Are you planning on an addition to your furry family? Veterinarians are often asked for their opinions about breeds of dogs (and sometimes cats!), and which are the best ones to get. My answer is always the same: adopt a shelter pet! Based on the ASPCA’s (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) website, while it is impossible to estimate how many stray dogs and cats live in the United States, the estimate for stray cats approaches 70 million. 70 million! Think about it-that is an extraordinarily high number.

Stray pets are usually lost or abandoned pets that were not cared for properly. They are often still intact (not neutered or spayed), so they contribute to pet overpopulation. In addition, they are often carriers of diseases that could be prevented with vet care and vaccinations. They live shorter lives than owned cats and dogs; an injured or sick stray animal is unlikely to be taken in for treatment by a veterinarian. The ASPCA estimates that 5 out of 10 dogs in shelters and 7 out of 10 cats in shelters are destroyed because there is no one to adopt them.

There are many wonderful breeds of dogs and cats, and it is definitely understandable that many people want to purchase a pure bred animal from a pet store or breeder because they love the breed. I do caution potential owners: if you insist on a pure bred animal, make sure you research the breed first! With many breeds, they are predisposed to certain diseases.

When you adopt a shelter pet, the pet will already be spayed or neutered, have a microchip (in most cases), have at least the first set of vaccinations, be dewormed, and usually tested for hw disease (dogs) and FeLV and FIV (cats). There will always be people wanting to purchase pure bred puppies and kittens; why not help the animals that are crowding our shelters, and save the life of a pet who desperately needs it?

In summary, when you adopt a pet you will:

  • Help reduce pet overpopulation
  • Help reduce spread of disease with companion stray animals
  • Help a pet live a longer, healthier and happier life
Ready to adopt? Start here:

With information from