Blog the Change – Don’t Shop, Adopt

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.

  1. January 14, 2012 at 11:06 PM

    Awesome post, Mel. I think you’ve nailed the most popular points to a tee – and this message can never be shared enough. Thanks for writing such an in-depth piece, even though we’re all tired out from the PBC. 🙂

    Thanks for blogging the change and being part of our team!

  2. January 15, 2012 at 12:16 AM

    Great post Mel – and one that needs to be shared far and wide. People really need to understand that purchasing a pet store puppy helps support puppy mills. There are wonderful dogs of all shapes and sizes, pure breed and mixed breed, puppies and adult dogs available through animal shelters and rescue groups!

  3. January 15, 2012 at 4:30 AM

    Hi Mel,
    My name is Pixel and this is my first ‘Blog the Change for Animals’. You wrote an excellent post here. Thank you for sharing such valid points about the importance of adopting from a shelter. We believe in it and have several rescues as part of our blended 7 pet family. All pets, no matter their background, have a place in a forever home.
    My Blog for Change is also about adoption, so please come by and visit. I am listed on the blog hop too. 🙂

  4. January 15, 2012 at 8:21 AM

    Lucy,a chihuahua/Mini Doby mix,is a shelter dog who was taken to the Perry County animal shelter because of a odd bark.She has voice box damage due to abuse (kicked in the throat) and sound like a muted baby seal.She has shared my home now for a year and I couldn’t ask for better.
    Sally is an older purebred chihuahua who was abandoned in the snow 1 year ago to freeze to death in single digit weather.Found by my sister and myself,she now has a home where she is loved,fed good and is much loved.She had puppies 7 weeks after being rescued.Both are healthy and happy.
    Why a shelter dog? Why not? My sister has Baby,(Shelter dog)who is approaching 10 years of age and although she is mixed breed.Baby is the humblest dog I have ever seen.She worries over my sister,who is fighting cancer,like a mother hen.
    Go to the shelters.A best friend is waiting for you.

  5. Lydia Joiner
    January 15, 2012 at 8:57 AM

    All 4 of my pets are from a shelter. But, I can tell you some really bad stories about area rescue groups. I tried to adopt a lab from a group once and it took over a month to schedule a home visit. I am a school teacher and wanted to time the adoption so that I would be on summer break to help him transition, I ended up going to the shelter. I have also had other friends try to get dogs from area rescues that had the same problems. I understand the need for a home visit, and welcome it. But, they really need to have better communication and timing. I thought we provided an ideal home since we compete in dog agility and obedience, but in the end I think the foster parents are attached to their charges and don’t intend to give them up to anyone.

    • Mel
      January 16, 2012 at 5:35 PM

      Lydia – You are so right. My friend Edie actually interviewed the guy in charge of The Shelter Pet Project on her blog and he mentioned that while they are driving traffic to rescues and shelters, they also need to be better prepared to meet that new demand. I think the bigger issue for many rescues is the lack of volunteers to help with the home visits. Ask any rescue and they will tell you that it is a huge problem. I support Minnesota Sheltie Rescue and they only have one person in my area of the city to do home visits. The home visit that was done for my foster sheltie was done by someone who lives over an hour away from me.

      While I don’t want to discount your thoughts on this, because I think you make some really valid points, I think the questions we should be asking are “How can we help?” and “If I don’t volunteer how will things improve?” Just something to chew on.

      • January 17, 2012 at 7:23 PM

        Great reply, Mel.

  6. January 15, 2012 at 9:56 AM

    The message about puppy mills and pet store dogs can’t be stated enough. I am still amazed when I think that, not too long ago, I had no idea about what “the doggy in the window” had gone through. There are still people who don’t know. Thank you for providing these sound rebuttals to some common concerns about shelters.
    Peggy’s Pet Place

    • Mel
      January 16, 2012 at 5:30 PM

      Thanks Peggy.

      I am amazed at how much more I know about puppy mills than I did before I got Daisy. I knew a little, but not a lot. Having her in my life has made me want to know more and to spread the message. I hope more people start spreading the message as well. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. January 15, 2012 at 10:18 AM

    Awesome post! You really addressed all of the issues that people raise – definitely a helpful resource for those of us who are confronted with someone who doesn’t want to get a rescue for whatever reason. Well done.

    Also, bonus points for George. 🙂

  8. January 15, 2012 at 10:33 AM

    As a rescue dachshund myself, I really appreciate your post. You touch on all the things I’ve heard people say about adopting a dog. Thanks so much for writing a post that will be a great resource!

    • Mel
      January 17, 2012 at 10:54 PM

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting Tootsie. I so appreciate it!

