Christa and Moose

Christa Bugg and her dog, Moose.

Jan. 25, 2019, was the start of a new chapter in, and arguably one of the best days of, my life. Six years after the loss of our beloved family dog, we finally decided to adopt a puppy.

Around the holidays, many shelters usually have campaigns to “clear the shelter” and find all of the animals their forever homes in time for the new year. In order to do so, they often waive the adoption fees for all animals. If fees to adopt a pet are something that is holding potential owners back, the holidays are the perfect time to visit the shelter.

While we missed out on the waived fees since the holidays had passed, we drove about an hour to the Atlanta Humane Society anyway. We had seen several puppies online. When we got there, one caught my eye and the search ended immediately.

This light brown pup with a white stripe down his nose, neck and even down to his white paws stole my heart instantly. My mom and I signed the adoption papers frantically, fielding off other families who wanted to adopt my dog.

After much deliberation, I decided that his name was “Moose.”


Moose as a puppy. 

In hindsight, I am so glad that the family with two young children that pulled on my shirt to hold Moose didn’t adopt him. Alongside the indescribable joy and cuteness that surrounded Moose, there also came uncontrollable nipping and peeing all over the house. This brought semi-joking threats from my mom to send him back if he didn’t stop biting her. While I was up for the challenge, it's at this point where many people go wrong when adopting pets.


Moose walks toward the camera. 

Although I did adopt Moose following the holidays, it wasn't an impulsive holiday decision. After months of consideration, I knew I was ready to open my heart to another pet. I was ready for the training, time and patience I would need to raise him. I persevered because I understood the task I had undertaken, and he was mine now.

Over the holidays, many people adopt puppies, dogs, cats and plenty of other pets. After the excitement wears off and the responsibility sinks in, thousands of these holiday animals get sent back to the shelter. This is a huge problem, within the the holiday season and all year long.

In fact, The Red & Black reported that there was an increase of ownership surrenders in the month of November in Athens. Many people adopted pets over the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic when they were working virtually, and now that they have to go back to work, the pet is inconvenient.

Society is so stuck on instant gratification and convenience, that we think an animal deemed inconvenient does not deserve to remain in our home. We think that inconvenient animals do not deserve our patience, time and love. But they do!

If I ever see a dog running in the road, a cat roaming my neighborhood or even an injured bird in the grass, my instinct is to try and help. I understand that not everyone feels that way, but my compulsion is so strong that it is difficult for me to sympathize.

Can you imagine spending 30 days in a cage, alone, with no one who loves you? What about an entire year? Many animals wait much longer than that, waiting in a cage for their forever home. Most tragically, some never make it out of that cage or find homes. More Perfect Union reports that the number of pet deaths at PetSmart since 2015 more than doubled from between 2008 to 2014 after private equity firm BC Partners acquired the pet store.

Even though Moose hadn’t been in the shelter for more than a few days, when I had to put him back in his cage while we signed the adoption papers, his heartbroken cry almost brought me to tears. He was skin and bones, and he just wanted somebody to love him.

Just short of three years later, Moose and I are attached at the hip. He is loving, goofy and loves to ride in the car. He is an amazing big brother to my son and a natural protector. He’s also a drama king who loves to cuddle.

There are thousands of animals in shelters just like Moose. All they want is somebody to love — somebody to be their person. All you have to do is give them a chance.

This December, don’t adopt a pet just to be trendy or for your Instagram feed. If you’re going to adopt, acknowledge the responsibility and open yourself up to loving an animal.

They will change your life just as much as you will change theirs.

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