To The Dogs—Canine Advice Column

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Ready to become a dog family? You’ve got option to find your next pet

By Hilton Butler

We know dog ownership brings many benefits; studies show pet owners, in general, have lower levels of stress and loneliness along with higher activity levels and opportunities for socialization. Some studies even show that pet owners—and dog owners in particular—live longer lives. When looking for your next companion, you might consider a shelter pet, a rescue or one from a responsible breeder. What’s the difference between them, you might wonder, and which is best for you?

Shelter & Rescue Pets

Shelter and rescue pets are often housed differently but have similar backgrounds; they might have been found as a lost animal, surrendered or abandoned by their owners, or taken away from an abusive situation. Shelters are typically operated and funded by local governments, and shelter animals are kept in a facility and housed with other animals.

Rescue groups, on the other hand, are generally operated by volunteers and funded by donations. Most rescue animals are housed, or “fostered,” with volunteers until permanent placement with a loving family can be secured.

Pet adoption statistics reveal that approximately 3.2 million shelter animals are adopted each year. Shelter and rescue animals make great pets—here are some reasons to consider adopting one:

  • You might be saving a life. About 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized every year. By adopting, you can make a difference in an animal’s life while also helping curb the demand for puppies created by some unethical breeders.
  • You make room for another animal. Overcrowding is a leading cause of euthanasia; by taking one out of the mix, you make room for one more.
  • You might be giving an animal a second chance. Some rescue animals come from abusive pasts, and while they might require extra love and training to get over previous trauma, they’re often grateful for the new lease on life.

Your pet might come pre-trained. Many shelter and rescue animals once lived with another family and have already been house-trained and understand other commands. Even if the animal wasn’t properly trained, the volunteer or foster family might work on that before you adopt.


This is an excerpt from the full article—get the whole story in the Spring 2022 Chrome magazine, which is sent to all current APHA members. Not a member? Join or renew at apha.com/join.