Part of the American dream sequence often referenced when thinking of the future, along with the white picket fence, a great job, and a loving family, includes having a pet.

In the U.S. alone, there are nearly 80 million households that claim to own a pet, according to a 2016 survey run by APPA. While this statistic should be a happy one, there are many animals in the U.S. that don’t have a home, and sometimes never find a home. Pet adoption centers have tried to combat this issue, rescuing dogs and cats and sometimes offering foster care systems until a pet can go to a good home. Even with the slight rise in popularity of pet adoption in the U.S., pets purchased from a breeder or a puppy mill still see high percentage rates.

It’s important that the trend to adopt pets from a rescue or a shelter remains on the rise, and here, I’ll explain why.

Reason #1: Adopting a pet from a shelter or rescue helps the community.

Rescue shelters, such as TheAnimalRescueSite.com, states in their blog that they provide, “food and vital care for some of the eight million unwanted animals given to shelters every year in the U.S.” The catastrophic fact that around 8 million animals are essentially homeless, can lead to stray dogs and cats that are malnourished and can carry disease since they are not cared for, often breeding when they are unhealthy, creating even more homeless animals.

If you adopt from a rescue or a shelter, you are literally saving a life.

Reason #2: Adopting a pet from a shelter or rescue can improve your health.

A great article from The Huffington Post revealed 12 ways that adopting a pet can improve your mental health. A few of the top health improvements seen by new adopters of animals include lessening loneliness, keeping you distracted yet present in order to reduce stress, giving the owner a newfound sense of purpose, improving mental health, and of course giving you unconditional love.

If you’ve adopted an active animal, or an animal that needs to be more active, this can actually force you to be outside and exercise more, ultimately improving boosting physical and mental health.

Reason 3: Adopting a pet from a shelter or rescue can improve an animal’s health.

Recent studies show that keeping animals locked in crates and cages can temporarily drive them insane. This report shares the following. “Researchers from the University of Bristol’s Anthrozoology Institute recently examined videotapes of 30 police-trained German shepherds as they spent time in their kennels after work. What they found was that the animals showed tell-tale signs of extreme stress and even temporary mental illness.”

Giving these animals the proper space that they need to stay mentally healthy will significantly improve their life and their happiness.

Reason #4: Adopting a pet from a shelter or rescue can take business away from places like puppy mills.

So-called designer dogs are bred in puppy mills and by breeders who want to cash in on giving people “the perfect dog.” Often times, dogs are overbred at a young age and then discarded, auctioned off, sold or even killed when they can no longer reproduce puppies. These dogs are kept in terrible conditions and when puppy mills become overcrowded, the breeding dogs and the puppies are at risk for mistreatment, neglect, illness, and injury.

A glimmer of hope in puppy mill rescue initiative came in 2007, when The National Mill Dog Rescue was formed. To read about their incredible story, click here.

While you may have the idea of the perfect pet in your head, keep in mind that there are millions of animals who are looking for nothing but love, companionship, and a home. By adopting a pet, you will be doing your part to help make the world a better place.