How Adopting From My Local Shelter Changed My Life

Today is National Adopt a Pet Day!

Our pets are our whole world. For those who don’t have children yet, pets can act as a test run for kids. And, for those who don’t want children usually become pet parents instead.

Having a pet is a large responsibility that should not be taken lightly. Our pets can’t talk, but they can certainly find other ways of communicating with us on their needs, when they’re happy, they’re sad, or they’re not feeling so great.

I got my first dog when I was 15 years old. Up until that point I had never had a pet. Growing up, a couple of friends had pets, but I was never super fond of animals, especially dogs.

It wasn’t until I walked into my local humane society and saw my soon-to-be dog Coco being held up with her gorgeous white belly on display that I fell in love for the first time. I couldn’t imagine how someone could give that sweet girl up after almost 5 years. While I’m appreciative of the fact that the family who brought her in did the right thing, I wanted Coco to know that she was in her forever home and we would never leave her.

Prior to Coco, we had gone to a bunch of different humane societies and adoption drives looking for that right pet. All these smiling, tail wagging animals wanted was for someone to take them home. Also, give them the love they deserved.

That is why it’s so important that we advocate for pets, whether they’re dogs or cats, to be adopted from a shelter. Many of those animals come to a shelter because they have nowhere else to go. However, being locked in a cage is no way to live out the rest of their lives. They should be free to run, play, and share their love with humans who need a companion.

I’m so grateful that I walked into my local humane society on that day and saw my sweet girl. I learned the responsibility of having to care for another breathing, living creature.

Also, I understood what unconditional love was.

I felt sad when she felt sad. I was ecstatic when I would come home from an extended trip and she would greet me at the door (more or less hoping to score a treat from me) with the excitement she showed me. Coco was my whole world and she was more of my sister than my dog.

I am not going to say that people who buy a dog from a breeder are evil or the worse human beings ever. Many times the dogs that people truly want are not found in shelters and that’s okay. What I have learned though is that the love we show our pets is the most important.

Having the ability to give an animal, dog, cat, bunny, pig, a home that they don’t have to share with 50 other creatures or face adverse situations is so important. Furthermore, by adopting from a local shelter or humane society, you’re helping spread the message that there are pets who also deserve love and a nice home that weren’t bred for profit.

I am forever indebted to my local shelter for giving me Coco. Even though she is not here anymore, I will always have 12 years’ worth of memories because of that fateful day. Shelter animals are as equal as any dog from a breeder. So if you can do your part and are up to the task, go visit your local shelter.

If you’re hesitant about adopting forever, there are services that allow you to foster a pet for an extended time until they can find a perfect forever home for the animal. Do yourself a favor and Google local shelters in your area. These shelters need help, whether having enough supplies for their guests, or needing people to come and adopt.

It will be the greatest decision you’ll ever make, trust me.

Featured Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash

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