I just adopted a dog after many years of adopting cats and even getting my guinea pigs that way. I marvel at people who spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on animals. I know some pet owners like the cachet they feel comes from buying a dog or cat from a breeder, but adoption is just as good. Let’s shoot down some myths about why some people feel they should buy instead of adopt:
I want a purebred dog (or cat). Sadly, purebreds are abandoned with almost the same frequency as mixed breeds. Don’t believe me? Look in the animal shelters and on Craigslist about a month after Christmas. You can get almost any breed cheap or for free because people are sick of those cute Christmas puppies chewing up the house and peeing on the floor and the kittens scratching the furniture.
Also, there are plenty of rescues that work with specific breeds. If you’re near a major city, chances are you can find a local rescue that works with the type of dog you want, from Chihuahuas to German Shepherds.
I want a healthy dog (or cat). This is all the more reason to get one from a shelter, not a breed. The vast majority of dogs sold in pet stores come from puppy mills that raise the poor creatures in abysmal conditions. People get them home and discover myriad health problems. Good shelters and rescues screen the dogs and cats that come through their doors, so you have a better chance of getting a healthy pet through adoption.
I want a puppy (or kitten). I’m a firm believer in adopting adult pets. They’re more settled, and you can tell their personality. With dogs, they’re often already at least partially trained. Still, I know some people prefer kittens and puppies. Sadly, many don’t realize that there are just as many young animals as old ones at the shelters. People don’t spay or neuter their pets and end up with unwanted offspring that they dump.
I want to know the dog’s (or cat’s) disposition. Do you really think you have more of a chance of predicting this with a shelter puppy than one purchased from a breeder? If it comes from a puppy mill, you won’t know a thing about its background. If you buy it from a private breeder, you’ll hopefully know about its parents, but that doesn’t guarantee that all the puppies will have those traits. Puppies and kittens are all individuals. It’s better to go to a shelter and spend some time playing with the animals to see which one bonds with you.
I can’t imagine buying an animal while thousands of dogs and cats die in animal shelters every day. One of the county shelters in my area was so desperate that it recently ran a special with $20 dogs and free cats. When I see things like that, I can’t in good conscience support breeding. If you’re on the fence, I hope my myth vs. fact comparison will convince you to adopt, too.