When faced with choosing a pet, consider adopting

When people think of getting a pet, they often think about buying a dog or cat from a breeder or a pet store. Fewer people consider adopting from a shelter, often because they want a puppy or kitten, not an older animal. Since shelters don’t have many young ones, people choose to buy their pets elsewhere.

Shelter dogs and cats deserve just as much love as those bought from a breeder, and probably deserve more. Shelter animals have usually had some pretty hard lives, whether they’ve been living on the streets, been chained up in a yard or beaten by their owners.

I adopted a dog about a year ago from a woman who fosters abandoned animals. My dog, Rambo, is one of the most intelligent dogs I’ve ever owned. He picks up on commands quickly, is well-behaved and gets along with other animals and people. Having this good experience has definitely encouraged me to adopt again.

A lot of people won’t consider adopting shelter animals because they are often mixed breeds and people think they will be aggressive or unintelligent. I have found that to be the case with the majority of shelter animals. People just don’t understand the extra love and care that these animals need.

It makes me sad to think that many people won’t adopt from a shelter because they just want a puppy or kitten and don’t usually find that at a shelter. I understand that people want to raise an animal from the time they are young, but shelter animals need to be nurtured and loved. Adopting a shelter animal can still allow you to somewhat raise it because you are giving the animal a new lease on life and giving them a second chance.

Many animals have to get used to a new home and learn to be well-behaved. You still have the opportunity to train an animal, just not one that is so young. People should be more willing to jump at the opportunity to save a dog or cat from a shelter, especially if the shelter puts animals down. In my opinion, people should want to give these neglected and abused animals hope that life can be happy and carefree.

It really saddens me that so many homeless animals go unloved and unadopted each year, and some live their entire lives in a shelter and never receive the love they deserve. The next time you’re considering getting a pet, go to your local animal shelter. Look at the animals, play with them, love them and consider giving them a forever home where they will be cherished and loved. It means more to them than you could ever know.

Heather Trotter is a junior journalism major from Franklin, Tenn. She is a reporter for the Lariat.