Most people want to adopt, but often times, people can’t get away from the idea of a pure bred pet or that designer puppy. When I am asked why I made the decision to rescue all of my animals, the answer is pretty clear. These great pets needed a loving home and a second chance. Next time you are on the lookout for that new dog, cat, or any other pet, please consider rescuing by visiting your local shelter.
My two rescues came to me by pure chance, but they have brought happiness to my home that simple would not have been there without their personalities.
I met Buddy when I was working as a relief veterinarian in addition to my 9-5 job. I travelled all over California filling in for vets that needed time off. On one occasion, I found myself in a clinic in Long Beach for a few days. Upon arriving, I learned about a sweet Golden Retriever named Buddy that was about to be put down. The family had a new baby and Buddy had recently gone blind. As the family grew, they decided they could no longer provide the kind of care that Buddy needed so they decided to put him down.
When I first met him, Buddy immediately flopped over on his side and stretched out in hopes of a belly rub. He was full of fleas, had weak back legs and was barely able to stand, but I knew at that moment that Buddy and I were meant to be. That very same evening, I loaded him into my Mini Cooper and brought him home to my small condo. After a little TLC and the appropriate medications, Buddy started showing signs of life, and in the few years we had together Buddy taught me all about the power of love, and what a fresh start could do for a sweet tired, old boy .
Cabbit was a domestic medium hair Tabby of no particular special variety except that she was a miracle. She was rescued after the 2007 San Diego fires and was burned badly. After several reconstructive surgeries, and a new lease on life, I was assigned to her as her veterinarian for post-op care. She won my heart that first day as she sat in her cage propped up like a princess with no ear tips or tail, paws that had to be partially amputated, and an affectionate purr that demanded my attention. She too was loaded into my Mini Cooper and joined the ranks of my growing pack at home.
The lessons that these two miracle animals taught me – in my mind – will always outweigh the shelter, food and vet care that I’ve provided for them. I’m not alone in my affection for rescues. Many people that have rescues have similar stories about that flea-ridden dog, or that one-eyed cat that just warmed their heart so much that they had to load them into their own proverbial Mini Cooper and take them back to join the family.
Rescued animals have a way of showing us their appreciation, and these little bits of affection, or the quirks that come attached to them have a way of giving us warmth and happiness on even the darkest of days.
It’s estimated that each year 2.7 million animals are adopted from shelters (1.3 million cats – 1.4 million dogs) and while that seems like a huge number, it pales in comparison to the 7.9 million animals that are surrendered or picked up on the street each year. On top of that staggering number, there are ten times that many stray animals still wandering the streets each day, no matter how much time, money and attention rescue agencies put into their efforts.
While the sheer volume of animals that end up in shelters is almost mind numbing, it’s even worse to think that a good deal of these animals belonged to someone at one point or another. For every cute puppy you see at the mall, there are dozens more at your local animal shelter. And older dogs? It’s rare that most realize what great companions these older dogs make, and most end up being euthanized, as they aren’t the energetic puppies that most people are looking for. While 2.7 million dogs and cats are adopted each year, just as many are euthanized due to age, medical issues, breed, or lack of interest.
Not every rescued animal is perfect, but their imperfections are what make them unique and highly memorable. Each rescued animal has a lesson to teach, and it’s up to you to learn all they can teach you within the time that you have with them.
Remember, next time you’re looking for a dog or a cat, walk right past the pet shop and into your local shelter. Not only are you potentially saving a life, but you’re voting with your dollars to put the puppy mills and backyard breeders out of business.