I have always been raised surrounded by shelter animals: animals who, without my family's love, might have eventually been put down.

This is the difference between a shelter pet and one that has been purchased. Shelter pets are often discounted or looked over because they don't have the right "aesthetic". They usually aren't the purebred golden retrievers you see on Instagram, or the fancy show dogs you'll see in the arms of a celebrity on a gossip site.

They're mutts, mixed breeds, and sometimes older...but that doesn't mean they don't deserve your love.

I've been approached by several of my friends lately bragging about the purebred they paid hundreds to thousands of dollars for, and it always makes me sad. Shelters often become overcrowded all over the country with pets that are put down solely for the reason that there might not be any room for them, while Instagram accounts are created for a glamorous new corgi someone paid $3,000 for. Doesn't that seem a little off?

I don't want to offend anyone who has welcomed a dog into their home, because maybe, if you've purchased a dog in the past, you didn't know what the shelter system was like. There are so many misconceptions with shelter pets: that you can't train them, that they're violent, that you can't adopt one young enough to fit your family. The reality with shelter pets is that you can get what you want, if you search hard enough, and it's all the more worth it.

We don't talk about shelter pets enough, and #adoptdontshop doesn't trend as well as #maltipoo or #goldendoodle does. We need to talk about shelter pets more, though, and about how much they can enrich your lives when you give them a chance. Why not rescue a pet that will forever see you as their hero, and give you the same love⁠— if not more love⁠— a purchased dog will give?

Think about it. #AdoptDontShop.