We are a nation of pet lovers. Polls show that 62 percent of American households have pets and 92 percent of those consider their pets to be part of the family. Nowhere is that more evident than in Los Angeles, where dogs ride shotgun or jog alongside their owners and cats laze in sunny windowsills across the city. Owning a cat or dog not only enriches our lives, studies show that doing so can produce health benefits such as reduced stress and lowered blood pressure.

Power in numbers

While polls indicate a majority of pet owners believe shelters should only be allowed to euthanize pets that are too sick or injured to be treated, or too aggressive to be safely adopted to the public, sadly, only about 25 percent of families that will acquire a pet in 2015 will adopt from a shelter or rescue.

"Over 9,000 dogs and cats are dying every day in U.S. shelters. This tragic number could be zero, if people would choose to adopt instead of purchasing from a breeder or pet store, which usually acquire puppies and kittens from pet mills."

Meanwhile, 9,000 dogs and cats are dying every day in U.S. shelters. This tragic number could be zero, if people would choose to adopt instead of purchasing from a breeder or pet store, which usually acquire puppies and kittens from pet mills.

The case for adoption

The city of Los Angeles has taken a strong stance against allowing mill pets from being sold at stores, enacting humane ordinances that require businesses to supply dogs and cats from adoptions from local rescues or shelters. Innovative programs such as this have made pet adoption easier than ever.

Adoption is also the most cost-effective option, as shelter and rescue pets are fixed, micro-chipped, vaccinated, and ready to go home immediately for one all-inclusive, affordable price.

Your choice matters

So, when you’re ready to find your new four-legged best friend, visit your local shelter, rescue or humane pet store first. There you’ll meet a team of experienced staff and volunteers who know the pets in their care. They are eager to help you find the perfect match for your lifestyle.

By doing so, you save two lives: The pet you take home, as well as the pet that now has space at the shelter and a second chance at a new beginning.

Together, we can save them all.