All the Heartwarming Reasons Why You Should Definitely Adopt a Shelter Pet

You’ve heard it before, but we’ll say it again — adopt, don’t shop!

If you’ve been thinking about getting a pet as part of your family, you might be busy researching breeds and trying to figure out the one that will work best for your lifestyle. But before you head to the pet store, consider this: Right now, millions of cats and dogs are waiting to be adopted from shelters.

It’s obvious that adopting a pet from a shelter provides a huge benefit to that animal. But did you know that it can also offer some perks for you, too? It turns out pet adoptions are just as good for humans as they are for animals.

But choosing the right pet is a huge commitment. So before you decide, read on to see how opting for a shelter pet could be the best decision you’ll ever make.

1. You’ll be saving a life

dog rests gently on his master's shoulder
You could save a dog’s life. |

Many shelters euthanize animals to compensate for overcrowded facilities that don’t have enough resources. According to the Humane Society, 2.7 million adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized just because there’s not enough room for them.

Be part of the solution by visiting your local shelter and adopting instead of purchasing your pet from the store. Your selfless decision helps in two ways: It gives a pet in need a home, and it frees up valuable space in the shelter so another animal in need can have a spot.

2. It costs less

dog with piggy bank
Adoption is cheaper than going to the pet store.  | Damedeeso/Getty Images

Puppies aren’t cheap. Purebreds? Forget it! Buying a pet typically costs between $500-$1,000, depending on what breed you choose.

While most shelters do request an adoption fee, it’s almost always way less than you’d pay retail for a new dog. Plus, it often includes other expenses you may not even be thinking about, like spaying or neutering, microchipping, and vaccinations.

3. It’s an easy way to fight back against puppy mills

Many cute puppies locked in the cage
Boycott puppy mills. | Samohin/Getty Images

The dogs you see advertised online and in pet stores are usually products of puppy mills. These factory-style breeding facilities are often dirty and poorly maintained, with disease running rampant and owners who care more about turning profits than about the animals’ welfare. Sadly, there are an estimated 10,000 puppy mills currently operating in the United States.

By refusing to patronize these shady establishments, you’re doing your part to shut them down. Adopting is a low-effort way to protest against puppy mills, and it could help to eventually shut them down for good.

4. People will respect you

Young girl with dog in the park
You can brag about adopting rather than shopping. | Mbot/Getty Images

Adopting a pet isn’t always easy — it could take a little more effort to make your new family member feel safe, loved, and protected. But that effort doesn’t come without reward. Most people understand the inherent value to adoption, and they are sure to respect the choice you made to adopt. It’s totally brag-worthy.

5. Your new pet will truly appreciate you

owner caressing gently her dog
You can expect a whole lot of gratitude. |

Animals aren’t stupid. When you adopt an animal from a shelter, you are rescuing them from a less-than-ideal situation and giving them a loving home and family. Even if your new pet doesn’t show it right away, eventually his appreciation for you will be enough to make the effort well worthwhile.

6. You can choose your pet’s age

golden retriever and a chocolate Labrador pup
There are pets of all ages available at shelters. | Eriklam/Getty Images

Puppies are cute, but they’re a lot of work. Training a puppy requires a lot of time, money, and attention, which not everyone has to devote to a new pet.

Shelters have dogs of all ages, from very young pups to middle aged and elderly dogs. A dog that is a few years old will most likely already know basic commands and will also be housebroken already. Older dogs make fantastic companions for the elderly because they don’t have the relentless energy of young pups.

7. Your home will be filled with love

Having a quick nap together
All the love in the world. | WhitneySharp/Getty Images

Any pet will be happy to see you after a long day, but a shelter pet will be especially grateful. All of that unconditional love helps to boost your endorphins — those feel-good hormones that lead to tons of positive benefits like reduced stress levels and blood pressure.

8. You’ll get a great pet

yellow dog sitting on black sofa
A good dog is waiting for you. |

While some animals are in shelters due to abuse and neglect, many are simply family pets who got left behind when their families moved away, got divorced, or had children. These animals are often housebroken and well-socialized, meaning they’ll fit right into your family with very little adjustment. Plus, you don’t have to spend all that time and money on training them!

9. Mutts have fewer health problems

super strong dog lifting bing blue dumbbell bar
Contrary to popular belief, shelter dogs are very healthy. | Damedeeso/Getty Images

Purebred dogs suffer from excessive health problems, which is heartbreaking to witness and expensive for you, thanks to increased vet visits and medications. Most of the dogs and cats in shelters are mixed breeds, which makes them generally heartier and healthier.

10. You can find the perfect fit

woman loves her dog
The right pup is waiting for you at a shelter. | Manuel-F-O/Getty Images

Pet store employees don’t typically get to know the animals on a deeper level like shelter workers do. When you visit the shelter, be honest about what you’re looking for and don’t be surprised when one of the employees or volunteers finds the perfect match for you just based on a few simple requests. Some facilities even have formal adoption counseling to help with the process. Spend some time hanging out with the animals while you’re there — you might be surprised at the one who’s destined to join your family!

11. Shelter pets are usually healthier

Happy vet with dog and cat, focus intentionally left on smile of veterinary.
Vets take care of shelter pets. |

Any animal entering a shelter must undergo a physical before admission The shelter has veterinary professionals on staff to deal with any medical issues before the pet is ready for adoption.

Breeders don’t usually offer the same kind of rigorous standards. Thanks to the rampant spread of diseases like parasites and pneumonia in puppy mills, you could purchase a sick pet from a breeder and not even know it.

12. You’ll get the pet you’re meant to have

Young woman hugging and kissing German Shepherd
You’ll find your perfect match. | ChristinLola/Getty Images

When you shop for a specific breed, that’s usually the one you end up bringing home. The fact that you need to be less picky at a shelter can actually be to your benefit.

Some animals look good on paper, but once they come home to live with you, it’s a whole different story. Adopting a shelter pet means you’ll need to focus on more specific personality traits rather than overarching breed attributes. Every dog and cat is different — and the right one for you might not be what you expected.

13. It’ll teach your kids compassion

Child is kissing a cat
Kids learn by watching you. | Ehaurylik/Getty Images

As parents, it’s important to lead by example. When you adopt a pet, you’re sending a powerful message to your kids that it’s always better to help those in need. There’s no better way to demonstrate selflessness than by giving a home to a shelter pet.

14. Shelters offer tons of support

Woman and her dog at her home office hugging
Shelters offer free resources. | Anchiy/Getty Images

Your local shelter most likely has a plethora of (free!) resources to support you and your new pet. From training tips to materials about feeding, behavior issues, nutrition, grooming, and basic care, shelters work hard to provide you with all the resources you need to make life with your new family member a breeze.

15. You could find a purebred

cute pet lying on the floor
Purebreds get stuck in shelters, too. |

Even if your heart is set on a purebred, you can still adopt! While many mixed breed dogs wind up in shelters, sometime purebreds find their way in as well. One estimate found that 25-30% of all dogs in shelters are purebred, meaning you don’t need to visit an expensive breeder or pet store to get one.