Dogs can be playful, loving, loyal animals, and when you welcome one into your family, you’re likely to get a new best friend right away! But not everyone gives them the care they need, and some people don’t understand why it’s so important to adopt instead of buying from pet stores or breeders.
Dogs can be great snuggle buddies, and they’re also really talented. Their sense of smell is so strong that they can detect certain diseases, like breast cancer, in humans just by sniffing. They can also use their noses to detect weapons and track and find lost humans and animals. Dogs can tell if there’s just one spoonful of sugar in two Olympic-size swimming pools! They learn about the world through smell—so let them sniff when you’re on walks, and don’t rush them along.
Dogs also have great hearing—they can hear over three times as well as most humans can. And don’t forget about their awesome eyesight—they can see in the dark.
It’s important to remember that they have feelings, too. Dogs are “pack animals,” which means they love their family (including their human family) and are very loyal. They may even get jealous when they see their human guardians showing affection to another animal. You can calm them down by petting them, which helps them feel safe and loved.
Dogs in pet stores come from breeders and puppy mills, where mother dogs are treated like breeding machines—meaning they’re forced to have babies over and over again—and their puppies are treated like products for humans to sell. They are often kept in small, dirty cages and don’t receive the love or care they deserve.
But even if a breeder gives dogs enough food, veterinary care, and a comfortable space, breeding them is still wrong, because we have no right to make dogs have babies and then sell their puppies for profit. It’s speciesist to think that one breed of dog is better than another one—all dogs are wonderful and deserve loving homes. And they should be treated like members of the family, not like toys to buy and sell. Dogs are individuals, who should be adopted, not bought and sold as ‘pets’, and then cared for properly.
When more dogs are brought into the world through breeding, that hurts all dogs, especially all the homeless ones who are waiting in a shelter to be adopted into a loving home. On any given day in the U.S., there are about 70 million homeless dogs and cats struggling to survive. Each year, only around 10% are accepted into a shelter and about half of those will be euthanized for humane reasons (for example, because they are very sick or injured) or because there aren’t enough loving homes to adopt them. If people adopt instead of buying, they can save the life of an animal in a shelter.
If your family is ready to welcome one or more animals into your home, adopt them from a local shelter! And be sure to ask a grownup to get them spayed or neutered—that will be good for their health and make sure that they don’t have any babies to add to the huge number of homeless animals.
But before your family decides to adopt, make sure you’re prepared for the commitment. Your adopted dog is always going to need fresh water, healthy food, regular veterinary visits, and lots of love, attention, and exercise.
Remember: Dogs aren’t property, they’re family. So let yours live inside with you—not chained outside all alone. If you ever see a dog who’s being treated that way, ask a grownup to contact authorities and let them know.