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Blog the Change – Don’t Shop, Adopt

January 14, 2012 28 comments

Blog the Change

Blog the Change is a chance for bloggers to write about something they are passionate about. I am passionate about a lot of animal welfare-related issues, but always at the top of my list are pet adoption and stopping puppy mills. Having adopted a puppy mill dog, a former pet store puppy (who also came from a mill) and a rescue from a hoarder, I tend to be a little confused by people who choose to buy a dog from a pet store when they can adopt a loving pet AND save a life at the same time.

I thought I would address some of the common reason why people choose to buy a dog instead of adopt and address them head on.

1. I don’t want a shelter dog. There must be a good reason that someone gave them up. They must have behavior problems.

The reality is that many of the dogs sitting in shelters don’t have huge behavioral issues. Having volunteered at a shelter for 8 years, I can tell you that one of the most common reasons a dog was surrendered at a shelter were moving and financial difficulties. We also had dogs that were surrendered because the owner died or had cancer.

Did we occasionally have those dogs who needed more training? Yes. And, we worked with them. Some of the best dogs that left our shelter were dogs that came in with little training and let us with set of skills that impressed many an adopter.

2. I want a puppy.

Lots of people want puppies. They’re cute, they’re funny and they’re fun. I am always surprised when people assume they can’t find a puppy at a shelter. So not the case! We got puppies all of the time at our shelter. Big puppies. Little puppies. Purebreed puppies. Mixed puppies.

They almost always get adopted quickly, but if you watch a shelter or rescue’s website on a regular basis, you will see an announcement about new puppies that are available for adoption. Why not save a puppy from a possible death by adopting one vs. buying one?

3. I want a purebreed dog.

This one actually makes me laugh. Not because I think it’s funny that someone didn’t know that they could find a purebreed dog at a shelter or through a rescue, but because I’ve almost always gone for mixed breed dogs and yet, somehow, I ended up with 3 purebreed dogs – 1 yellow Lab and 2 Shelties. All of them adopted from a shelter or a rescue.

Almost every breed you can think of has a rescue dedicated to it. Sheltie Rescue? You bet! Wheatens? Yes! Shih Tzus? Yup! All you have to do is look. There are hundreds of rescues out there just waiting to help you find the breed you want.

4. I don’t want to have to go through all the stuff a rescue or shelter requires – paperwork, a home visit, etc.

Personally, I welcome the paperwork and home visit. It means the rescue really cares what happens to their dogs.
Do you think there might be a reason why you don’t have to go through the same rigamarole with a pet store? There is. They don’t care about the puppy you are buying form them. They only care about the sale. That’s it.

Have you ever tried to return a puppy to a pet store? Good luck. You see they count on you falling in love with the puppy so that by the time you go to bring it back all they have to say is “Okay. We’ll take back the puppy and refund you your money.” and they know they’ve got you. Why? Because most people won’t take the money and give back the pup. They can’t stand leaving this cute little furry thing they fell in love with being left behind to be killed or sit in a pet store window again.

5. It’s so cute! I want it!

Puppies are cute, especially the small breed ones they frequently sell in pet stores. Pet stores also count on you falling in love with all that cuteness. That’s why they only sell puppies.

Getting a puppy is not like a buying the latest fashion accessory. All that cuteness also leads to chewed up shoes, poop in the hallway, biting, barking and vet bills. Before you fall in love with that cute little puppy ask yourself “Can I commit my life, time and money to this pup?” If not, pass on by and get yourself a stuffed animal.

6. I just can’t stand the thought of leaving that puppy here in this place.

Many a pet store customer has fallen into this trap. In fact, Pet stores depend on you feeling bad about leaving the puppy behind. But there are two reasons why you should stop yourself from buying a pet store puppy.

First, you are supporting the continued cruelty and suffering of both the mother and father of this puppy by purchasing the dog. You might feel guilty leaving the puppy behind, but how would you feel knowing that buying the dog just continues the cycle of pain and suffering for both the mother and father? They will be left behind too – to suffer in wire cages, living in their own feces and suffering unbelievable misery and suffering.

Second, puppy mill puppies that are sold in pet stores often have health issues that end up costing their owner an unbelievable amount of money. You can read one owner’s story about her pet store dog at CindyLu’s Muse.

7. I don’t want to have to wait to get my dog. I want it now.

Most people spend more time finding the right car than they do getting a dog. They research it, they ask their friends and family for advice, they take it out for a test drive. All this for a car they might have for 10 years. So why is getting a dog so much more urgent?

In this world of immediacy we can get pretty much what we want, when we want it, and where we want it, but most of those things are just that “things.” A dog is a living, breathing being with emotions and a need for love. It SHOULD take more time to get a dog than a purse or a pair of shoes or the latest video game.

Perhaps the most important reason to not to shop and adopt is this one fact – 3-4 million cats and dogs die in shelters every day. By buying a pet store puppy you are perpetuating the continued killing of these pets. First, by buying a dog you help to continue a puppy mill’s ability to keep churning out more and more puppies. Second, your choice to buy a puppy means that somewhere one more dog will die today because there is no more room at the shelter to give him a place to stay until he’s adopted.

Please don’t shop. Adopt.

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