Why Adopt a Shelter Dog?

Shelter Dog

You’ve done it; you’ve made the decision to add that four-legged furry friend to your household. After extensive name brainstorming and dropping those unused coins in the jar on your kitchen counter, the next step is to actually start searching for your new fur-baby.

While it is incredibly tempting to buy a dog or puppy from a breeder, checking out the local shelter first can be an extremely rewarding experience. Not only are you taking in a pup who truly needs a home, but you are also saving a life. “Around 2.7 million adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized each year in the United States because too many people give up their pets, and too few adopt from shelters.”  While there are many reputable “no-kill” shelters, other’s are overpopulated and unfortunately must make the tough decision on whether or not to put down an animal.

Shelter dogs are just looking to you for another chance to find their forever home!

So, why are there so many dogs in my local shelter?

Meet Popcorn, the cutest gal of the Charlottesville Albemarle SPCA


When you think of an animal shelter, what do you think of? Do you think about hoards of misbehaved hounds who couldn’t be handled by a family? Or perhaps you envision aggressive breeds that are a menace to the community. In reality, most shelter dogs were once loving, affectionate, and well behaved family pets that fell victim to one of many “people problems.” When I say people problems, I am referring to a number of different circumstances that we as humans and as pet owners are responsible for, such as training, health, and planning. As a pet owner, you are responsible for the wellbeing of your new friend, and that takes time and energy. Many times people will buy a new puppy for their child for Christmas, but the kid loses interest in it by the next week. The family brings the pup to the shelter. In another example, an owner doesn’t take the time to properly house train a dog, so he has accidents on the carpet a few times a week. The owner takes that dog to the shelter. In a very common circumstance, an elderly owner has a forever companion to sit with every day, but one day, the dog is left sitting alone in an empty house. The owner’s relatives may not have the resources or desire to care for that dog, so they take him to a shelter.

All of these instances make up the core reason that shelter’s are so over-populated.  Pet owners do not take the necessary steps to train or care for their dogs, so they take the easy way out and give up their friend, the dog who depends on them, to a shelter. While this step is better than the alternative, abandonment, we cannot blame the over-crowding of shelters on anyone but ourselves.

Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Adopt:


  1. You can save 2 lives
    • By adopting from a shelter, you’re saving the life of a dog that may have otherwise been euthanized due to overcrowding and lack of shelter resources. Also, you are freeing up space so that another homeless dog can be taken-in and cared for.
  2. Adopting will save you money
    • Most shelters will send you home with a healthy and happy companion! This includes recent vet examinations, vaccinations, spay/neuter operations, and micro chipping. Aside from these health costs, most shelter’s adoption fees are chump-change compared to breeder fees! Many shelters also offer adoption promotions during the holidays, making the fee a real bargain!
  3. Some dogs will already be trained
    • Many dogs are given up for adoption for reasons beyond their control, such as the death of an owner or a child’s allergy. Since they were once family pets, they already know their basic commands! Living in a shelter might not make for the best learning environment, but once you remind your pooch about proper manners, you’ll have a well-behaved and trained companion.
  4. You can find a dog that fits your personality
    • Many shelters give each incoming dog a behavioral evaluation so they know who to best pair him with! When you come to the shelter, you’ll be able to tell if the dog you’re interested in is shy, quiet, lively, or energetic! You’ll also be able to get a sense of the dog’s personality, their likes and dislikes, before you take them home! Through this evaluation, the shelter makes sure that you have all the information necessary to be able to pick your perfect friend.
  5. If you adopt, you won’t be supporting puppy mills or pet stores
    • Puppy Mills are “factory style” breeding facilities that disregard the welfare of the dog. Most dogs and pups housed in puppy mills are put in extremely poor conditions, including being kept in small cages, improper medical care, and little human contact. In many circumstances, once the adult dogs are “used up” for their procreation purposes, they are just discarded, either by being abandoned or killed. Puppy Mills often are the provider of pups to pet stores, Internet ads, or even newspaper ads. By purchasing one of these dogs, you are supporting an operation that promotes cruelty to animals.

The Charlottesville Albemarle SPCA


Next week, I’ll be heading into the Charlottesville Albemarle SPCA (CASPCA) to start my volunteer work being a dog walker! I’ll also spend some time interviewing the staff, learning more about the way that shelter’s operate and serve their community. I’ll also have my camera in hand to take some cute shots of some of their furry residents! Stay tuned for more info about your very own dogs of Charlottesville and how you can get involved in a shelter dog’s life!

Key Resources to Peruse

The Human Society of the United States




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