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Approximately 7.6 million animals enter shelters each year, but less than a third of those animals get adopted. That results in 2.7 million dogs and cats being euthanized each year in America, according to the ASPCA. That’s 2.7 million animals that have had their lives cut short for no reason other than there was no room for them.

Fortunately, there is a way to change these statistics. More and more counties and cities are creating bans that prohibit pet stores from selling commercially bred puppies. At least 59 cities and counties currently have these bans, including 38 in Florida. If pet stores in these areas want to sell dogs, they have to sell rescues.

Unfortunately, the adorable puppies you see at pet stores usually come from puppy mills: large-scale commercial dog-breeding companies that value profit over the well-being of the dogs. Puppy mill dogs often suffer from stress, illness, disease and hereditary problems due to their crowded, unsanitary conditions. These bans on pet store stocks should be adopted nationwide. There is no logical reason why companies breed dogs while there are perfectly good ones waiting at shelters.

Judy Sarullo, executive director of Pet Rescue By Judy, agrees.

“There are so many abandoned animals and [such] an overpopulation of animals, it seems irresponsible to raise them for profit when the need is already so great,” she said. “A ban would mean the animals here would not have to compete with for-profit animals and more animals would be rescued.”

Carolina Devine, public relations coordinator at Orange County Animal Services, also emphasizes the animal overpopulation problem.

“When someone chooses to adopt an animal, as opposed to going to a pet store or breeder, they are saving a life, opening up a space in the shelter and helping us combat the pet overpopulation problem in our community,” she said.

All of the pets I have owned have been rescues, from my dog to my two cats and even my rabbit. Until pet stores in your area are banned from selling commercially bred animals, I urge you to adopt from a shelter.

“Our shelter receives an average of 53 pets every single day. Unfortunately, we do not have 53 people adopting every day, which means there are more homeless pets than there are homes,” Devine said. “We encourage everyone to adopt or rescue a pet, as there are so many great pets in need of a home.”

Imagine a world where every animal is happy, healthy and safe. According to the Humane Society, if just one of every five Americans wanting to add a pet to their family in the next year adopted from a shelter or rescue, not one single healthy cat or dog would lose its life in a shelter. This can become a reality if there was a nationwide ban on pet stores selling commercially bred animals.

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Isabelle D'Antonio is a Contributing Columnist for the Central Florida Future. 

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