Photos courtesy of Allison Jensen

February 20th is National Love Your Pet day, and this weekend PetSmart Charities is hosting National Adoption Weekend. If there’s one thing you should take away from this post, it’s that you should hop in your car right now and head to your nearest pet shelter.

The stats, according to the ASPCA:

  • Approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, approximately 3.9 million are dogs and 3.4 million are cats.
  • Each year, approximately 2.7 million animals are euthanized (1.2 million dogs and 1.4 million cats).
  • Approximately 2.7 million shelter animals are adopted each year (1.4 million dogs and 1.3 million cats).
  • Of the dogs entering shelters, approximately 35% are adopted, 31% are euthanized and 26% of dogs who came in as strays are returned to their owner.
  • Of the cats entering shelters, approximately 37% are adopted, 41% are euthanized, and less than 5% of cats who came in as strays are returned to their owners.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year.” quote=”Approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year.”]

Unfortunately, I live in an apartment complex with a pretty hefty pet deposit fee, so I’m unable to bring home a furry friend for myself. Instead, I volunteer at my local SPCA, spending my Saturday morning caring for the animals and advocating for them to find good families to go home with. It’s incredibly rewarding to watch as they go one-by-one to warm, loving homes.

Find your nearest ASPCA shelter

Find your nearest Humane Society

Will one of those homes be yours? Here are 7 reasons to consider pet adoption:

  1. Cats and dogs are not meant to spend their lives in cages. And because shelter space is limited, cages run very small to accommodate everyone. When you adopt an animal from a shelter, you’re doing them a huge favor by freeing them from their “cell”!
  2. Adoption fees are relatively inexpensive. Prices may vary based on age or breed (kittens are generally more expensive than adult cats), and are only there to cover medical expenses like spaying, neutering, and other minor surgeries that are required before the animal is cleared to go home.
  3. Many shelter animals come from bad homes and just need some love. I’ve known so many people who have adopted/rescued animals that come from bad homes, and it’s amazing to see the transformation they go through as they adapt their new lifestyle and break habits formed in previous home environments. An older kitten/younger adult cat could come home skittish and severely underweight, and with a little love and rehabilitation turn into a loving, playful, round, and overall very happy adult cat.
  4. Shelter animals are generally older, but just as lovable as the kittens and puppies that come through the doors. Kittens go fast at my SPCA — I’ve seen them be adopted within hours of being deemed adoptable! Adult cats, on the other hand, can spend months in the shelter before they are adopted. Plus, one of the great things about adult cats and dogs is that they’ve already grown into their personalities, so you can pretty much know exactly what to expect when you bring them home.
  5. Some of the animals you see in shelters have been there for six months to over a year – that’s a long time for an animal! Cats generally live 12-15 years, and dogs 10-13, so the longer they live in a shelter, the less quality time they have to spend with someone in a nice home. And like I said before, shelter cages are pretty small, which is really uncomfortable for an adult cat that doesn’t have much room to stretch out or play. You’re doing them a huge favor by freeing them from their cage and giving them a chance to live in a nice, warm room with room to run around and play.
  6. While there are many no-kill shelters out there, depending where you go there are animals that will get euthanized after a certain point. (Recall that 31% of dogs and 41% of cats brought into shelters are euthanized each year). Personally, I volunteer at a no-kill shelter, meaning we do everything we can to avoid that situation. For some animals, though, that means a long road of recovery and rehabilitation. Again, it’s better for the animal to be fostered or adopted to live out the remainder of their lives in comfort.
  7. Adopting a pet from your local SPCA or Humane Society is a great way to support the community, and learn more about the cause. It might even inspire you to become a volunteer yourself!

Tell me, have you ever adopted a pet? Are you considering it now after reading this post? Join me in celebrating National Pet Adoption Day in the comment section below!