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Kitty or Puppy Under the Tree? Consider Adoption First

Cat and Dog - Find your perfect match at a local shelter or rescue organization.
Cat and Dog - Find your perfect match at a local shelter or rescue organization.
December 21, 2012

RICHMOND, Va. – If you are planning to bring a furry new family member home to place under the tree for Christmas, you might want to consider adoption as your first option.

Laura Donahue with the Humane Society in Virginia says that more than 100,000 normal and healthy companion animals are euthanized every year in municipal shelters in Virginia – simply because of overcrowding and lack of funds.

She says many people still have misconceptions about adopting a shelter pet – like there is something wrong with the animals, or you can't get a particular breed.

"The majority of shelter pets are formerly cherished pets that for whatever reason their previous owners could no longer care for them. Sometimes this is because the owner is elderly or may have passed or a family has to move and can't take that dog or cat with them."

Shelters are also full of kittens and puppies that are dropped off because animals are not spayed or neutered. And if you are looking for a specific breed, Donahue says many are available from shelters and rescue organizations.

To find what pets are available in your area, she says a great on-line resource is
You can search by breed, age and personality.

Many people turn to online stores to purchase puppies and many of these retailers turn out to be what are referred to as "puppy mills," says Tracy Coppola, campaigns officer with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). She says these places are not regulated, and the buyer may see a picture of a "nice" facility on-line, but the reality is usually quite different. She says many dogs are kept in filthy cages and lack proper veterinary care.

"They are high-volume breeders who really are just looking for profit over welfare. I think the average person is quite appalled to even realize that this is such a huge market and that, because it's really not regulated, it's gone viral."

Coppola says before the Internet, most breeders placed ads and sold in their own region, and it was easier to visit their facilities and ask questions. Now, she says, 62 percent of the ads analyzed by her organization in a one-day blitz appeared to be from puppy mills. The IFAW recommends buying pets locally, and not online.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - VA