If you stop any dog-walker on the street and ask about their pooch, whether it’s a mutt or purebred, there’s a good chance you’ll be told it is a “rescue.”
Rescuing dogs—adopting them from a shelter or breed rescue, as opposed to buying from a pet shop or breeder—has become increasingly “trendy,” and for good reason.
About 3.9 million dogs are euthanized in the US every year, according to the American Society For the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Specific numbers for euthanized companion animals in Canada are not as conclusive, but pet overpopulation is a serious problem. To give some perspective, data collected by the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) shows that 11% of shelter dogs were euthanized in 2014—and that’s just from the organizations who took the survey. And in 2013, half a million dogs and cats were put to death in Quebec alone.
Unfortunately, shelters simply don’t have enough room or resources to care for all the accidental litters, strays, and abandoned animals out there. But as social awareness has increased through news stories and social media, so has the trend to rescue dogs. In fact, it’s even become “cool.” Here are some reasons why:
1. Rescuing dogs goes hand-in-hand with efforts to help the environment
Thrifting is cool. Up-cycling is cool. Sustainability is cool. It’s only natural that rescuing pets would become cool, too. In the most basic sense, the euthanization of so many healthy animals is an awful, tragic waste. But in a deeper, more important sense, people who rescue are saving lives, both of the dogs they adopt, and the ones who they’ve made space for at the shelter.
2. People want to give back to their communities.
Adopting a dog is a win-win all around: you get a pet, a dog gets a home, and as mentioned above, your local shelter can then care for another dog. Plus, as more dogs are saved from the streets, stray populations are kept at bay.
3. Let's face it: You get bragging rights
Everyone loves a good underdog story! So when someone stops to inquire about the origin of your beautiful mystery-mix dog, you get to tell them how she escaped abandonment and death because you came to her rescue.
4. There's been an increase of "dog culture in the media
“Dog culture” is booming. There are tons of sites, pages, and magazines dedicated to our love of canines. If you’ve seen a touching rescue story—and you have a pulse—chances are, you’ve gotten the urge to save a furry life, yourself. And we dog lovers yearn for that ultimate gratification: a pup’s soulful gaze, filled with gratitude and pure love.
5. …And this has led to an awareness of puppy mills and irresponsible breeders
Along with our unquenchable thirst for dog stories comes awareness of abuse and neglect, sparking discussions about animal welfare. With that, the horrors of puppy mills and irresponsible breeders have been unveiled. However, it must be noted that there are responsible breeders out there. To help decrease the overpopulation of pups, as well as breeding demand, many people have opted to adopt from shelters or breed rescues instead of purchasing from pet stores or breeders.
6. Pet posting are all over social media
There’s no better way to spread a “trend” than through social media. If you scroll through your feed, you’re bound to see a ton of pet postings, whether they’re from pup-loving celebs like Ricky Gervais or Kaley Cuoco, or your high school classmate who you haven’t talked to in years. A good portion of the postings are most likely mutts and rescues. Who wouldn’t want to jump on that bandwagon?!
7. Growing empathy for dogs
Dogs have come to be considered furry family members rather than pets. Maybe it’s because rescue stories have touched so many hearts, making people impassioned about animal rights. Or maybe it’s because people have come to realize that they’re not the only ones who love their dog like it’s their child. Either way, when we empathize with our canine counterparts, it hurts us to see them suffering. Perhaps it’s this connection between people and pups that make us want to rescue and love as many dogs as we can.