When looking for a new animal to add to your family, you may think of the slogan “adopt, don’t shop.” This phrase could not be more true now, as Orange County Animal Services has seen an increase in dog surrenders and a drop in adoptions.
This startling trend is partly a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. People who got pets during the lockdown are realizing they might not have time for their pets now that they are going back to work in person.
It's crucial to realize that animals are not there to only support their owners emotionally during times of hardship — they also need to be cared for and loved as the members of the family that they are. Cats and dogs are not disposable once life gets overwhelming.
OACS is making several efforts to reverse this trend, including a spring adoption special as well as reducing adoption fees. Orange County is also contributing to these efforts through a pet food assistance program.
But OCAS can only do so much to make adopting an attractive option. Ultimately, it's up to the community to better conditions by choosing to adopt from local shelters rather than buying from breeders, and only adopting when they have the means to take adequate care of an animal long-term.
Many of the puppies sold in pet stores or online originate from puppy mills. While they are legal, the majority of mills are not regulated. This means the conditions and practices are often focused on profit and not the safety and health of the animals.
While reputable breeders do exist, adopting from a shelter means you are opening up a spot to save another dog's life, as well as decreasing the business of problematic puppy mills.
Furthermore, the decision to adopt should be thoroughly considered. Factors like finances, training and how to properly care for the pet all need to be known. Informed adoption is key.
People who no longer feel like they have the means to take care of their dog should take the time and effort to find their pet a new family, rather than just dropping their pet at the shelter. This is vastly better than taking up a needed space, and the animal doesn't have to go back to shelter conditions.