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Should You Get That Puppy?: Taking A Hard Look At Getting A Pet

As December 25th inches closer and closer, the advertisements for puppies and kittens become increasingly pervasive. Each year around February, shelters see an overwhelming amount of surrendered animals from those who thought getting a new puppy or kitten would be a breeze. (News flash: it isn’t.) Adding a new member to your family can be fun and exciting, but I urge you — don’t give a living animal as a gift this holiday season and don’t support these stores that are supplied by animal mills. This is a matter close to my heart; I love dogs just as much as the next girl, but you have to be up for the life-long responsibility they come with. Pets are more than just a novelty, and #AdoptDon’tShop isn’t just a cute slogan. 

[bf_image id="3k9rgc4vkbwsx82x7m8f4f"] Puppy and kitten mills and breeders supply the majority of, if not all, pet stores. They repeatedly impregnate females and then take away their puppies/kittens until they are no longer of use. Over 2 million puppies are bred through puppy mills each year while an estimated 1.2 million dogs are euthanized in shelters. Hopefully, the mothers end up in shelters or with rescues, but millions are not so lucky. These puppies and kittens are kept in cramped conditions and are mostly unsocialized. And the parents? Kept in cages for nearly 24 hours a day. These mills put profit over the health and well-being of the animals they sell. The puppies and kittens then head to stores like Petland, which is now once again under the microscope for animal neglect, and are typically advertised as in perfect health, which they are often not. 

There are millions of dogs and cats in shelters, and there are even rescues that specialize in specific breeds! To spend thousands of dollars buying a dog or cat for the aesthetic alone all while supporting these animal mills is flat out wrong, especially when there are alternatives to getting a dog or cat. For example, if you’re looking for a Golden Retriever, check out Bunny’s Buddies. Love Greyhounds? Take a look at Hound Savers. Really been wanting a Corgi? Reach out to East Coast Corgi Rescue. My point here is that there is a rescue out there for almost any breed, size and age, though the companionship brought by a pet comes from more than aesthetics alone. If you’re genuinely interested in adopting an animal, I suggest going to multiple shelters and visiting with them. More often than not you’ll know in your heart when you’ve found the right match.

[bf_image id="q2whl0-5onh60-b9vfkt"] Pets are a huge commitment and you will be their entire world. Do you truly have the time to care for them? Go on walks? Commit to training and exercising them mentally as well as physically? What if they get sick? Can you be sure to save up for any potential vet bills? Vaccinations and Rabies shot requirements?  Will your landlord even allow pets? Too often have I seen my college peers purchase puppies only to leave them at shelters alone and afraid, because they couldn’t afford a vet visit or their landlord didn’t allow dogs and they tried to sneak the pet in. If you truly want to adopt a pet, please take a hard look at the facts and whether or not you are genuinely capable of taking care of their well being and happiness for the rest of their life. 

The bottom line is this: you know if you are up for the challenge of adding a pet to your life. I urge you to do your research on where these animals come from and support rescues that dedicate their lives to saving the tired, neglected, and unloved. 

If you’re unsure if you can handle all the work a pet comes with, try volunteering with a local shelter or rescue! Below are some amazing Florida-based animal rescue organizations:

Emily is studying English at the University of Central Florida. She loves to garden, make coffee, and play with her dog, Goliath. She also dabbles in copywriting and hopes to forge a career in advertising.
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