How adopting a pet changed my life

Cristina Costa’s little dog Rico, a white Teacup Havanese and Maltese mix, jumps onto her lap.

“I’ve had a dog or cat since I was nine, so caring for one comes natural to me,” Costa says.

The three of us are sitting on the couch in Costa’s Mississauga apartment. Rico then climbs onto my lap and curls into a ball. I run my hands through his curly coat as he starts to doze off.

“I decided to get a dog because at the time I was living alone. Sometimes it felt lonely and I felt it would be nice to have a dog around to fill the void of feeling alone at times.”

Costa is a firm advocate for adopting from a shelter instead of a breeder, because she feels that animals living in shelters need the most help.

“Shelters usually have abandoned animals, animals whose homes didn’t work out, or other issues. I personally believe in giving one of these animals a loving home first over breeders. I like the idea of saving the animal and giving it the best it deserves.”

small white dog

Costa found Rico at the Mississauga Humane Society when he was just a few months old.

“I just knew, it just felt right when I saw him. He didn’t belong there, and I didn’t know ultimately what was going to happen to him, so I had to leave with him.”

Bianca Bottos shares Costa’s feelings on the matter. Bottos adopted her cat, Mia, from the Toronto Humane Society.

“We went to an adoption event one weekend, and they had a litter of kittens that had been dropped off anonymously at the shelter. There was maybe four from what I recall, all of them were black and white minus one of them,” Bottos says.

Calico cat

A calico with bright green eyes immediately captured their attention.

“After a few minutes of playing with her, my mom just decided out of the blue to adopt her, and that’s how Mia came into our lives.”

Bottos says that adopting a pet has also brought her family closer together.

“My sister and I have never been super close, but since adopting Mia, she can sometimes be the reason we hang out or talk to each other. I don’t exactly know what it is, but she just simply brings us together.”

Makyla Deleo, public relations specialist at the Toronto Humane Society, says that adopting an animal is the best option for finding a lifelong companion, and there are numerous reasons to adopt rather than shop.

“In shelters where animals are at risk of euthanasia you may literally be a life-saver when you bring home a companion,” she says. “Adoption also opens up a kennel space where your pet once resided, meaning a new animal in need can be brought in from the cold and you end up saving two lives instead of one!”

The society has a wide selection of animals and critters, including cats and dogs, but also rabbits, turtles and birds. Deleo reiterates that there is no need to choose purchasing a pet over adoption.

Bottos feels the same way. “I would never consider a breeder. I already know there are so many cats, dogs and other species at shelters and at the humane society that deserve a chance for a wonderful life and I feel like some people don’t even bother to look at those places to begin with.”

Both Costa and Bottos believe that pets can have a huge positive effect on their owner’s mental health.

“Even though my cat isn’t supper cuddly or will stay on my lap all the time, something about having her casually walk into my room when I’m not having the best day gets me so happy,” Bottos says. “No matter the pet, I feel like if you have a strong love and connection to that animal they will transform your mood and your energy which can be so beneficial.”

“Dogs feed off of people’s energy and they are such smart animals,” Costa says. “They are excited when you are happy, and they comfort you when you are sad. They are loyal and by your side till the end. They become a part of your family.”

By the time our conversation is over, Rico is fast asleep in my lap, safe and sound.

If you’re interested in adopting a pet, make sure to check out your local humane society or shelter. For a place to start, try

Hi there! My name is Gaby Gonzalez and I am a 4th year journalism major at the University of Guelph-Humber. After graduating I am looking into working in broadcast, with my dream job being to work for CNN as a news anchor in the future. Growing up in a Spanish-speaking household, I learned to speak the language from a young age as well as going to French immersion school for 13 years, making me trilingual. During the winter I enjoy snowboarding with my big sister and friends (preferably in the rocky mountains in Banff). Another important part of my life is my beagle Max, who my parents got me for my 18th birthday.

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