In the majority of American homes, the second that someone walks through the door, they may be greeted by a wagging tail. According to the Insurance Information Institute, 67% of U.S. households own a pet. More specifically, 63.4 million people own a dog.
A dog is often not just a dog for most families. For many of these owners, their dogs are vital parts of the family. Without them, their family may not feel quite as complete.
According to the Humane Society, Each year in the U.S, 2.7 million dogs and cats are euthanized because too few people adopt from shelters. While there are many no-kill shelters scattered throughout the United States, it becomes almost impossible to keep all of these dogs because space is limited. As the Humane Society says, adopting saves lives.
This week, my dog of almost 14 years died. The truth is, she wasn’t just a dog — she was so much more than that. I don’t even really remember my life without her. When one grows up, they may not consider their pet’s death. They feel like they’ll be around forever.
My dog only cost $40. She was among hundreds of dogs in Philadelphia’s Animal Welfare Society shelter. PAWS is the biggest rescue center in Philadelphia. They are also a no-kill shelter. As previously mentioned, many other shelters are unable to be no-kill because of the amount of animals they have. The sad truth behind this is that 56% of dogs that enter these shelters end up being euthanized. The adoption rates are much lower than the euthanization rates. Out of all the dogs that enter these shelters, only 25% are adopted. It’s imperative that individuals work towards lowering this euthanization rate. This is only able to happen through the act of adoption.
Euthanization rates could lower if individuals decided to adopt and not buy. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have had lower incomes than usual. Adoption is a much cheaper option as opposed to buying. One will be saving a life in a cost efficient way.
During the peak of the pandemic, many individuals began to adopt dogs. In January of 2021, the Washington Post put out an article stating that the animal shelters in Washington were experiencing low amounts of dogs in shelters. Meaning, so many were being adopted, there were hardly any to choose from.
In the same article, they state that animal rescue operators were worried that after the pandemic, some new pet owners might not have the time or want the responsibility and cost associated with an animal. While the idea behind the adoption of a dog might have seemed like a good idea at the time, it may not after the country begins to return to normal. Individuals get busy and the cost of dogs adds up. Adopting a dog must come with genuine intentions and true dedication. They are not able to be thrown away once you become busy, or bored.
I think back to almost 14 years ago when we got my dog, and I’m grateful that we could give her the life she deserved. The choice to adopt her was a genuine one that gave us a lifelong connection. Choosing to adopt not only saves the lives of these animals but could provide pet owners with another member of the family.
Margaret Willcox is a media, arts, and design major. Contact Margaret at firstname.lastname@example.org.