  9. January 15, 2012 at 12:30 PM

    Great Post Mel!! If everyone adopted instead of buying from pet shops, there would no longer be all these horrible puppy mills.

    • Mel
      January 17, 2012 at 10:54 PM


  10. January 15, 2012 at 1:52 PM

    Oh, my…melting here over George…:) Mel, you and I sure have something in common. Your list of reasons why people choose to purchase from a pet store are spot-on, exactly what I heard shoppers have express to those protesting outside a store. The most common one is the concern about leaving the puppy in the store – a valid concern, but you explain well why we need to think beyond that idea. Grasping the bigger picture and pushing for real change is our only solution to this inhumane situation. (p.s. – thank you for linking to Deanne’s personal account!)

    • Mel
      January 17, 2012 at 10:55 PM

      So funny that you called out reason #6. It’s how I ended up fostering Jasper and his sister and how I ended up adopting him too. Pet stores so count on that.

  11. January 15, 2012 at 4:29 PM

    Great post! Funny thing is, I wanted a mixed breed from the labs 4 rescue and I got a pure breed instead. Go figure.

    I always felt bad for those little puppies in the pet store window, but knowing where they come from I had to pass. If people would stop buying pet store puppies and states would crack down on puppy mills, the world would be a better place.

  12. January 16, 2012 at 10:27 AM

    Oh, I love this post.

    Sent it to Twitter tweeps. Next, I’ll do the same on Facebook. Thanks so much for putting the cause and case for adoption in such a trim and formated list!

    Also I’m a bit envious. Where did you get the George Cloony poster? Please send me a hint. I’d love to add it to my blog for adoption and dog rescue.

    • Mel
      January 16, 2012 at 5:28 PM

      So glad you liked the post! Thank you for sharing.

      I wish I could say I know George personally and he sent it to me, but that would be a lie. Actually, I just downloaded it from Facebook after a friend shared it. I think I posted it on my blog’s FB page, so you should be able to do the same.

      P.S. So glad you joined Blog the Change!

  13. January 16, 2012 at 10:55 AM

    Terrific post, as always. The Clooney ad certainly didn’t hurt!

    From an early age I had it drilled into my head that dogs at pet stores were from places that treated them like objects. My parents were always quick to chastise me for lingering too long at the window. I remember a lot of tongue clucking and head shaking. So it is still kind of stunning to me when people say they didn’t know. It’s like they are from a different planet. I often have to check myself before I break out the sarcasm.

    • Mel
      January 17, 2012 at 10:57 PM

      AJ gave me points for Clooney. 🙂

      It’s funny Kristine, but I didn’t have it drilled in my head, but somewhere I must have read about them because I was at a mill to get a Sheltie after my first Sheltie died (I think I was 30) and I walked away because I knew what it was and refused to support this woman. I felt awful for the Sheltie I left behind. 😦

  14. January 17, 2012 at 9:55 PM

    #6 is a good one on your list. That’s how one of my the Mom of one of my girlfriends ended up with a puppy, and getting a dog wasn’t exactly on the to-do list that day 😦

    • Mel
      January 17, 2012 at 10:58 PM

      Yup. I think it’s probably the most common reason people end up leaving with a puppy. Thanks for sharing your own experience Karen.

  15. January 20, 2012 at 2:10 PM

    Great post, Mel. In our society of instant gratification, it’s tough to convince people to be patient and that’s how the puppy mills stay in business. The thrive on our weaknesses. And, I’ve been there myself – patience is not a virtue that I possess. I hope our society can start to look at pets a little differently, as individual beings with different personalities. You would instantly marry a person you find attractive. The pet/person relationship may last longer than a marriage so shouldn’t we be willing to spend more time finding the right match?

  16. January 21, 2012 at 5:46 AM

    Thanks Mel, this is a great post that highlights a lot of concerns and questions that people have regarding buying or adopting a dog. Thanks for sharing your knowledge

  17. January 26, 2012 at 3:54 PM

    I enjoyed reading your post. My youngest dog is a rescue that someone gave up and she was only 9 weeks old. She is the sweetest dog you could ever hope to find. Rescue and shelter dogs are sometimes the best dogs you can bring into your life and family. I agree that more people should adopt or rescue a dog. Thanks for your post!

  18. Sheila Anderson
    January 21, 2014 at 8:37 AM

    Thanks for an excellent post, Mel. I had no answer one time someone defended her pet store purchase to me by protesting “these dogs need homes, too!). Now I could talk rings around her. It’s encouraging, more people are starting to know. Btw, I wanted to rescue a mixed breed and ended up with a Toy Poodle 🙂

  1. January 15, 2012 at 11:51 PM
  2. May 2, 2017 at 9:08 AM

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