Surviving Spouse Corner: Benefits of Pet Adoption

Surviving Spouse Corner: Benefits of Pet Adoption
Photo by David Baileys/Getty Images

According to the ASPCA, well over 6 million companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters every year and just under 1 million are euthanized each year. Thankfully, that number has been declining in recent years due in part to more publicity around adoption as well as ease of technology tools like social media and microchips that can help to reunite a lost pet with its family.


You might have thought about pet adoption and perhaps have some misgivings, and it is true that pet ownership is not right for everyone. After all, it can be a commitment of up to 20 years. Here are some adoption myths and why pet adoption might be right for you.

  • "Why adopt, not shop?" Adoption is cheaper, and you can save a life. Look into your local pet rescues and animal control shelters. Many will offer low cost adoption days or assistance with adoption fees and spay/neuter costs. Buying a pup from a pet shop may encourage the use of “puppy mills” or overbreeding. True, there are very reputable breeders that take great care of their animals, but consider all the animals that currently need a loving home that you could provide.

  • "I can’t get a purebred from a shelter." You’d be surprised at what you can find through your local rescues and shelters. If you want a specific breed, reach out to your local rescue organizations and shelters, and fill out an application listing your preference.

  • "Shelter pets have behavioral issues." Some do, some don’t, and there is no guarantee of an animal’s disposition even if you buy one from a breeder. Most rescues want to see a successful placement so they will try their best to match an animal to a potential family based on their breed and observed demeanor. Want an energetic pup? They have it. Want a cuddly cat? They have those, too. House-trained pet? Yep. No time for pet training? Many will offer that as well. Just remember that you and your shelter pet need an adjustment period to get used to a new routine.

  • "I’m older. What if the pet outlives me?" First, as many of us know, tomorrow is not guaranteed and as such, regardless of our age we should all have a care plan for who will care for our pets when we no longer can. Second, consider adopting a senior pet or fostering through a reputable rescue.

  • "I can’t afford it." Yes, pets can be expensive. If this is a concern, check into long-term foster programs where costs may be covered in part or in full. You might also want to consider pet insurance. (MOAA Insurance even offers a plan.)


My two senior pups recently passed away, and when I was ready, I reached out to a few rescues in my area. I am now the dog mom to a 2-year-old, lazy, fully housebroken 45-pound, ridiculously cute, mixed-breed bundle of love and couldn’t have asked for a better pup.


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About the Author

Nancy Mullen
Nancy Mullen

Mullen is the Second Vice Chair of MOAA's Surviving Spouse Advisory Council.