Photo by Aidan Rogers ’22
A positive outcome of COVID-19 forcing people to work and study from home is that it offers more time to care for a pet. Many have taken advantage of this, but I’ve been frustrated that often these pets are purchased rather than rescued.
Sadly, According to the ASPCA, each year over 670,000 dogs are euthanized due to overpopulated animal shelters, jammed with neglected souls whose owners no longer feel they could care for them. Month-old puppies and more mature dogs are forced into these facilities, and many do not make it out.
I have had three dogs in my life, all of which were rescues. The first, Daisy, we found at the local Connecticut Humane Society. She had been kept in a cage far too small for her, and appeared petrified by her surroundings.
I was young, but I still remember the seemingly hundreds (although it was more likely about a dozen) of dogs barking and crying out from behind bars. That is no way for a dog to live. She was a pit bull mix, and the sweetest, most gentle and loyal dog, despite the reputation of her breed.
Many dogs like Daisy that wind up in shelters are not as lucky, especially with the “pit-mix” label. But the 10,000 estimated shelters in the U.S., hold almost every age, size and breed of dog one could ask for.
We found our second adopted dog, Lilly, a Rhodesian Ridgeback mix on Petfinder.com, a site that allows you to search for a rescue dog based on many parameters, such as age, sex, breed and location. You can even find pure-bred dogs.
By rescuing a dog, instead of paying for it, one gives that puppy or senior dog a second chance, and opens more space in the shelter, allowing them to better care for the animals that remain.
Thousands of families in search of the perfect pet look to specialized breeders for the one they desire, such as all of the popular “doodle” mixes, but it is much more expensive and leaves another dog to die in a shelter.
Plenty of my friends have dogs that I’m sure have come from breeders and puppy mills. They are great pets, but most buyers are not aware of the horrible conditions that many of these expensive puppies are raised in. This mass breeding leads to inhumane conditions for these dogs.
My family adopted our most recent pup through Little Black Dog Rescue. We started out fostering Bodhi, but she became a “foster fail;” my mom just couldn’t resist her, and so we became a three-dog household. If people gave these rescues more of a consideration and a chance, I’m confident they, too, would see that adopting them is a gift, not a sacrifice.