By Phil Snyder, Executive Director of Suncoast Humane Society
Published in the Englewood Sun on October 11, 2015
Most modern-day statistics agree that only 29 percent of pet owners adopt their pets from animal shelters or rescue groups. More than 50 percent obtain their pets from family members, relatives or friends, or they find them abandoned as strays.
Felines lead this category. One study shows that 26 percent purchase their pet from a shelter from a breeder, and 13 percent buy from a pet store. The totals add up to be well over 100 percent because some people have multiple pets from different sources.
If you think about it, there are so many ways to get your pet. There are animal shelters, breeders, pet stores, newspaper ads, Craigslist and social media, free-to-good-home ads, and signs on trees or corner light poles.
My top recommendation is, of course, the animal shelter. It is a shame that more people do not adopt from a shelter. There are so many great homeless pets, and the shelter staff is well-trained to help you choose the pet just right for your family. You also have the opportunity to save a life.
For those who have their hearts and minds set on a specific breed, there are reputable breeders out there. However, don't forget to call a shelter first, as 25 percent or more of the dogs, and possibly cats, they receive are purebred.
The remaining options for finding a good pet deteriorate quickly from there. Beware of the cute puppies at pet stores that were bred in commercial breeding establishments, called puppy mills. You often will experience the heartache of an inferior animal with long-term medical and behavioral issues. Many grow up, if they grow up, to be a slight resemblance of the intended breed.
Many pets adopted through free-to-good-home ads, Craigslist and the other above-mentioned means become subjected to suffering and abuse. These are cheap ways of advertising and often result in tragic lives for the pets.
There are still 7 million to 8 million dogs and cats being turned in to animal shelters each year, and 3 million to 4 million of these are being euthanized, mostly due to temperament, medical or behavioral problems. This is certainly another reason to choose a shelter.
It is estimated that 22 million families will be considering a new pet over the next year. It is encouraging to note that in one poll, more than 80 percent of those people interviewed stated they will consider adopting their next pet from an animal shelter.
We will be waiting.