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15 Reasons Why You Should Adopt a Shelter Dog

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By Jillian Kramer, Redbook

October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, sponsored by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) to promote the adoption of dogs from local shelters. “We’ve seen an increase in adoptions across the country over the years,” says Kelly DiCicco, manager of adoptions promotions at the ASPCA—but there are still a lot of animals out there—3.3 million dogs and 3.2 million cats, to be exact—looking for their forever homes.

If you’re considering adopting a dog, there are probably hundreds of very good reasons to adopt one from a shelter. But here are just 15 of them to inspire you to start your search for the perfect pooch.


It's more compassionate than buying.

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“Dogs and cats from pet stores often come from cruel conditions and irresponsible breeders,” says Kelly DiCicco, manager of adoptions promotions at the ASPCA. The American Pet Products Association (APPA) reports that 34 percent of dogs are purchased from breeders, while only 23 percent of dogs are purchased from a shelter.


You'll get better background info.

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You may learn more about the animal you’re adopting when you adopt from a shelter—including their background, energy level, and how they might get along with other pets. “As you go through lifestyle changes such as moves, the birth of children and new jobs, your animal will remain a permanent part of your life,” says DiCicco. “If circumstances change, it’s crucial to consider if you will still be able to care for your pet before bringing them home.”


You can adopt a dog that’s already been spayed or neutered.

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“Shelter dogs are frequently already spayed/neutered, vaccinated, and sometimes even microchipped,” says Christie Keith, social media manager of The Shelter Pet Project. “This can save you a lot of money, which you can then spend on toys for your new dog.”


You’re saving lives.

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“Adoption not only moves an animal from vulnerability to safety, but creates space at the shelter, and moves more resources and attention to the remaining animals,” says DiCicco. Each year, approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized, including 670,000 dogs, according to the ASPCA.


You may find a dog better suited to your personality and needs.

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“An animal shelter is invested in the well-being of its animals, and many are committed to creating matches that take an animal’s personality, dream home, and special needs into account,” says DiCicco.


You’re sending a positive message.

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“When you proudly tell others you chose to rescue an animal, you’re sending a message that individuals can take effective action to save lives, fight cruelty, and end suffering,” says DiCicco. “The movement starts with one, but can expand to a family, then to a community, then to many communities.”


You’ll likely save money.

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Adopting from shelters is a lot less expensive than going to a breeder, says Keith. In fact, “Animal shelters are usually the least expensive of all ways to acquire a dog,” she says.


Shelter dogs are adorable—and Instagram-worthy.

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“We encourage new adopters to free up memory on their phone or camera to allow for extra cute selfies with your pet, shots of animal quirks that make you smile, and special moments with your furry friend,” says DiCicco. “Shelter staff may even be able to advise you on any social media-worthy personality traits your new pet has exhibited since being in the shelter.”


Your adoption fee will help other dogs (and cats).

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“When you adopt, your adoption fee will allow the shelter to continue its mission of helping animals in need,” says Keith.


You could fall in love with a dog you never pictured yourself taking home.

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“Shelters often have animals of different breeds, ages, shapes, sizes and personalities,” says DiCicco. “With the help of the staff, you’re likely to find a dog that is a match for your lifestyle and family.”


Adopting a shelter dog will improve your life.

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“Having a dog keeps you active, reduces stress, and helps children do better in school and avoid allergies,” says Keith. “And the extra warm glow you get knowing you adopted can’t hurt.”


The pooch you pick may already be socialized and house-trained.

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“Shelter staff put in a lot of work to learn about the dog and set him or her up for a successful transition into a new home,” says DiCicco.


Adopting makes space for another to find his forever home.

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“Bringing a shelter or rescue group dog into your family will open up another space for a dog in need to be cared for until he is adopted, too,” Keith explains.


You’re giving a dog who may have had a hard life a better one.

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“They’re ready to learn what love is, if you’re ready to show them,” says DiCicco. “Approximately 1.6 million dogs are adopted each year, so you won’t be alone in adding a dog from a shelter to your family.”


It’s a given—you’ll love your dog.

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“When you’ve adopted a homeless pup, it will bring you incredible joy to know you literally changed his or her entire world,” says Keith.

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