May 20 is National Rescue Dog Day, a day set aside to bring awareness to the countless loving and amazing dogs in shelters who are eagerly awaiting the day they’ll be adopted into their "furever" homes. National Rescue Dog Day was founded by Lisa Wiehebrink, who rescued her dog Cooper in 2009 and went on to create the Tails That Teach book series, which teaches children how to be kind and gentle with their pets.
As veterinarians, we understand that rescue dogs have often overcome some sort of obstacle – whether physical, behavioral, or emotional from being surrendered. But we also know they are among the greatest pets, providing endless comfort, love, and friendship to families. The following are our top reasons to rescue a dog instead of seeking a breeder for a new addition to your family.
1. You’ll Save a Life
Sadly, each year more than 1 million adoptable pets are euthanized in the U.S. as a result of overcrowding in shelters and not enough families adopting. By choosing to adopt from a shelter instead of buying a puppy from a breeder or store, you’ll be saving a precious life.
2. You’ll Bring Home One Happy Dog
Dogs that have been living in shelters are elated to find their forever home, which means you’ll be bringing home a dog who is happy, eager to please, and ready to give lots of love. It’s important to remember that many dogs end up in shelters as the result of a move, deployment, or divorce—not for anything they did wrong, which is a common misconception. Most are already well acclimated to life with a family and ready to love again.
3. You Won’t Be Supporting a Puppy Mill
Puppy mills are factory-style dog breeding facilities that prioritize profit over the well-being of dogs. Puppies from these poorly maintained environments often exhibit both medical and behavioral issues, with the mothers being kept in cages for the sole purpose of breeding over and over again. Most often, puppy mills use deceptive business practices to hide the fact that they are a puppy mill, with unsuspecting families purchasing their puppies from pet stores or online retailers. By adopting from a shelter, you aren’t supporting puppy mills and can rest assured you know exactly where your new dog came from.
4. You’re Helping More Than Just the Dog You’re Adopting
As mentioned in No. 1, you’re likely saving a dog’s life by adopting. However, considering how overburdened shelters are today from taking in millions of strays, abused and lost animals, you’re also making room for another dog with your adoption. Plus, the nominal cost of your adoption will be put to good use, with adoption funds put towards shelter-operating expenses and the needs of the dogs.
5. You’ll Save Some Money
When you adopt a puppy from a breeder, it comes with a lot of expenses in addition to the hefty purchase fee, which exceeds $1,000 for many breeds. You’ll be paying for vaccinations, spaying or neutering, microchipping, and more. When you adopt from a shelter, all of those early expenses are already taken care of, and the adoption fee is far less than purchasing. Shelter dogs have already been examined and deemed healthy by the shelter veterinarian. Pure-bred puppies often don’t come with this guarantee and, if purchased from an unreliable source, these puppies may be sick at the time of purchase or not well cared for by the breeder.
6. Most Are Already Trained
A puppy comes with the tireless process of training – not only teaching them where it’s appropriate to eliminate but also basic commands such as sit and stay. A rescue dog that is a bit older likely has spent time in a home and as part of a family, and is very likely already house-trained and understands basic commands.
7. Your Home Will Thank You
Bringing a new puppy home means not only house training and the battle to keep your carpets and floors clean, but also the constant struggle to keep your shoes, socks, and furniture from being chewed. The teething stage, where a puppy will attempt to chew anything in sight including the legs of your dining room chairs, is avoided with an older rescue dog.
Honor National Rescue Dog Day by visiting your local shelter, and perhaps you’ll fall in love with a dog in need of its forever home. They’ll certainly thank you by being the most loyal, loving, and grateful pet you’ve ever owned. Learn more about National Rescue Dog Day at https://www.nationalrescuedogday.com. The AAHA also has a great resource for adopting homeless pets. If you’ve just rescued a dog, it’s time to ensure you’re getting that pet on the path to optimal wellness with a visit to the veterinarian—give us a call! Even though they’ve likely received their spay and neuter and vaccinations at the shelter, we’d like to ensure their good health and get them on parasite preventives and other things to keep them as healthy as possible.