STAFF OPINION: Choose to save a life

By Marek Corsello | February 6, 2021 12:23pm

Beacon photographer Marek Corsello with his dog Stan. Photo courtesy of Marek Corsello.

Think of your best friend. Most loyal, lovable, and trustworthy friend. The one who never fails to put a smile on your face. Am I the only one that thought of a four-legged friend? Throughout my life, my family has always had adopted rescue dogs that we have held close to our hearts. Two of those dogs we got from nonprofits who take dogs from shelters that would have killed them. One came from a puppy mill that was shut down by the State of Washington. Another was a stray who was malnourished, scared, and probably would have been killed had we not had the opportunity to adopt her.     

There is something special about loving a pet that came from bad circumstances. We have the power to change an animal’s life by choosing to adopt.

Wednesday was a stray before she was adopted by Marek's family.

by Marek Corsello / The Beacon

Knowing that you saved a pet’s life is such an incredible feeling. To think that the dogs my family have loved and adored would have been killed had we not chosen to adopt them is overwhelming. My family has adopted young dogs that were alone, scared, and confused. We gave them our unconditional love and over time they transformed into happy animals.  

When looking to get a dog, often people decide on a specific breed and purchase a puppy from a breeder or a pet store. They start the process of getting a dog knowing exactly what age, size, personality, and look they want. They won’t accept any other dog. Inevitably, this leads to dogs who are not wanted at all. A better way to get a pet is to adopt one from a shelter. Normally people don’t adopt because they want a puppy or a purebred. However, I challenge us all to adopt. If you’re thinking about getting a pet, before anything else, look for dogs up for adoption.    

There will never be a time when you look at pets up for adoption and find none. Every year, it’s estimated that more than one million adoptable dogs and cats are put to sleep in the United States. We can change this by choosing to adopt these pets. Adopting a rescue pet doesn’t just save that animal’s life, it actually saves more than one. By adopting, you’re helping make space for another animal in the shelter and giving them a new opportunity to find a family as well.

The idea that when you adopt a pet from a shelter you are likely to get a pet that is dirty or has behavior issues is not true. Most shelter pets wound up there because of a human problem like a move or a divorce, not because they did anything wrong. All of the adopted dogs I have seen looked dirty and out of place at first, but that was not at all a reflection of their personalities underneath.  

This is Stanley, a Maltese Shih Tzu mix. A nonprofit transported him from California to Washington where he was adopted by Marek and his family.
by Marek Corsello / The Beacon

You’re probably looking at the picture on the left of Stanley thinking “look at that why would I want to adopt a gross looking out of shape dog”? That is exactly what I challenge us to stray away from. No strong relationship comes fast, with both our relationships with humans and pets. At first Stanley may not have been the cutest dog, but look at how he transformed thanks to my family having patience. There is nothing more valuable than that transformation. 

Maybe you don’t want to adopt because you’d rather buy a puppy? As adorable as a puppy may be, turns out the breeding business is a lot less cute. Truth is, most breeders don’t care about the dogs at all, they only care about profits. In most states, commercial breeding kennels can legally keep hundreds of dogs in cages their entire lives, for the sole purpose of continuously pumping puppies out to sell. Don’t be fooled, pet stores also get their puppies from these types of puppy mills as well. The conditions at these mills are overcrowded and animals are malnourished, ignored, and don’t receive veterinary care when sick. Puppies are torn from their mothers at an early age, and their mothers are continuously bred until they physically can’t.

Andy was a Shar Pei mix from a puppy mill that was shut down by the state of Washington. He was taken in by a nonprofit and adopted by Marek's family.

by Marek Corsello / The Beacon

In addition, buying pets rather than adopting very often results in scams and disappointed buyers. Law enforcement and consumer advocates now say a person searching online for a new pet is extremely likely to encounter a scam listing or website. While pet scams have been prevalent in the past, the increase in online pet purchases due to COVID-19 have given pet scammers even more practice and tools to deceive. At the current pace, pet scams reported to the Better Business Bureau will be nearly five times as many as in 2017. Many of these scams include: paying for dogs that they never received, receiving puppies that are not what they ordered, and sellers that disappear after the dog is shipped. It is easy for a seller to appear humane and responsible online. It’s as easy as going to any web browser, looking up “cute puppies”, and taking images and videos that come up.     

On top of all this, adopting a pet is also cheaper. The initial costs of adopting a dog from a shelter can be significantly lower than the costs associated with buying a breeder. You end up paying less money for a deal that is much less likely to be a scam. 

Instead of expecting perfect puppies to be sent to your door today, realize that dogs are imperfect just like humans. Meet the dog half way and learn to love each dog for who they are. Trust me, learning to accept each dog for who they are will make you much happier with them. Dogs DO have personalities. When looking to adopt a dog, be open to all types. Welcome all different breeds, ages, and personalities into your home. Don’t just limit yourself to one breed. Doing this not only amplifies your love for each dog that comes into your life, but it also teaches us to appreciate other humans more.

Stanley (left) and Draper are both adopted dogs.

by Marek Corsello / The Beacon

I have learned so much from my adopted rescue dogs. They have taught me to be patient, forgiving, and have shown me what unconditional love looks like. I can’t say that I would have gotten the same experience if they came from a breeder or a mill. So, if you are looking for a new pet please consider adopting. You might just find your new best friend.

Marek Corsello is a photographer for The Beacon. He can be reached at

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