October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month. Why have a special month dedicated to these dogs? Why raise awareness for shelter dogs when there are a plethora of cute puppies available for purchase at pet stores and through breeders? According to the ASPCA, 3.9 million dogs enter the cages of animal shelters each year. And each year, 1.2 million of those dogs are euthanized. Dogs can be abandoned for a variety of reasons, only a fraction of which is a result of bad behavior on the pet’s part. Other reasons a person might put a dog in a shelter include moving to a new place that doesn’t allow pets, becoming financially unable to take care of their pup, falling ill or being hospitalized long-term, or the death of the owner. Because of these reasons, animal shelters are bursting at the seams with wonderful animals anxiously waiting to be taken home and loved. So why adopt a shelter pet? Here are 8 reasons why it’s a wonderful idea!

1. It’s less expensive.

Adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue costs significantly less than buying from a breeder or pet store. We’re talking hundreds of dollars of a difference. Purchasing a dog can cost up to a couple thousand dollars, depending on the breed and location of purchase. Adopting a dog can cost a few hundred at the most, but will usually fall under $100. Sometimes, shelters have special events in which they give away dogs for free. Owning a dog can still be expensive, but at least the up-front cost will be reasonable if adopted from a shelter.

2. It saves you the hassle of training.

Imaging bringing home a dog that doesn’t come with accidents, excess noise, or bad behavior. Sounds great, right? It can happen! Dogs are often trained by the shelter where they reside. This can include going to the bathroom, sitting, staying, and refraining from barking at or jumping on strangers. This is much easier than training a puppy!

3. You’ll know what you’re getting into.

Adopting from a shelter means free advice from the shelter workers. Not only can they give advice on proper care for new owners, but they can describe individual personality traits of each dog, such as being afraid of thunderstorms or not getting along with other animals. There will be no surprises when you get your new friend home. And frequently, shelter workers are a continuing resource for you throughout the life of your pup.

4. It discourages puppy mills.

Puppy mills are horrible businesses that should not, under any circumstances or in any way, be supported. Puppies are kept in tiny cages in deplorable conditions. To maximize profit, very little care is given to these dogs. Puppy mill dogs are often infected with parasites, prone to diseases, and covered in injuries from their horrifying living conditions. They are nearly always ignored, neglected, and seen as nothing more than money-makers. Almost 100% of pet store dogs are purchased from puppy mills. Buying your dog from the pet store encourages them to continue to obtain puppies from puppy mills. Adopting dogs from a shelter avoids every facet of the puppy mill business.

5. Adopted dogs are healthier.

As mentioned above, dogs from pet stores are purchased from puppy mills and frequently have diseases or parasites disguised by big, needy eyes and soft fur. Dogs in a shelter have usually been nursed to full health, received necessary shots, and have been spayed/neutered in an effort to keep all dogs in good condition, ready to adopt.

6. It saves lives.

Yes, lives, plural! Not only are you saving the adopted dog’s life, but remember those 1.2 million dogs that get euthanized each year? There is now a little more room for them, which makes it less likely that at least one of them will have to be put down. What a wonderful incentive!

7. You’ll change a life.

You may not be able to save all the dogs in the shelter you visit, but adopting just one of them is life-changing for the both of you. Adopting a dog is giving it a second chance at life. Where it was once locked in a cell, it can now run free. Where it was once unloved and perhaps neglected, it is now the apple of someone’s eye. In return, you now have the love and affection of a delightful animal who will always be by your side.

8. Consider fostering

Let’s say you’re thinking about getting a new canine companion, but you’re just not sure yet. Many shelters have fostering programs, where one can take in a dog from the shelter temporarily and then give it back after the specified period of time. This benefits everyone: the shelter has more room for other dogs, the dog gets more love and affection than he would in a shelter setting, and you can discover if owning a dog is right for you. There’s no downside!

What other reason do you need? Adopting a dog is a marvelous idea; go out and make a difference! – Jodi Thomas

Jodi Thomas is a secretary with OhioHealth and also works part time at a women’s clothing store. She loves to volunteer and is involved with a few different non-profit organizations. And of course, she loves animals!