Adopt animals to save lives

By Maddie Steen and Photographer

When a shelter pet is adopted, two lives are saved. The one being rescued and the one that gets to take its place in the shelter. A life is a life no matter the species or breed.

Approximately 2.7 million shelter animals are euthanized each year, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Usually, this is because of overcrowding in shelters or extreme age.

When someone adopts an animal from a shelter, they are not only gaining a family friend but they are also rescuing a life in need while also preventing another animal from being euthanized.

The Tails Humane Society, 2250 Barber Greene Road, cares for about 2,400 animals every year and adopts out around 2,000 every year, leaving those other 400 in the shelter system, according to Michelle Groeper, executive director of Tails Humane Society.

“We’ve actually had volunteers drive down and meet another animal control facility down South on New Year’s Eve, and we took in a number of animals that were going to be euthanized that night if we didn’t take them,” Groeper said.

Tails doesn’t euthanize animals for cage space or time; once they make a commitment to an animal, that animal is their responsibility until a loving family comes to adopt it.

Because kennel and cage space is limited, the facility must rely on the community and those adopting to continuously save the lives of more animals in need. The faster animals are adopted, the sooner Tails has room to rescue another animal from an overcrowded, open-admission shelter where animals are at a higher risk of being euthanized.

It’s a myth that cats and dogs end up in shelters because of behavior or health issues, according to the One Green Planet Organization, yet it is not the animal’s mistake.

More often than not, shelter animals are found as strays or surrendered because of owners falling on hard times or life changes that don’t allow them to take care of the animal anymore, Groeper said.

When an animal is adopted from a shelter, that animal is given the love and home that it once had but lost.

Not only does rescuing an animal from a shelter give them life again, but it can also give purpose to the adopter’s life. Animals are not always adopted when a family wants a pet for their kids.

Some adopters may live alone or could be struggling with a part of their life, and that pet may provide them with a reason to get up in the morning or come home from work.

“They say that when you rescue a dog, do you rescue a dog or does the dog rescue you? They teach us unconditional love. For [my wife and me], we don’t have children, and our dogs are our children. They are only with us for a short time, so you tend to go through all phases of life,” said John Tobias, of DeKalb. “They make life worth living — more full.”

Studies show that owning a pet is beneficial to people and can provide emotional and social support.

“Specifically, pet owners had greater self-esteem, were more physically fit, tended to be less lonely, were more conscientious, were more extroverted, tended to be less fearful and tended to be less preoccupied than non-owners,” said Allen R. McConnell, the lead researcher of Miami University in Ohio, in an online journal published by the American Psychological Association.

Until two weeks ago, Tails had a pit bull named Heidi who had been there for a little over a year. She had been adopted twice within the past year but was returned each time because she didn’t get along with small animals.

During Heidi’s stay, she became very near and dear to the staff and volunteers. It took her a long time, but she was finally adopted into the perfect home for her and even went back to visit the staff Saturday at Tails.

“This is why we do what we do. She’s a classic example that we don’t give up on animals after a certain time,” said Groeper. “There’s no better feeling. Some [animals] are just more special and tug at your heartstrings, who have been here for a while or have a special story, and it’s really just so heartwarming to see that animal get adopted.”

No matter if people adopt or buy from shops and breeders, they are giving a pet a home. A life is a life, no matter the species or breed; it’s possible to find love in those never imagined.