-- by Mike Murray
Upon hearing that my wife and I had adopted our dog from a rescue organization, a neighbor said this: "Well, I guess that's cheaper than buying one" (from a breeder, a pet store, a puppy mill, etc.).
I didn't know whether to be amused or insulted by the woman's comment. I paused for a moment. And then, chivalry won out. Instead of reacting angrily, I calmly replied: "Cost had nothing to do with it. A week after welcoming Janna into our home, we donated $500 to the organization from which we adopted her. We weren't looking to save money; we were looking to save a life."
I reminded (or, perhaps, informed) the woman that every critter that a rescue group is able to a place into permanent adoption frees a space (in a shelter, in a foster home) for a new stray. As a consequence, every successful placement ultimately leads to a corresponding intake -- and the saving of an additional life.
I'm sure that it would astound the woman (who has since moved away) to learn that my wife and I have -- in the roughly ten years since we adopted Janna -- contributed thousands of dollars to agencies directly and indirectly connected to her rescue (and medical treatment). So, no, our selection of a mutt in Janna's case -- or in the case of other “mongrels” who preceded her in our lives -- wasn't even remotely related to frugality.
My former neighbor's remarks (born of ignorance, rather than snootiness, I like to believe) got me thinking. How many other people, I wondered, harbor such misguided assumptions? While it is certainly true that animals "purchased" from non-profit agencies cost considerably less than do ones procured from for-profit sources, expense is not the motivating factor for countless adopters.
For some, of course, it is. It has to be -- since the high price of "pure-bred" (I prefer the term "single-breed") animals puts them beyond the financial reach of many folks. For those people, adoption represents the only feasible means of securing an animal companion.
Nevertheless, it leads to a win-win-win result: A critical placement for the rescue organization; a freed-up space for another homeless critter to occupy; an affordable addition to the family for the adopter.
My affection for rescued "multi-breeds" (it'll catch on) in no way represents a rebuff of animals with pedigrees, however. They don't decide how they will come into the world. No animal (no human, either, for that matter) decides his or her own origin. Besides, I've known scores of creatures who were purchased from reliable, responsible breeders. And nearly all of them were sweet souls.
Still, with so many animals out there struggling to survive (many of them in vain, in the face of cruel over-supply), my wife and I cannot in good conscience consider anything but rescues. For us, adoption has always worked. Always will. Besides, you can't measure love in dollars and cents. The adorable Miss Janna would have been a bargain -- at any price.
Copyright © 2010 Michael F. Murray -- All rights reserved.