In with the old, out with the new!
Cute little paws. Tiny noses. Big puppy eyes. I know what you're thinking: you want one too, right? When most people decide it's time for them to adopt an animal, their first idea is a puppy or kitten. Yes, I’ll admit: they are so gosh darn cute! But let's be real here, they're only going to stay that small for a number of weeks! I know it seems like adopting an animal from a young age is the more rewarding choice. You get to know them from the start, watch their personalities develop and their bodies grow.
But have you considered the alternative?
According to the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), 6.5 million companion animals are placed in shelters every year. Only 710,000 of that several million are returned to their original owners. In 2015, the OSPCA (Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) found new homes and families for 4,793 cats, 1,676 dogs, and 539 small animals. But what about those furry and scaly friends who were not picked up for adoption? What happens to them?
Every year, billions of animals are placed in shelters worldwide as strays due to unfit owners or just plain neglect. As a result, many shelters and animal care organizations are forced to euthanize the animals that are not adopted. The ASPCA states that 20% of dogs and about 30% of cats meet this fate. We have the ability to change these statistics by adopting these homeless animals.
Many people will say that they want a baby animal because they will live longer than any old dog or cat sitting in a pound. Be that as it may, giving an animal a loving home and caring for them for the rest of their life will feel far more rewarding than selecting the cutest puppy or kitten and watching it grow old. You can develop just as strong relationships with older dogs and cats as you can with younger ones. You could even say older dogs from broken or abusive homes would value your love more than one that does not know the definition of abuse.
Another factor that leads people not to adopt is the fear of health issues. In reality, many of the shelters these animals are placed in nurse them into proper health before allowing them to be adopted. Many shelter animals have just as much of a chance of developing illnesses and ringing up veterinary bills as young puppies or kittens. Face the facts: owning companion animals is expensive! So please, don’t let money be the reason you steer clear of adopting from a shelter.
It's easy to think that the animals sitting in humane societies and shelters will just be adopted by someone else, but when we actually look at the facts, not nearly enough are being taken home. If you feel guilty when you watch the scene in the beloved Disney film, Lady and the Tramp (1955), where the dogs are literally crying in the pound like they are in jail, then you should consider adopting. We cannot deny that change needs to occur. It’s been over 60 years and the same types of tactics still exist.
So instead of adopting a baby animal, consider adopting one from a broken home, or one that never really got the chance at having a home in the first place. Be the person they are waiting for at the door every day. I promise that love will be unconditional.
Holly Williams is a small town girl jumping into the big city life. She recently graduated the Honours Program at Trent University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Cultural Studies and English Literature. Reading and writing have always been activities she has been passionate about, along with photography and exploring. She likes to think if a book doesn't light a spark in your soul then it wasn't a 10/10. Her happy place is sitting on the porch on a crisp fall day, spending time with people she loves, with a hot cup of tea in her hands.