by Natalie Murray ‘18
Dogs are commonly referred to as “man’s best friend,” and as someone who not only owns dogs but also works with them, I can attest to that statement. Dogs provide numerous health benefits to their owners, as well as being loyal and devoted companions. Unfortunately, people are not always dog’s best friend: sometimes people inadvertently harm animals — even when they’re buying one in the first place.
When getting an animal, there are three main options: pet stores, breeders, and rescues. Of these three options, it is ideal to adopt a dog from a non-profit rescue, like the Humane Society or the ASPCA, rather than buying from a pet store or a breeder.
For starters, adopting from a non-profit organization will often be cheaper than buying from a
breeder. Aside from the adoption fee, there could be an additional payment if the animal had to be microchipped or spayed/neutered. But even with surgery or a microchip, the cost of adopting a shelter dog rarely exceeds $500. But whereas $500 is the maximum for a rescue dog, it’s around the minimum for breeder dogs. In fact, buying a purebred dog can often cost upwards of a thousand dollars.
But price differences are only one of many reasons that make shelter dogs a better option than pet store or breeder ones. Since non-profit rescues have limited resources, they often have to euthanize dogs that are kept in their care for over a certain amount of time. This time period varies from shelter to shelter; some may have a limit of several weeks, whereas some may have a several-month limit. But several weeks or months isn’t always enough to get dogs adopted.
According to the ASPCA, about 31 percent of dogs who enter a shelter get put down; this accumulates to around 1.2 million dogs per year — so 1.2 million dogs are euthanized because they can’t find a home in time. If you have the option to adopt a dog and potentially save its life, isn’t that a better choice to make than opting to buy one from a breeder or pet store?
Additionally, pet store puppies are often supplied by puppy mills: places in which dogs are bred exclusively for profit, which means that they have minimal shelter, food, water, and veterinary care. They’re frequently kept in small, wire-bottomed cages, and bred repetitively with few breaks in between litters. The puppies are quickly sold to pet stores, where they are then bought by someone who is unaware that they are supporting a cruel and inhumane practice..
If pet stores are often linked to puppy mills, and breeders are unnecessarily expensive, why do people continue to buy dogs from those places? Especially when shelters offer dogs of every size, shape, breed, and age, and when shelter dogs are in a life-or-death situation?
Rescuing a dog from a shelter or the pound is better for the dog, for your conscience and your wallet. And unless you plan on breeding your dog or entering them in dog shows, buying a dog from a breeder has no benefits that rescuing a dog from a shelter doesn’t. So if you’re considering a pet, turn to your local animal shelter before heading to a pet store or a breeder