Reasons for Pet Adoption

Smiling person holding a white dog with black spots who she adopted

Pet adoption is a lifesaving and heart-expanding endeavor. And there are so many rewards of adopting a pet, including saving the life of a homeless pet and providing them with love and companionship, addressing community issues such as cat and dog overpopulation, and making room for shelters and rescue groups to save more pets.

When you adopt a pet, you are also doing your part to put an end to puppy mills and other inhumane breeding practices where animals often live in cramped conditions without much quality of life. Backyard breeders and pet mills are notorious for overbreeding dogs. And some cat breeders have also been found to have mill-like conditions, where adult animals are bred over and over for the sole purpose of churning out pets for sale.

Adopting a pet can also positively impact a person’s life, and the physical and mental health benefits of having a pet are worth noting. More exercise, play, and outdoor time can improve a person’s mood and increase their socialization as they meet other people (and pets) on daily walks. In addition, an increase in exercise through daily walking can improve physical fitness and health conditions. Plus, a pet can provide friendship and companionship that can help with loneliness and depression.

If you can’t adopt a pet right now, you can still reap these benefits. There are plenty of dogs, cats, and other pets at animal shelters and rescue groups who need daily walks and attention.

As you can see, there are countless reasons for pet adoption — and there are many homeless dogs and cats in shelters and rescue groups across the country who need a loving home. These animals are deserving of our love, attention, and care. And their benefits for us abound as well.

Adopt a Pet


Smiling person with a one-eyed French bulldog

Benefits of adopting vs. buying

When you adopt a pet from a shelter or rescue organization instead of buying a pet, you are providing a home for a pet in need and freeing up space for more animals to be saved. Every day, dogs and cats are killed in America’s shelters simply because they don’t have safe places to call home. That means when you adopt an animal, you are gaining a loving companion and saving a life at the same time.

By adopting a pet, you’re also taking a stand against puppy mills, which are cruel, inhumane factory farms for dogs where quick profits take precedence over the well-being, health, and security of the animals.

Puppy mill dogs live in cramped quarters, and female dogs are bred continuously to produce as many puppies as possible to turn a quick profit for the retail pet trade. Ultimately, the focus is on money and not on the welfare of the animals.

While more and more Americans oppose this inhumane practice, there are still thousands of puppy mills in existence in this country today. Many people don’t realize that when they buy a dog online or from a pet store, that dog might have come from a puppy mill. Adopting a pet is a lifesaving alternative and a wonderful way to protest pet mills and advocate for animals.

Animal adoption has also become more affordable (thanks to reduced fees and free adoption events) and accessible. These days, adoptable animals are easy to find on websites like Petfinder and Adopt a Pet, which feature pets in shelters and rescue groups around the U.S. There are also plenty of other online resources where you can adopt a pet near you, searching from the comfort of your home.

The cost to acquire and care for a dog or cat is worth considering. Buying a pet can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars while adoption is generally cheaper, and there could be additional veterinary costs associated with animals who come from a pet store or breeder. For example, because puppy mills cut corners on health and welfare, dogs purchased from such a facility often end up with health problems.

If you are looking for a specific breed of dog, you don’t have to shop for one. There are breed-specific rescue groups all around the U.S. that specialize in the kind of dog you want whom you can adopt. You can also adopt a purebred dog at a shelter.

Furthermore, many animal shelters and rescue groups spay or neuter their dogs and cats before their adoption, as well as vaccinate and microchip their animals. This can mean hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in additional savings when you adopt a pet as opposed to buying one.

Pet adoption saves lives, and it frees up space in shelters so more lives can be saved. It is also the more ethical, thoughtful, and caring way to bring a pet into your life.

Adopt a Pet


Benefits of adopting a pet

Pet adoption positively impacts the lives of homeless animals, as well as the people who adopt them.

Adopting an animal often provides new opportunities for social interaction and connection with other people who have pets. It can decrease social isolation and loneliness; improve physical health through exercise, play, and new fitness routines; and improve one’s mental health, emotional stability, and overall sense of well-being thanks to the unconditional love of a companion animal.

A pet can also produce a calming effect on a person. For example, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, “simply petting a dog lowers the stress hormone cortisol, while the social interaction between people and their dogs actually increases levels of the feel-good hormone oxytocin (the same hormone that bonds mothers to babies).”

Moreover, pets can provide value to their family and community as emotional support animals and therapy pets. They can help people with a host of conditions, including diabetes, autism, cancer, and PTSD. And they can visit people at homes, hospitals, nursing homes, care facilities, schools, and throughout the community. In addition, rescuing animals can be a great tool for parents to teach their children about responsibility; animal care; and the necessity for routine healthy nutrition, exercise, and playtime.

A rescued pet can also reduce stress and anxiety. For instance, studies have shown that eye contact with your dog can release oxytocin — known as the love hormone — which can relieve both anxiety and depression.

In a report on the power of pets, the National Institutes of Health said that interacting with animals can lower blood pressure. Other studies have found that pets can improve overall heart health and reduce the risk of certain heart-related diseases.

A rescued pet also can give a person a renewed sense of purpose and provide them with unconditional love. Dogs and cats are incredible companions, and they really have a positive impact on our overall health and well-being.

Adopt a Pet


Smiling person holding a brown tabby kitten up

Why is shopping for a pet bad?

