Each year an estimated 2.7 million pets are euthanized simply because there was no more room for them in the shelter, according to the Humane Society. These numbers can be significantly reduced if more people adopted a pet. Welcoming a pet into the family comes with benefits for both the owner and the pet. The statement “man’s best friend” has proven true for many content pet owners. Adopting a pet is less expensive than buying one from a pet store. Most shelters ask for a low cost adoption fee to cover the costs of the food and board. Some may even include the first vaccination and a discounted price for micro-chip and spay or neuter. The Laredo Animal Protective Society (LAPS) together with Wellness of Wheels, a mobile veterinary clinic, provides vaccinations and other pet health services for an affordable price. Opting to adopt a pet from a shelter helps reduce businesses for puppy mills. Puppy mills are factory-style breeding businesses, and some even keep the puppies in poor conditions. Such mills usually keep the mother dog in a cage to be bred over and over again without any companionship. These business thrive in pet stores, flea markets, and online through classified ads. According to psychologists at Miami University and St. Louis University, the emotional benefits of pet ownership can be equal to those of human friendship. Alfredo Bondoc, a father and owner of three pets encourages parents to adopt a pet for their child. “Pets are not only great companions, but they teach responsibility, too. It’s a great way to teach your kids how to care for another’s physical and emotional needs.” The study also finds that pet owners’ physical fitness improves, possibly from walking their dogs. The social status attached to purebred pets should not influence your choice of pet. Discrimination against mixed-breeds is one of the reasons many people will not think to look in their local animal shelter when choosing a pet. The misconception of shelter animals having “something wrong with them” is invalid. Most pets wound up at the shelter because they were abandoned or they strayed from home. The care providers at the shelter provide any medical needs to the pet when they take him in, so that he is healthy and ready to be adopted. When a person makes the decision to take a pet home from a shelter, they give another animal a chance to survive. By adopting one, space was made for another to live in the shelter without having to be euthanized. After making the decision to welcome a pet into the home, spaying and neutering them is highly enforced. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, neutering the males prevents testicular cancer and some prostate problems. Spaying prevents uterine infections and breast tumors, which are more malignant in 50 per cent of dogs and 90 per cent of cats. Spaying and neutering also controls homelessness crisis. Adopting a furry friend has its benefits. It saves their lives, does not contribute to puppy mills, and it is more affordable. Ownership promotes responsibility and has psychological and physical benefits, as well. It is important to follow up with the health and physical needs of the pet, so vaccinations and spaying or neutering must be up to date. For additional information on how to adopt shelter pets, visit LAPS located at 2500 Gonzalez St. or call (956) 724-8364.