Guest column: Looking for love? Consider getting a shelter dog!

Christina Miller, pictured above with Patrick, recommends adopting dogs from shelters.

If you or your family are thinking about purchasing a puppy, please consider adopting your new pet from a local shelter or rescue instead.

Almost 100 percent of puppies sold in pet stores are from puppy mills or substandard puppy factories. These breeding facilities are licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) with minimal care standards.  Dogs living in USDA facilities are considered livestock and it is legal for them to be treated like a commodity, such as cattle or pigs.  Dogs are viewed as breeding stock and forced to get pregnant at every heat cycle. A dog’s cage needs to be only 6 inches greater than the length of their body and often they are subjected to harsh and inhumane conditions.

As long as the public keeps buying puppies from these mills, profit and maximizing productivity will win out over the health and welfare of these animals. Most reputable breeders will not sell puppies to pet stores or online. There are many advantages when adopting a shelter dog. Most have been house trained. You don’t have to guess what your puppy will look like or what its temperament might be once it grows up. Designer dogs can cost upwards of $1,000. Shelter dogs can be taken home for a nominal fee.  Shelter dogs come microchipped, neutered, groomed and have had a visit to a local veterinarian. Best of all, these dogs are desperate for their own home and once they find one, they will be a loving and devoted companion for life.

I know because I adopted Patrick, a 5 year old terrier mix, a year and a half ago. Best decision I have made in a long time. He is my best buddy and in our travels together, we have explored areas of Seal Beach that I never knew existed. So, this month—when love is in the air—or any day of the year, rather than shopping at a puppy mill, stop by your local shelter and visit all the amazing dogs (and cats) you will find there. You and your family will be rewarded with a forever friend.

—Christina Miller is a Seal Beach Animal Care Center volunteer and resident of College Park East, Seal Beach. The shelter is located at 1700 Adolfo Lopez Dr., Seal Beach.