You’ve got the job of your dreams,  you’re officially out of mom and dad’s house, and now you might be considering adding a furry friend to your home.  Although you might want that adorable little Chihuahua from the pet store,  have you considered adopting a pet? Not only does adopting a dog give back to an animal in need, but it has other notable benefits.

Gail Buchwald, Senior Vice President of the ASPCA Adoption Center, is answering all your adopting concerns and questions. She speaks out on everything from puppy mills to ways you can give back to a shelter near you!

What steps should be taken before adopting a pet?

It takes research and careful planning to bring the right pet into your home, and to make sure your lifestyle is the right one for your pet. You should think about what type of pet you want, how much time you can devote to caring for your new pet, roommate or household situations, your financial stability, if you have any health issues or allergies to certain types of animals, if you’re living space is adequate for a new pet, and most of all, why you want a pet in the first place.

Can you explain puppy mills and why adopting is a safer alternative?

Puppy mills are large-scale breeding operations whose primary concern is making money, not the welfare of the animals. Often, the puppies that come from mills are sick, as they are not provided with adequate medical care, and their parents are kept in horrifying conditions with no access to human interaction, exercise or healthcare. Puppies that are for sale at most pet stores are from puppy mills, and  buying from them only further perpetuates this terrible business. When you adopt from the ASPCA, we can tell you information about the animal’s behavior and personality, match you with a pet who is a good match for you based on more than looks, and we are always fully transparent as to the health of our animals. Our animals also are spayed/neutered, microchipped, and up to date on all of their vaccinations.

Have pet adoptions increased over the past few years?

Due partially to the falling economy, pet adoptions in New York City were down 5-10% in 2011. Everyone is struggling, but we are hoping that people open their hearts and adopt a new pet this year.

Is adopting a pet a cheaper alternative when adding a pet into your home?

Purchasing a puppy from a pet store that gets their dogs from puppy mills can cost upwards of $2,000, sometimes more! Adopting is most often a much more affordable option, and at the ASPCA, every pet that gets adopted from our shelter is up to date on their vaccinations, has a microchip and is already spayed/neutered, which can save the adopter a lot of money.

Is it important to research your shelter before you consider adoption?

There are many options if a potential pet parent wants to adopt. We encourage you to visit your local animal shelter or rescue organizations and talk to them about any questions or concerns you may have. They should be more than happy to talk you through the process, and address any concerns.

Since the poor economy, have overcrowding issues in shelters become a growing problem? If so how can our readers help combat this problem?

The best way to combat overcrowding is to adopt! If  bringing home a new pet isn’t an option, volunteering at the local shelter, or donating supplies such as blankets or toys will help make a positive difference in the animals lives who are living at the shelter until they find a good home.

For more information check out the ASPCA website or get “pet-spired” with my very own rescue-shelter pet website.