Rescue, don’t shop for a companion

Many of us have seen the rather cheesy bumper sticker: “Who rescued who?” Setting aside its cheesy-ness, that is a well-known bumper sticker for a reason. The message speaks to people who have found a beloved companion in their rescued pet. 

I would like to propose something for all prospective pet owners: Rescue, don’t shop. When my family was looking to get our first dog, we knew nothing about how important it was to look for a rescue animal. Because of family allergies we needed a hypoallergenic dog, and we assumed the best way to find one was through a breeder.

Luckily, knowing what I know now, this breeder was most likely not operating a puppy mill. For those unfamiliar with the term, “puppy mills” churn out puppies very quickly in order to turn a profit without properly providing for their dogs, keeping the facility clean or taking into account the health of the animals.

My family loves our first dog that we got as a puppy from the breeder. However, after learning more about mills and rescue animals, I would encourage everyone to look at adopting a rescue animal first and foremost. 

Upon deciding that we were going to get a second dog, my family looked into an organization that rescues a specific breed of dog — namely the breed of dog we already had that worked well with our family and upset no one’s allergies. I say this because it is possible to receive a hypoallergenic or pure-bred animal if that is what your family needs or desires and still have them be a rescue animal. 

Granted, I know rescue animals can be daunting. They can be older, no longer puppies or kittens, and they may have been abused and subsequently have PTSD. They may need extra attention and care and may be harder to train than an animal adopted as a “baby.” However, I do not think this should deter perspective owners. While these rescue animals may have their quirks and challenges, they have a lot to offer as companions.

For example, my family’s rescue dog Louis (who also responds to Louise, Lola and LOUIS!) is one special little guy. When we first got him, he was skittish, his hair was shaggy and unkempt, he was missing teeth, he shrank from every touch and he hid at every attempt to get close to him.

What had we taken on?

However, he soon learned from my other dog Ollie how to be a “dog.” He was trained partly by us and partly by observing my other dog. Now, a couple of years into having our rescue dog, it is hard to imagine life without him. He lets us pick him up and pet him, he loves to be in whatever room the family is in and his love and devotion for my sister is unlike anything I have ever seen in my life.

I know animals can have favorite people, but the bond that develops between a rescue animal and their loving owners is something truly astonishing. 

I know it is fun to look at little puppies or kittens. It is certainly easier to get an animal that may have no “baggage,” quirks or issues. However, these animals are willing to learn and are worth the effort put into training them. There are animals who have been hurt or who have been without a loving home for their entire lives.

For those looking to adopt, please consider rescuing. There are animals already out there who need good homes and who will make grateful, loving companions. So, “Who rescued who?” Don’t you want to find out what kind of affection prompts people to slap on such a bumper sticker?

Maddie Marsh is a copy editor for the Newswire. She is a junior English and philosophy double major from Cincinnati.