Where did you get your pets?

According to a new study, an increasing number of Americans are ready to find their new best friend at their local shelter.

Animal Rescue Group Takes In Cats And Dogs Displaced From Oklahoma Tornadoes
Photo Credit - Joe Raedle /Getty Images
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Does this mean animal breeders should worry?

Rise of the underdog

Years ago, shelter pets were stigmatized as being unwanted, unlovable and defective animals. It was as if there was something wrong with having a second-hand pet.

Those of us who saw classic movies know exactly how animal shelters were portrayed, such as the memorable pound scene from Disney's "Lady and the Tramp".

Thankfully, shelter pets have shaken off that bad reputation.

According to a new study from Bone Voyage Dog Rescue, attitudes toward shelter pets have dramatically shifted over the past few years. They polled 3,000 potential dog owners and asked them if they'd rather rescue or buy their next pet.

They also compiled state-by-state data on shelter dog searches.

When it comes to New York's potential pet owners, the preference for shelter animals has grown dramatically.

How popular are shelter pets in the Empire State?

According to this latest survey, 49 percent of New Yorkers would rather adopt a pet from their local shelter instead of buying one from a breeder.

Created by Bone-Voyage-dog-rescue • Viewlarger version

In all, when comparing these numbers to previous data, there has been a nearly 10 percent jump in people expressing interest in adopting from shelters.

There are some states where sentiments on shelter pets have skyrocketed, with places like Nebraska, New Mexico, and Wyoming finding responses ranging from 75 to 81 percent.

Annette Thompson, Executive Director of Bone Voyage Dog Rescue, is overjoyed by the findings.

This increasing trend towards shelter dog adoption promises substantial improvements in the welfare of homeless animals. The shift could lead to a decrease in the number of dogs in shelters, as more are adopted.

She adds that if more people choose to adopt their next pet, there will be a positive ripple effect across the economy.

Why rescue?

The biggest benefit of adopting more pets directly translates to an improvement in animal welfare.

David McNew, Getty Images
David McNew, Getty Images
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By clearing out the shelters, it means these organizations would have "more resources available per animal, including space, staff attention, and medical care." It also would mean that animals waiting for their forever home would have better living conditions at the shelter.

Secondly, rising favor toward adoptions could be the death knell to unethical breeding, such as puppy mills. If you take away their demand, then these terrible breeders might go out of business.

Lastly, this would not only improve the quality of life for pets, it will also benefit humans.

Said Thompson:

This rising trend of adoption not only promises a brighter future for shelter dogs but also signifies a broader cultural shift towards responsible pet ownership and empathy towards animal welfare. The data certainly supports the trend, and it’s a trend that would have immense impact across the animal welfare field.

In all, there appears to be more to gain when more people choose to rescue their pet.

My hot take

I will fully admit one of my pets did come from a breeder. Harvey, my rough collie, was purchased in North Carolina. However, I should note my breeder was a big fan of the breed and followed all the steps to ensure her practice was accredited by the American Kennel Club.

When Harvey came into my life, he had a clean bill of health, had the happiest personality, and was socialized. Plus, the breeder said she would take him back, no questions asked, if I ever was unable to take care of him.

Courtesy of Megan/WIBX
Courtesy of Megan/WIBX
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He's been my sunshine for the past five years, and I am so fortunate he's in my life.

But, I understand not all breeders are the same. Not everyone genetically tests their breeding dogs to ensure there's no abnormalities, nor do they socialize them or take their pups to the vet for their shots.

I also know that some breeders don't want to take their dogs back should an owner be unable to take care of them.

That is why I cannot stress enough to do your diligence if you want a purebred dog or cat. It is important to not only research your breeder, but treat the process like a job interview and actually meet the kennel owner and see the conditions of which their dogs are kept.

Conversely, my other pet is a rescue. Back in 2012, I knew I wanted to rescue a female cat and was recommended I find one at Vernon Animal Shelter in Connecticut.

I originally planned on adopting a kitten and was checking out a cage of little happy puffballs when I heard an ungodly shrieking from the cage next to them.

There, I saw Phoebe climbing her cage like a monkey and batting a paw directly at me. And then the shelter owner just had to say, "I never saw her do that before."

Needless to say, I felt chosen and came home with an adult cat who expertly hid all her behavioral issues until I fell firmly in love with her.

Megan/WIBX
Megan/WIBX
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We celebrate our 11th anniversary next month.

Where to rescue pets in Central NY

There are plenty of shelters in the Mohawk Valley. Here's a few rescues that have animals of all shapes and sizes waiting for their forever homes right now:

  1. The Humane Society of Rome, located at 6247 Lamphear Rd., Rome.
  2. Herkimer County Humane Society, located at  514 NY-5S, Mohawk. 
  3. Anita’s Stevens Swan Humane Society, located at 5664 Horatio St, Utica.
  4. Paws for the Cause Rescue, located at 7846 Lewis Rd, Blossvale.
  5. Pause 4 All Paws Animal Rescue, an online rescue serving Central NY.
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