When people adopt a pet, they are saving a life. When they buy a pet, a homeless pet misses out on the chance at a loving home. And buying pets supports an industry that thrives on disregarding the welfare of animals.

Puppy and kitten mills (which sell to pet stores) are in business to make a profit, so they churn out puppies and kittens as fast as they can. These animals are often in ill health and have problems, such as poor socialization skills due to a lack of human companionship and genetic defects due to inbreeding.

This inhumane breeding and selling of animals through pet stores and in classified ads has been going on for decades. Breeders have also headed online. They sell dogs and cats — born and bred in cruel conditions — through social media channels, in online neighborhood groups, and through online classifieds.

The minimal standards imposed on breeders by the federal government don't promote responsible breeding or ensure healthy puppies and kittens. These government standards also do not address quality of life for the animal; rather, they are about the bare minimum of care. For example, it is perfectly legal for a licensed breeder to own 1,000 or more dogs, keep those dogs confined for the entirety of their lives in small cages, and breed them as often as possible. There are also only a handful of inspectors in each state for all of the state's licensed breeding facilities.

Most puppies sold in pet stores come from puppy mills, and most websites that sell dogs are selling mill-bred pets. It is also important to note that most of these sites market their pets as being well-bred and lovingly raised. Be alert to ads that list several breeds of dogs for sale. It is also a bad sign if a breeder won't let you come visit the pet so that you can see where the animal lives and how they’ve been raised and cared for.

The best way to safeguard against supporting a puppy or kitten mill is never to buy an animal from a pet store or online and instead adopt a dog or cat from a shelter or animal rescue group. Do note though that some pet stores have dogs and cats who are available for adoption through shelters or rescue groups.

Adopt a Pet


Couple of people sitting outside on the grass with a brindle dog

Factors to consider before adopting a pet

Whether you head to your local shelter or a rescue group to adopt a dog, cat, bird, or other animal, think about the kind of pet who will be the best match for you, your family, your lifestyle, and even your energy level and health.

For instance, if you have a lot of time and patience and are willing to dedicate yourself to training a dog, then adopting a puppy might be a good fit. On the other hand, you might consider a more relaxed animal — e.g., an older dog or cat — if you want a slower pace of life. Either way, animal shelters and pet rescue groups have lots of cats, kittens, puppies, dogs, and other animals to choose from.

Adopting a pet is a decision that must be taken seriously. Pets need daily social interaction, play, exercise, training, financial support for vet bills and routine medical care, food, toys, supplies, and even pet-sitting and lodging expenses should you go out of town.

You also need to consider the temperament of the pet and how the animal will get along with other household pets or pets in your community. Some animals need time and training to be well-mannered around people and other pets while others are polite social butterflies. Animal shelters and rescue groups sometimes list their pets’ temperament and activity level on their adoption profiles, which can be helpful information for your search to adopt a pet.

Where you live is also a factor to consider in pet adoption. For instance, if you’re considering a high-energy dog, make sure you have ample space for the dog to run and play and a neighborhood where you can take them for long walks. Low-energy pets who need less activity time might be better suited for smaller spaces.


Smiling person whose arm is around a black and white dog

Advocating for pets

You can advocate for pets and protest puppy mills through a host of puppy mill initiatives from Best Friends Animal Society. We are working to convince pet stores to offer pets for adoption instead of selling mill-bred pets, educate consumers about puppy mills, and create and lobby for humane legislation. Together, we're making an impact and saving lives. You can join us and help bring about a time when every pet can feel safe, happy, and loved.

Why fight the puppy mill problem? More than 1,000 dogs and cats were killed in U.S. shelters every day in 2023, simply because they did not have safe places to call home. One of the most effective and easiest ways a person can help Save Them All is by choosing to adopt a dog or cat instead of purchasing a pet.

When you adopt, you're not only refusing to support puppy mills, but you’re also saving a life and giving an animal in need the second chance he or she deserves.

There are more ways you can help fight puppy mills:

  • Learn more about the puppy mill problem, and find the tools and resources to help fight puppy mills.
  • Download this flyer about puppy mills to share with your friends, family, and other people, and encourage them to adopt their next furry friend.
  • Make a gift to Best Friends Animal Society to be part of our efforts to end puppy mills.

Advocate for Homeless Pets


Black cat in the foreground with two people in the background in a home

Adopt a pet and save a life

We have all heard stories from people who say their adopted pet actually rescued them. An adopted animal is often the very best kind of pet, and animal adoption brings so many mental, physical, and emotional benefits into our lives.

Animal adoption is a lifesaving act that gives pets second chances and happy homes. Last year alone, around 400,000 dogs and cats were killed in our nation's shelters just because they didn’t have safe places to call home. But it doesn't have to be that way. An estimated 17 million people will add a new pet to their family this year. If more of them would choose to adopt a pet instead of buying one, we could bring every community across this country to no-kill.

Whether you adopt a dog or cat from your municipal shelter or an animal rescue group, there are so many animals of all sizes, breeds, types, and ages in need of a loving home. You can also help curtail animal overpopulation issues in your community and the killing of animals in shelters when you adopt a pet instead of buying a pet. Animal adoption also means addressing issues related to puppy mills and inhumane breeding facilities.

By saying no to shopping for a pet and saying yes to animal adoption, you’re giving a voice to animals in need around the U.S., and you're being part of the incredible movement to Save Them All.