According to the ASPCA, around 6.5 million animals enter US animal shelters every single year — about 3.3 million dogs and 3.2 million cats. That’s a lot of pets that need a home. And while many people think that there are only two ways to get pets — either from a breeder or a store — often the best option for both the pet and owner is to go through a shelter.

Awareness of the importance of adopting pets from shelters has certainly grown in recent years, but many people still do not know the reasons behind the pressure to adopt, rather than “shop” for an animal. So why is pet adoption so important? Here are just a few reasons to adopt a shelter pet:

1. You can save lives.

As well as the fact that there are millions of pets that enter shelters every year, the ASPCA estimates that around 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized each year. Though this number — just like the overall number of abandoned pets — has been declining since 2011, it still represents millions of animals that need a home in order to live. And since 3.2 million shelter animals are adopted each year, there is still plenty of room for growth. If you are able and considering adopting, now is the time!

2. You can save money.

Compared with a breeder or other avenue, adoption is usually the most affordable option for getting a new pet. There is usually an adoption fee, but this will often include the animal having already been treated or vaccinated for regular things such as fleas and rabies respectively. They also have often already been spayed or neutered, and may even have a microchip already.

3. You probably won’t have to housetrain it.

As well as the benefits of saving money on initial routine vet visits, you will likely also save the time and money associated with training

your pet. Many older shelter dogs have already been house trained, so you can spare yourself the headache.

4. You can help protect animals.

Adoption is the best way to fight against programs that are incredibly harmful to animals, such as puppy mills. Many of the animals that come from pet stores come from places like this, to the detriment of the animals’ health and general wellbeing. Adopting from a shelter guarantees that you will be rescuing a healthy animal, without supporting these kinds of places.

5. Because it’ll make you feel good!

Aside from all of the regular benefits of owning an animal, such as companionship and emotional support, you get an extra boost from doing the right thing and saving an animal that needs your help. As far as endorphins go, it doesn’t get better than that!

Despite all of these reasons, there are still many myths surrounding pet adoption. Adopting a pet from a shelter does not mean that it will be old or badly behaved, or in any way worse than a pet from any other avenue — and it may in fact be healthier. You can read this article to see the truth behind many common pet adoption myths.

If you are not in a position to adopt an animal right now, there are still ways in which you can support shelters. Local shelters need all the financial support they can get — here is a directory that can help you to find one near you.

You can also support rescue pet adoption through Cleaning for the PAWS, Chem-Dry of Indianapolis’s initiative to support rescue shelters across the United States. We have partnered with Best Friends Animal Society to raise funds and awareness for shelter pet adoption. You can learn more about these initiatives, and donate at the link below:

Donate to Best Friends Animal Society Today!

We help animals because they cannot help themselves. Whatever you can do to support local shelters will certainly make a difference for those animals — and it may end up helping you just as much.