Stand up to puppy mills by adopting your pets

Adopting animals from shelters can improve your life and theirs, while challenging unethical breeding practices.

About four years ago, my family adopted our first dog, a lab mix named Jojo. We rescued him from a horse farm in Virginia and were told by the farm owner that he arrived there cold, lonely and hungry.

Two years later, we adopted another dog, a blue English Coonhound named Lulu from South Carolina. She was next in line to be euthanized at a shelter.

Rescuing our dogs has significantly impacted our lives. They’ve become an integral part of our family, and I couldn’t imagine life without them.

Adopting pets is a rewarding experience that the animals and the people who adopt them. People should adopt pets to save animals in need and stand up to the puppy mill industry, which is made up of mass-breeding facilities that do not offer the appropriate care for animals.

Kristen Szwast, the lifesaving manager of the Pennsylvania Society for the Precaution of Cruelty to Animals, said Lancaster is the puppy mill capital of the world.

“These animals pretty much live their whole lives in crates and poor conditions,” Szwast said.

According to PETA, when people “shop” for animals, meaning they buy them from pet stores, the animals typically come from puppy mills. But those from adoption centers are typically unwanted pets or strays — rescued from unstable living conditions.

Each year, 3.5 million animals are euthanized at animal shelters because they can’t find homes. When people adopt animals from shelters, they both prevent them from being euthanized, and they refuse to contribute to puppy mills and the unethical breeding of animals.

Shelters provide animals with better conditions than pet stores and puppy mills. According to the ASPCA, puppy mills keep pets in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions and do not provide appropriate veterinary care, food, water or socialization for animals.

Additionally, animals in shelters are more likely to be healthy and up to date on their vaccinations. Many shelters participate in Shelter Medicine, a field of veterinary medicine that provides care specifically to shelter animals. Oftentimes, this means a veterinarian is on site at a shelter.

By rescuing a pet from a shelter, you’re saving the animal’s life and welcoming them into a loving home.


“The animals here are very loyal, and just a chance for them to go into a forever home makes them feel really happy,” said Steven Conway, the humane educator at the Montgomery County SPCA. “They’re so loyal and so loving to their new owners.”

Through social media, many Temple students have shown their love for rescue pets. The Temple Cats Facebook group creates an online community to help North Philadelphia strays find homes.

“Any pet owner you will talk to that rescued or adopted a shelter animal, they will tell you that they have probably gotten more in return than they’ve given to the animal,” said Cathy Liu, a member of the Temple Cats Facebook group and an adjunct piano performance instructor. “And that’s certainly [the best part].”

And for students looking for a pet, there are also practical benefits to adoption. For example, adoption is usually cheaper than purchasing animals from pet stores.

“Usually adoption fees are a lot lower than pet store fees,” Conway said. “At the Montgomery County SPCA, our adoption fees are $65 for dogs and $25 for cats and at a lot of pet stores, you wouldn’t get near that price.”

“Adopt, don’t shop” is a growing trend for the mutual benefits it offers adopters and their pets. The life-saving friendships made between a pet and its owner are worthy of celebration. It’s a connection I hope others realize, so they can experience a friendship similar to the ones I’ve made with my dogs.

According to the ASPCA, nearly 3.2 million pets are adopted each year. I am in awe at how high the number is, and I hope it continues to grow — especially among college students.

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