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The Adoption Option


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When was the last time you had the opportunity to significantly change or even save a life? If you answered “never,” but had the chance to, would you take the opportunity? There are thousands of lives out there that are in need of saving every day; some of those lives are as close as in your own town or neighborhood. If lucky, these poor souls may eventually end up finding homes; however, many end up confined to shelters or hospitals, while the rest remain homeless, hungry, and alone. These desperate and desolate individuals are none other than our animal companions.

Ironically, while the plight of homelessness and abandonment continues around us, animals, particularly dogs, are being brought into this world solely to be sold to people such as your neighbors and friends. The desire for purebred or pedigree pets means that many animals exist solely to breed even more of their kind. I firmly believe that people should adopt homeless or sheltered pets rather than continue to support the practice of breeding and selling animals.

To begin, I would like to be clear on the fact that not all breeders neglect the needs of their animals. This is good to know because, according to American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA.org), 26% of dogs in American households were purchased from breeders. Along with that fact, Americanhumane.org recognizes that there are responsible breeders who breed one litter at a time, as opposed to operating “puppy mills” solely to rake in larger profits. Reliable breeders physically care for their animals and make an effort to ensure they are sold to “good homes.” A responsible breeder will first screen and possibly meet potential buyers prior to selling their animals. Americanhumane.org further states that reputable breeders provide adequate veterinary care for their animals. While it is assuring to know that these accountable breeders are supplying basic physical care, what about the emotional needs and well being of these animals that are bred and then sold like commodities?

A startling truth is that most stray and shelter animals were once someone’s “beloved” pet that either became lost or was abandoned by their owner. ASPCA.org supports that fact by saying that many stray animals are pets that became lost because they either were not securely kept indoors or did not have proper ID. That same website also states that over 20% of the people who surrender their dogs to shelters, originally adopted them from shelters; how ironic is that? Even more disturbing is the ASPCA.org statistic that, although many people spend a lot of money to buy pedigree animals from breeders, 25% of dogs that end up in shelters are purebred to begin with.

Nationally, around 5 to 7 million companion animals are brought into shelters each year, many grieving the painful and bewildering loss of their home, family and life as they knew it. Of these shelter intakes, between 3 and 4 million are euthanized due to overcrowding and the inability to find permanent or “forever” homes. Tragically, there are almost as many animals surrendered by their owners as there are ones brought in by animal control. Adding to the overpopulation problem is the reality that only 10% of animals received by shelters were spayed or neutered prior to arrival. As a result, and not counting dogs, there are a staggering 70 million stray cats roaming throughout the United States in need of shelter, love and care. PETA.org emphasizes the sadness of the animal overpopulation crisis by stating that, for every time a puppy or kitten is purchased, a sheltered or stray animal loses a chance at life. Yet, the practice and business of animal breeding continues.

One does not have to look far to see the magnitude of the pet overpopulation crisis. Just a few miles away, the Humane Society of Harrisburg Area (HSHA) serves our local and surrounding communities, areas that produce a large amount of unwanted pets. For example, HSHA currently houses a significant number of pit bull terriers, a loveable yet misunderstood breed of dog. Due to discriminating legislation and the countrywide stigma against their breed, high numbers of pit bull terriers are regularly surrendered to HSHA, further increasing their already overpopulated shelter. Many of these dogs were originally purchased from breeders, and are now sitting in cages, much like their shelter mates, waiting and hoping for someone to give them a loving home.

Last fall, my family and I welcomed a new member to our household when we adopted our cat, Ted, from the HSHA shelter. Ted came into the shelter as a local stray; however, the fact that he was already neutered and declawed upon arrival leads us to believe he was once someone’s pet. Too often, shelter animals like Ted once belonged to a family, but then, through no fault of their own, ended up on the streets. It is hard for many of us to imagine how baffling, frightening and heartbreaking it would be to suddenly lose the love and security of our home and family, especially if not equipped to survive outdoors and on our own. Thankfully, Ted is one of the lucky shelter pets who got his fairytale, happily-ever-after ending by getting a second chance at a good home.

What I want from people everywhere is to help diminish the population of homeless animals. To accomplish this is to refrain from purchasing pets from breeders, and instead take in strays or adopt those in shelters. Here’s your opportunity to be a hero in your local community and feel good at the same time. According to HSHA, nearby Lancaster, Pennsylvania has become known as the “U.S. Eastern Capital of Puppy Mills,” a title that our state and surrounding community should not take pride in. Instead, we should do everything we can to squash this title, and replace it with something we can be proud of, such as the “U.S. Eastern Capital of Homeless Animal Rescuers.”
If people were willing to adopt pets, as opposed to supporting breeders, more overlooked animals would get a chance at a better life. There would be less of an animal overpopulation, because the act of breeding would eventually become less lucrative and appealing as a business. You might think you cannot help because there are too many lives that need saving, but believe me you can. Be one of those people to step up, take initiative, and help end the needless suffering of our animal friends; it will literally give you a warm and fuzzy feeling, both on the inside and the outside.


Annotated Bibliography

"American Humane Association | Home." American Humane Association | Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Feb. 2013. <http://www.americanhumane.org/>.

This website helped in my research by giving me the point of view as to why people should adopt animals from shelters instead of buying purebred animals from breeders. The point of view from the article was that, although it is very nice to buy newborn animals; most animals in shelters were products of neglect and abuse from their owners. The article encourages people to adopt shelter animals in order to give them a second chance at life and give them a nice home.

"Animal Rights Uncompromised: There's No Such Thing as a 'Responsible Breeder' | PETA.org." People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA): The animal rights organization | PETA.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Mar. 2013. <http://www.peta.org/about/why-peta/responsible-breeders.aspx>.

This article was helpful to me because the article completely supported my argument that people should adopt pets from shelters instead of buying them from breeders. Plus the article went more into depth about irresponsible breeders as well.

"Home Page." Humanesocietyhbg. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Mar. 2013. <http://www.humanesocietyhbg.org/>.

This article was really helpful to me because it gave me the points of view of a local agency. I've adopted a cat from this shelter, so it was nice to see what they thought about adopting pets from shelters instead of buying them from breeders. The website also gave me some local pet statistics as well.

"Pet Statistics." ASPCA. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Feb. 2013. <http://www.aspca.org/about-us/faq/pet-statistics.aspx>.

This website was helpful in my research because it gave me up-to-date statistics about animal shelters. More specifically, the article gave me (estimated) statistics of how many animals in shelters are purebred. That helped my research by showing how people could, and therefore should, adopt purebred animals from shelters, instead of buying newborn ones from breeders.

"Top Five Reasons to Adopt : The Humane Society of the United States." RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Feb. 2013. <http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/adopt/tips/top_reasons_adopt.html>.

This website was helpful simply because it gave top five reasons to adopt animals. It was not the top five reasons to adopt animals as opposed to buying them from breeders specifically, but it was top five reasons to adopt them as opposed to buying them nonetheless. Some of the website article's reasons for adopting animals were a little opinionated; for instances, the article said that the person would feel better because of adopting animals as opposed to buying them. Although, every other reason the article gives are statistics and logical reasons. Plus the organization has a good reputation around the United States.



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