With the nights drawing in, the temperature dropping and twinkling lights starting to appear left, right and centre – it seems that all of a sudden Christmas is just around the corner (and how much we all need it after the year we’ve had!). Most of you have probably already given some thought to the gifts you want to give to your loved ones this Christmas, and after a particularly unusual year in lockdown with people spending increased time at home, perhaps you are wondering if this is the time to surprise your children or partner by bringing home a lovely new pet to join the family.
Perhaps you are considering buying your favourite breed of puppy or kitten from a breeder, or maybe considering adopting a pet from a rescue shelter – and in this blog we are going to focus on 5 reasons why (in my opinion) you should consider rescuing a pet, rather than buying one.
1. you will save a life
It sounds somewhat dramatic, but it is so true! Adopting a pet from a rescue shelter or charity will truly give your new pet a second chance at life. The sad reality is that all animals that end up in shelters arrive there through no fault of their own – it can be down to anything from being abandoned, neglected or abused by their owners, to simply being given up if there has been a divorce or relocation in the family, or their owner just doesn’t have time for them. There are a lot of common misconceptions that rescue animals come with lots of baggage and behavioural issues, but most of the time this truly isn’t the case. In fact, most rescue animals just want a loving home and to be welcomed into a family that wants them and cares for them – and they will love you forever for giving them that second chance.
Jasper is a working cocker spaniel who was adopted by my best friend Emma & her fiancé in 2017. He was 5 months old at the time and his previous owner had changed their mind on having Jasper as a working dog. It took a lot of love and patience for Jasper to adapt to life as an indoor pet – but he is now a total snuggle bug (I can vouch for this!), loves naps on the sofa and trips to the beach!
2. you will help the pet overpopulation problem
We don’t often think about the knock-on effects of pet population, and how it affects their world and ours. But if we break it down, there seems like there could be a simple solution to solve the problem of the amount of homeless animals and animals in rescue shelters in the UK. For every person that buys a pet from a breeder, that’s one shelter animal who doesn’t find their forever home that day. If more people chose to adopt from a rescue shelter instead, not only would that relieve the strain on charities that are struggling for space to take in new animals, but the demand for private breeders would dwindle – so more loving homes are available for all the animals who already need one, rather than continuously increasing the pet population with new litters of puppies and kittens from breeders. Wouldn’t it be so lovely to live in a world where every pet could have a loving home?
Flynn is a lurcher who was rescued by Freya from the RSPCA when he was a puppy, after he had been abandoned. But after a tough start in life, he is now the happiest dog who loves cuddles and playing outside – just look at that smile!
3. you can rescue a puppy or kitten - really!
A lot of people choose to buy their pet from a breeder rather than adopting from a shelter, because they want to have their puppy or kitten from a young age to cement that bond, and so they can do all the fun puppy and kitten stuff. I totally get it. But, who says you can’t have both? So many rescue centres end up with puppies and kittens available for adoption, and it is especially common in cats as many stray, pregnant females are taken into care and will have their litter of kittens in a shelter or foster home, and the same can be said for dogs. That being said, whilst I adore puppies and kittens, they are hard work! You can expect a good number of your things (including your limbs) to be bitten, chewed, scratched and pooped on all in the name of playtime and exploring. They can totally get away with it, (because of the cuteness) but it won’t all be totally plain sailing for that first year!
Cute alert – meet Sam & Penny, adopted by my sister Lucy & her fiancé this year from Band of Rescuers, York. They were adopted at about 9 weeks old having been born in shelter care, as their mum was semi-feral and brought into the charity when she was pregnant with this litter. They are SO playful and spend a lot of the day napping on laps – and are getting bigger and braver by the day!
4. older pets are awesome
As a cat-mum to two lovely tabbies who we rescued at the age of 10, it’s possible that I have some bias towards adopting an older pet. But, my cats rock. They settled in amazingly well considering everything they’d been through, required zero toilet-training, didn’t rip up any of our stuff and they are a totally chilled out pair of absolute softies. They had been in foster care for months before we adopted them, having always missed out on potential new pet parents to the younger cats at the shelter. But speaking from first-hand experience, adopting an older pet doesn’t have to mean taking on a long list of mobility and health issues (although if you can take on a pet who needs a little more care, that’s absolutely awesome) – our boys are full of beans and love to play, and are just full of love and affection towards us. I actually got super-emotional today thinking about how they could have been spending this Christmas in a shelter as I was watching them have a little snooze in their beds in our cosy living room – and I realised that as much as we have given them a second chance at enjoying their senior years in a loving home, they have brought so much extra love into what was already an incredibly happy home. (I love my cats, can you tell?)
