am lucky that Sammy seems to have bonded with me,” Walkup said.

Walkup, like many others, chose to adopt. Buying from a breeder or store runs the risk of taking a home away from a pet truly in need of being rescued.

Adopting, on the other hand, helps everyone win. Animals in shelter are in need of good homes and they are just as good as animals in a pet store.

Adopt, do not shop.

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