Every day, I see posts on social media stating “Adopt, Don’t Shop”. But what if adopting isn’t for you? Or, how can you decide between adopting and purchasing from a responsible breeder?
Let me start off by saying I have five adopted animals and one bought from a reputable conservation breeder. I believe both adopting and “shopping” are important. Adopting gives an animal a second chance at finding happiness in a home, and purchasing a pet may be the best way to get a pet that fits your exact needs. Animal shelters and rescues take pets out of bad situations, or they help animals that have been surrendered by their owners find good homes. Responsible breeders do what they do out of love for the breed, and strive to produce the healthiest animals possible, usually without ever making a profit from their litters.
Deciding you want to bring a pet into your family can be exciting. If you are looking to bypass the puppy or kitten stage, have no specific jobs for the pet to perform, or are just looking to help out an animal in need, start at your local shelters and rescues. There you will find dogs and cats of all shapes and sizes, ready for a new home. The workers will usually be able to give you a brief description of the animals personalities, and advise you on whether any particular pet would or would not be a good fit for your family. Some of these animals aren’t always in top physical shape, and that is something to consider when deciding which one to bring home. If you can’t find your next furry friend immediately, don’t feel bad! It’s better to pass over an animal because of a bad fit than to take it home out of guilt, only to have to surrender it at a later date because things just weren’t working out. Take your time, talk to the workers and the people fostering the pets. You will have to fill out an application and sign a contract with the shelter or rescue before taking possession of your new pet, and adoption fees vary by agency.
If adopting a pet of a reasonably unknown background makes you nervous, if you need your pet to perform special tasks, if you have a certain breed in mind that just isn’t showing up in shelters, or if you are looking for a specific personality with defined capabilities, finding a responsible breeder is probably your best bet. Responsible breeders perform health checks on all their mating pairs, testing for genetic and physical flaws before allowing them to mate. These breeders are also breeding for evenness in their animals, which basically means similar personalities throughout all their litters. But how do you find a responsible breeder, when so many people are called out for being backyard breeders and puppy mills? Simple. Find owners of the breed you are interested in. Talk to everyone about who they recommend, and make a list of breeders to call. Call the breeders and ask about their practices. How many times do they allow their dogs to mate before retiring them as pets, and what health checks do they perform are both great questions to start with. Other questions will pertain to the breed and what they are looking for when they choose mating pairs, which is more of a personal aspect for you to reflect upon. You will have to fill out a contract with your breeder, which is normally more detailed than an adoption contract. Read it over, and make sure you are willing to abide by the terms laid out in the contract. Pets purchased from breeders are almost always more expensive than adopted pets. This is because the breeders are paying for health screenings for the parents, food for the puppies or kittens once they begin to wean, and vet care for all the animals involved in the litter without the discounts and donations available to rescues and shelters.
Whatever you decide, make sure it is the right decision for you and your family. Don’t let a slogan keep you from purchasing the pet of your dreams because you worry over backlash or harsh comments from others. You know what you want in a pet and whatever decision you make, whether it be to adopt a homeless pet or purchase a pet from a breeder, all that matters is that you get a pet that is a good fit with your family and you are happy with your decision.
What are your thoughts on “Adopt, dont shop”? What decision did you make when choosing a new pet? Let us know in the comments!