Meet my lovely rescue boys, Ronnie & Reggie . My husband & I adopted them from Band of Rescuers, York in June this year and we’re both pretty comfortable that it was the best decision we’ve ever made. They were abandoned by their previous owner at the beginning of 2020 and were taken in by BORNY for rehoming. They were about 10 years old when we adopted them, and we have zero regrets about not choosing younger cats or kittens – these boys are so affectionate and love being cuddled, and they both have BIG personalities – there’s never a dull moment!
5. you'll spend less and help more
Whilst the cost of maintenance for your pet is going to be the same (from food and toys to vet’s bills and day-care), the up-front cost of adopting a pet is a fraction of the price of buying one from a breeder. There has been a staggering increase in the number of pet sales in the UK in 2020 (here’s to lockdown), especially puppies – with many breeders whacking up their prices as a result. In a study I read from the BBC, in the last year the average price of a Cocker Spaniel puppy has increased from £750 to £2100, whereas the average price for a Cavapoo puppy has soared to over £2800 this year, compared to about £900 last year. Many other popular breeds have seen similar increase in pricing due to an increased demand, which (to me) seems absolutely nuts. Adoption fees for shelter animals start from about £50 per pet, up to a maximum of about £250-£300. However, when you break it down and think about where your money is going, rather than paying breeders for a profit, adoption fees paid to a shelter go towards your pet’s vaccinations and health checks with the vet before you adopt them, covering the cost of their neutering surgery and generally going back into the charity so that the shelters can remain open and helping pets in need. In my opinion, that’s money (really) well spent.
Bruce is a Staffy who was adopted by Rachael (a fellow pet-sitter in York!) from HYPS (Helping Yorkshire Poundies) based in Rotherham. Sadly, despite their popularity, Staffies are one of the most given-up breed of dog worldwide, largely due to people choosing to buy a Staffy for their looks and their misperceived reputation as ‘scary dogs’ – which is actually purely down to how the owner trains and treats the dog themselves. As you can see, thanks to people like Rachael, Bruce is clearly a very happy and loving boy and is a much more accurate representation of how Staffies really are!
where to adopt...
Never doubting the power of social media, I asked members of a few local Facebook groups to tell me about their rescue pets and where they had adopted them from. Not only was I completely overwhelmed by the sheer amount of responses, but there were lots of charity names popping up that I hadn’t heard of before – so brace yourselves, because what started out as a pretty small list has grown into something much bigger! You can click on any of the links below to go directly to their website.
Local or Independent Rescue Shelters
Band of Rescuers, York
Greyhound Gap, Stoke
Reptilia Exotic Animal Rescue, Ossett
HYPS (Helping Yorkshire Poundies), Rotherham
Cavy Corner Guinea Sanctuary, Doncaster
Milhaven Guinea Pig Rescue, Keighley
Austin’s Hamster Haven, South Yorkshire
Royston Animal Welfare, Barnsley
Mayflower Sanctuary, Doncaster
Moorview Rescue, Harrogate
Tees Valley Guinea Pig Rescue, Stockton-on-Tees
Pudz Animal Sanctuary, North Lincolnshire
Miss Mollies Rescue, nr. Stamford Bridge
Linbee Dog Rehoming, Goole
Caring for Cats, Market Weighton
Cat Rescue & Welfare Trust, Escrick
local success stories...
As I mentioned earlier, I reached out to a couple of local Facebook groups before publishing this article as I really wanted to include photos of true rescue success stories, rather than just using someone else’s stock photos. The plan originally had been to get hold of 5 photos to go alongside each of our ‘5 Reasons to Rescue,’ but I was absolutely amazed at how many people got in touch with photos and stories about their lovely rescue pets – all in the York area! I couldn’t choose just a handful as there were so many lovely pets and amazing stories to be told, so here is a little gallery of some very happy pets who have found their second chance, and their forever homes.
A huge thank you to everyone for taking the time to read this blog, and an even bigger thank you to everyone who has sent me photos and stories about your lovely rescue pets! It was a truly overwhelming response and I’m so grateful for your help in bringing this article to life 🙂