The Adopt Don’t Shop campaign began as an effort to bring awareness to the plight of homeless animals and encourage potential pet owners to seek out their furry friends in shelters rather than through pet stores.

Laura Romaniello / art director

Laura Romaniello / art director

While there are several reasons to adopt your next pet, one of the biggest ones is to avoid supporting and inadvertently endorsing commercial breeding facilities — puppy mills.

Approximately 95 percent of puppies living in pet stores come from puppy mills.

Puppy mills are large, factory-style breeding operations that put making a profit above the wellbeing of their dogs.

Dogs at these properties are kept in shockingly poor condition with improper access to food, drinking water, human interaction or veterinary care.

Dogs from puppy mills are often very sick, behaviorally troubled and poorly socialized as a result.

Puppy mills continue to stay in business through multiple deceptive tactics.

National pet stores that sell puppies go to great lengths to advertise that their dogs come from reputable breeders, but it has been proven time and time again that this is not the case.

Purchasing a dog from a pet store helps to fund these puppy mills.

By adopting a pet, you will free up space in animal shelters for another homeless animal hoping to find a forever home.

Laura Romaniello / art director

Laura Romaniello / art director

You will also gain a great companion, as most shelter animals are loving, friendly and looking for someone to take them home.

Additionally, adoption fees are much less than the cost of purchasing a pet, and many animals come vaccinated, tested for life-threatening diseases, treated for parasites, microchipped and spayed or neutered.

Whether you’re looking for a high-energy, running partner or a snuggly, feline friend, adoption centers are eager to help you find your perfect furry companion.

Near Keene, you can find your next four-legged member of your family at several facilities, including the Monadnock Humane Society in Swanzey, the Windham County Humane Society in Brattleboro, the Cocker Spaniel Rescue of New England in Greenfield and the Fast Friends Greater Adoption Center in Swanzey.

By adopting, you’ll change a homeless animal’s entire world and get a new best friend in the process.

The next time you’re looking for a new companion, help spread the message…Adopt, don’t shop!

Lindsay Gibbons can be contacted at lgibbons@kscequinox.com