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“Shameless” Star Emma Kenney Says Adopt, Don’t Buy Your Next Pet

Photo: Courtesy of Leo Deveney

What got you started in advocating for animals?

I’ve always connected with animals ever since I was young. I grew up with three cats and a sweet dog. Now, as an adult, I have adopted two pups of my own. The animal advocacy just kind of happened naturally out of my love for animals and my belief in protecting and standing up for beings that can’t stand up for themselves.

I know that you often use your social platforms to raise awareness for animals that need homes and animal rights in general. What kind of response have you seen to this, and what kind of impact has it had?

That goes back to me wanting to help animals because they can’t help themselves. I have this great platform and audience that allows me to do so on a larger scale. If I have the ability to make a difference with my social media — even a small one — then I want to use that power to help whenever I can. I’m not sure if I’ve ever had any impact, but every time I post, my hope is always to help, whether that be just by spreading awareness about a cause or helping an animal find a home.
What are some common myths about adopting a pet from a shelter?

[That] they’re not cute or clean or they won’t form a special connection with you. Both of my dogs are shelter pups and they are the cutest things in the world! They are so spoiled and have bonded to me so weirdly. They are like my actual children. I am a strong believer in adopt, don’t shop. There’s nothing like the feeling of rescuing an animal from the shelter and showing them a loving and safe home and spoiling the crap out of them and knowing you took them out of a terrible situation and changed their life. 
What would you say to encourage readers to get involved in thinking about adoption or volunteering for an adoption center?

Adopt, don’t shop, always! Adoption gives animals a second chance at life and helps fight puppy mills, which are horribly inhumane. And if that isn’t encouraging enough, you will also save a lot of money adopting an animal from a shelter, as opposed to buying a designer dog. Adoption fees are very affordable and the shelters spay/neuter and vaccinate all of the animals. 

That’s also a great reason why you should volunteer at an adoption center. They do the best they can to keep adoption fees as low as possible to make sure all the animals can find forever homes — so they really rely on volunteers to help run the day-to-day care of the animals and facilities.
For people who maybe can’t go out and volunteer or don’t have the time, what else can they do to advocate for animal rights and pet adoption?

Even if you can’t volunteer yourself, you can still be an advocate for animal rights. Little things as simple as encouraging your friends and family to adopt and not shop if you hear they are thinking about getting a pet makes a difference. 

Also, if you don’t have the time to go out and volunteer at a shelter but you still want to get involved, fostering could be a great opportunity. Opening your home to an animal temporarily while the adoption center finds them a family helps free up space for them to bring in more animals. 
What else would you like to share?

My socials! Twitter is @emmarosekenney and Instagram is @emmakenney. 

If your dog ever runs away or you find a cat that needs a home, tag me. I’m notorious for sharing that kind of stuff. I’ll try to help spread the word.

Staff, [email protected]

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