You’ve probably heard of the phrase “adopt, don’t shop” if you love animals or pets. Maybe you saw the hashtag on an Instagram page of adorable pets or on Twitter. You’ve perhaps heard about it from the television, or even the radio. Or you’ve heard pet-owners bragging about their adopted pets to other owners at the park. But what does it really mean? Why was this phrase even created? Well, I am here to tell you more about it and to convince you why you should adopt and NOT shop. 

The phrase “adopt don’t shop” was created by a non-profit organization, Last Chance for Animals, to raise public awareness about the high rate of animal homelessness and the exploitation of animals. This was also created to encourage people to buy from shelters and rescue groups rather than from cruel animal mills and breeders. An animal mill is a commercial breeding space where dogs and cats are forced to breed constantly. Supporters around the world are aspiring to make a change for the animals by trying to stop pet stores from selling pets supplied by puppy mills.

Now that the question “what” has been answered, let’s move on to the questions why and how. 

Adopting a dog from shelters has a lot of benefits. If you adopt a dog from a shelter, you’re not just giving your newly-adopted dog a chance to live a life full of warmth and love, but you will also give another pet a chance to be taken off the street and to be rescued. More space in the shelter would also mean more pets could be rescued.  According to American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), there are 1.5 million shelter animals that are being euthanized each year due to overcrowding, sickness, and suffering. Raising awareness about rescues and considering adoption will help change the lives of millions of animals.

Most of the pets in pet stores are from animal mills. Some mills are forcing these animals to breed constantly and to live in horrible conditions without proper veterinary care. Animals are abused and often forced to live inside filthy cages, causing these animals to be more vulnerable to diseases. Purchasing from these kinds of pet stores means you’re helping fund these cruel animal mills and supporting their agenda, which is treating the animals as constant profit-makers without considering their well-being. Imagine being the money-maker of inhumane people and being forced to mate with other animals just so that other people could get their desired breed. These cruel animal mills must be stopped because this is beyond horrendous!

On the flip side, adopting is more affordable than buying from pet stores or online. The adoption costs of dogs, cats and little pets like rabbits and hamsters start from two digits and most likely won’t reach thousands whilst commercial breeders charge a whopping $500-$3500 for a single puppy. Animals from shelters are more trained and are more likely to be vaccinated already, saving you more training and vaccination expenses. Your wallet and your home will thank you. 

If you’re wondering where to adopt cute and lovable pets, my suggestion is the Oregon Humane Society (OHS). It was founded in 1868, three years after Oregon became a state, with clergyman and humanitarian Thomas Lamb Eliot as the founder. OHS also adopts more animals from its Portland shelter than any single-facility shelter in the West Coast, making it the largest Humane Society in the Northwest. Their mission is “to foster an environment of respect, responsibility and compassion for all animals through education, legislation and leadership. To care for the homeless, to defend the abused and to fight with unrelenting diligence for recognition of the integrity of all animals.” 

My sister and her husband adopted two dogs from OHS, and they were both potty trained and had no behavior issues. They each had some medical issues prior to the adoption as they were new rescuees of OHS. Their names are Imelda and Casey Jones and they’re both very healthy and happy now!

Since the start of the pandemic, people have become more interested in adopting shelter pets, according to OHS’s Community Outreach Coordinator Alex Laskowski. “There has been interest in all breeds, ages and sizes. I love to say that rescued is the best breed! OHS has a 99.5% adoption rate and that rate has kept steady throughout the pandemic,” Laskowski added. 

Loneliness is inevitable during this pandemic since we’re not able to go out and hang out with others like how we used to. If you or someone you know needs a buddy or a pal who could shine a ray of sunshine in your homes, there are always pets from shelters who are waiting for someone like you. They are also badly in need of a family that could love them just like how you are also in need of companions that can get rid of the loneliness and melancholy you feel. 

Unfortunately, there are still millions of pets that are euthanized each year and there are still many starving and helpless pets roaming the streets. Being an advocate for the “adopt don’t shop” campaign would help A LOT of needy animals and will surely cast a beam of hope on them.

The picture on the left was taken when OHS rescued Clifford von Shrimp (now Casey Jones) from the dog pound. The right picture shows the drastic improvement of Casey Jones four months after adoption. Left photo via OHS and right photo by Ayanna Villanueva.
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