Why adopt and not shop?

JACKSON, WY — Hello October. The month of pumpkin flavored everything, creative costumes, and too many fun-sized candy bars. October is also National Adopt a Shelter Pet Month and what better time than meow to talk about our local shelter pets.

Why adopt and not shop?

Nationally, animal shelter intake numbers are declining. In 2011, approximately 7.2 million pets entered shelters in the United States. In 2017, this number decreased to 6.5 million. While it is important to celebrate small victories, 6.5 million translates to more than 17,000 pets entering shelters every day. Of the pets entering shelters in 2017, 1.5 million were euthanized. That means more than 4,000 adoptable pets were killed every day in our country last year. These 1.5 million euthanized pets include many purebred dogs like Dachshunds, Labrador Retrievers, and German Shepherds.

Longest AAC Kitty City resident, Harper. Her mantra is save the drama for your mama!

With the increased efforts in spay/neuter education and resources nationwide one might ask, “Why are we killing so many adoptable pets in shelters each year?” The answer is simple: there are still too many pets being born each year. Humans are breeding pets EVERYWHERE. Craigslist, Misty’s List, the local newspaper constantly have puppies for sale. Each puppy sold is a dog not adopted from a shelter, but is a dog that could wind up in one.

Sadie Mae, photo by Lens and Leash with Jay-Nel Mcintosh
Sadie is the longest running dog resident who is adoptable at the Jackson/Teton County Animal Shelter

Locally the Jackson/Teton County Animal Shelter intake numbers have decreased, but Lucky’s Place of Star Valley is still constantly full and the Teton Valley Community Animal Shelter’s numbers are holding steady. The Animal Adoption Center’s numbers are fairly predictable as they rescue pets out of shelters where they are at risk of being euthanized. Two major cities outside of Jackson: Rock Springs, WY and Idaho Falls, Idaho both have municipally managed shelters which regularly euthanize pets due to overcrowding. Last year 41% of the cats at the Idaho Falls Animal Shelter and 14% of the cats at the Rock Springs Animal Shelter were euthanized. The silver lining to these percentages is that these numbers have decreased over the last 3 years, because of rescue organizations like the Animal Adoption Center and statewide spay/neuter initiatives.

PAWS will always be an advocate for making adoption the first option. So, if you’re looking to add a pet to your home check out Petfinder.com, a search engine for adoptable pets. It’s a great resource any time you’re considering a new pet. Currently, within 100 miles of Jackson, there are 115 adoptable dogs and 224 adoptable cats. If you have a specific breed in mind, you can search Petfinder by breed. There are hundreds of rescues in the U.S. dedicated to specific breeds who can be found on Petfinder or a simple google search. Additionally, you can call your local shelter to let them know what you are looking for. Shelters have “in the market” books and will alert you when they have what you’re looking or if they know where an adoptable might be that fits your desires. With a little extra effort and patience, a rescue that fits your needs can be found.

Middle aged male dapper pointer mix and longest running dog resident of the Teton Valley Community Animal Shelter
Photo by Lens and Leash and Jayme Chrisman

If you still want to buy a puppy from a breeder please do your homework. Ask questions about their process: Are they breeding strictly for money? Have the parents been genetically tested? What is the plan if the puppy doesn’t work out as a forever pet for you? If the seller doesn’t have an application process for buying their puppies, that should be a red flag to you. A lot of people who are cruel and/or neglectful to their pets obtain them from these types of sellers. Also, any breeder who is willing to ship a dog to you without meeting you face-to-face should be carefully screened. If the breeder doesn’t want you coming to their facility, chances are they have something to hide.

When you make the decision to add a furry family member to your brood, remember a pet is a lifelong responsibility. You wouldn’t abandon your child because they’re having a hard time with potty-training nor would you forget about your Grandma because she isn’t able to bake cookies anymore. All pets, purchased and adopted, deserve a loving home for their entire lives.

*National Statistics used in this article from the ASPCA. Local statistics provided by the animal shelters mentioned above.*

Community Partner:

PAWS of Jackson Hole

PAWS of Jackson Hole’s mission is to serve as a community resource to prevent pet homelessness, to protect pets from harm and suffering, and to promote responsible ownership

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