For those of us who are still students living on campus, a pet of our own isn’t something we can have in the near future, no matter how much we may want one. But for recent graduates or students living in off-campus housing that allows pets, it may be something they’re seriously considering. Sure, those purebred golden retriever and husky puppies are adorable, but there are already thousands of dogs and cats in shelters — why not adopt one of them?
Out of the 7.6 million animals in shelters every year, only 2.7 million are adopted. The rest either stay in the shelters until they are adopted or they are eventually euthanized.
There are several reasons to adopt a pet from a shelter instead of shopping around at private breeders. If you buy a pet from a pet store, you’re likely getting a puppy from a puppy mill — a breeding facility with horrible conditions and often very sickly dogs. They prioritize profit over the health of the animals, and are often cruel and inhumane. Many times, pet owners don’t even know that they’ve bought animals from a puppy mill, but they inadvertently support these breeders and keep them in business.
By adopting from a shelter, you also help two animals in need: the one you are adopting, and another homeless animal that will fill the empty space in the shelter. This gives another animal a better chance of finding a good forever home, and saves another animal from being euthanized because of overcrowding.
On top of that, the animal you’re adopting isn’t a surprise. With a little puppy, you never quite know what you’re going to get. Many shelters put personality profiles with their adoptable animals so that you can adopt a pet that fits your personality, energy level and effort. Shelter pets may also be potty-trained and thus easier for a busy student to take care of, not to mention that they often have less energy than a very young puppy.
Possibly the biggest reason that students should adopt from shelters is cost. Obviously, we’re broke college students living on instant ramen, sometimes unable to afford anything without our parents’ help. Adopting a pet from a shelter is significantly cheaper than buying from a private seller; shelter costs range from $50 to $200, while buying a pet can be upward of $1,000. And the adoption costs are not the only things that are cheaper. When you adopt from a shelter, the pets are often already spayed or neutered, vaccinated and microchipped. Procedures that you would have to pay for at a vet’s office are already completed, and you don’t have to worry about them as you would if you were buying from a breeder.
With all of the homeless animals in America looking for a family, it makes financial and ethical sense for students — and everyone else, really — to look into adopting shelter pets instead of purchasing puppies from a private breeder, store or puppy mill. There are plenty of adorable, adoptable animals living in shelters that will be perfect pets with a little bit of love and affection. Adopt, don’t shop.
Emily Jankowski is a freshman majoring in nursing.