by Tauri Kerr
All you need is love… and a pet.
Studies show that having a pet is actually beneficial to your wellbeing. It is easy to see the immediate joys that come with sharing your life with an animal companion, but not many people know of the physical and mental health benefits that come with it too.
Pets, specifically cats and dogs, can reduce stress, anxiety, depression, help with loneliness, encourage exercise, and improve your cardiovascular health. Pets are beneficial to all – children feel a sense of responsibility when looking after a pet and adults enjoy a valuable companionship. In my opinion, the most valuable part of having a pet is being showered with unconditional love.
Now that we have established that pets are a great addition to anyone’s lives – let’s discuss where to get your pet.
Many people’s first instinct is to look for a purebred animal, normally found through breeders or kitten/puppy mills. A breeding mill is a location where purebred animals live in poor conditions; they receive little to no medical attention and often live in their own waste. The main intention of these breeding mills is to sell the purebred animals before they show any signs of illness. These animals often experience bad genetic defects, which causes them to live an exceedingly difficult life. The defects can range from physical problems to personality disorders.
On top of the heart-breaking defects that these animals tend to experience, breeders are also contributing to the overpopulation crisis of domesticated animals. More than 6 million animals end up homeless every year and more than half of them have to be euthanised, because they are not rehabilitated. Every time an animal is bred, another animal loses the opportunity to have a good life in a loving home.
My conclusion from this is that adopting a rescue animal is the way to go. After having a long discussion with the Sandton SPCA, I fail to understand why everyone is not running to their nearest animal shelter to adopt a companion.
By adopting from a shelter, you are saving a life. You are providing that animal with a second chance to a happy life. Many of the animals that are at these shelters have lived harsh lives, through no fault of their own, and all they want is to be loved.
Another bonus of adopting is saving money! Most shelters microchip, sterilise and vaccinate the animal before it is adopted (whereas breeders do not). The adoption fee is also much lower than buying an animal from a breeder. These procedures are the most expensive part about bringing a new pet into your home, so it goes without saying that adoption is the most feasible option for your bank account.
Although we are now in November, October was Adopt a Shelter Dog month, and I would like to honour that by emphasising the importance of opening your home to a new fur baby. Nothing beats the unconditional love that you receive from an animal companion.
If you are unable to permanently adopt a pet – there are options to become a ‘foster parent’ to an animal who is not coping in the shelter or needs to learn how to be around people. If this is also not possible for you, most animal shelters offer volunteer programs which are very easy to sign up for. There are many options, all of which are easy to do, heart-warming for you and crucial to an animal’s life. There are many SPCAs all over the country and you can easily find one close to you.
A pet is a companion who will never judge you, will love you regardless of what happens, and will always be there. It is said that animals know when they have been rescued so the bond between you and your rehomed pet will be especially strong.
A pet might just be a small part of your life but, to them, you are their whole life. Change a life today and adopt a pet.