Adopting a furry friend – tips and tricks

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Published in the February 22, 2017 issue of The Bells

One main question someone asks themselves when looking for a pet is: should I adopt from a shelter or buy from a breeder? There are pros and cons to both sides, but I believe that adopting from the shelter is the best way to go once you are prepared and ready to dedicate your time and love to a new friend.
Please stay away from pet stores and online services, since most receive their animals from mills, specifically puppy mills. For more information on puppy mills visit: https://positively.com/animal-advocacy/puppy-mills.

Buying a puppy or kitten from a breeder can be difficult, but can also be beneficial if you really want to know everything about your new friend.
Some benefits to buying your new furry friend this way is that you will be able to see your pet’s mother and the environment they were raised in.
Reputable breeders will often provide genetic health testing to make sure your animal is not likely to carry any inherited genetic problems. Buying from a breeder can guarantee that you know exactly what you are getting in terms of breed.

However, there are challenges when it comes to buying from breeders. Purebred dogs tend to have more health problems than mixes or shelter dogs, but the same is not known for cats. And buying a pet from a breeder can be extremely expensive.
Breeders can be a good choice if you have a certain goal in mind, but if you are looking for a loving companion, I recommend adopting from a local animal shelter. When you adopt from a shelter, you are saving two lives – the life of the dog you adopt and the space that opens up for another dog in the shelter or rescue.

A benefit is that most animals will already have all of their shots, and could also have a microchip and be spayed/neutered. This will not happen if they are younger than a few weeks, but the shelter can refer you to a vet where you can have this done. Often times, vets will offer discounts on these services for shelter animals.
Shelters often have foster parents for the animal, so if you’re adopting from a rescue group, they will be able to tell you all about the dog’s personality so there are no surprises when you bring the dog home.
Because they have foster parents, many dogs are already potty-trained, which can save you a lot of time and frustration.

According to health studies, mixed breeds tend to have less inherited genetic health problems and live longer than pure bred animals. You can also ask to have a trial period with your animal to see how they fare in your home. If the animal is not the right match, some private rescue groups will take the animal back after it has been adopted.
The cost of adopting from a shelter is also much lower than the cost of purchasing a puppy from a breeder.

However, adopting from a shelter is not perfect. If you’re adopting a dog straight from a shelter, you may not know much about how they will act in your home. Although this can be avoided with trial periods that some shelters offer, it is very important to know how to pick the right shelter dog.
You may not know your shelter dog’s breed.
Also, if you own another animal, it is best to see how the previous animals and your new animal get along. Many shelters have play areas where you can bring them to interact with each other.
Adopting from either a reputable breeder or a local animal shelter is really up to you, but it is best to look at every option.

Author: Madeline Oden

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