Is Adopting a Pet Better Than Buying a Pet?
Adoption is when you acquire a pet from an animal shelter. Buying a pet is when you exchange money either with a pet store, breeder, or private seller. Real animal lovers know that adoption is better than buying a pet when it comes to preventing cruelty.
Many people who sell pets misuse the word “adoption” to try to make the purchaser feel good, or to be cute. Pet adoption is really more than just a swap of money for a pet, it involves an approval process, and an exchange of papers. Adoption is not for profit and not done in the “business sense” in that it is done through an animal shelter (most of which are non-profit), and the goal if the shelter is ultimately to find the pet a good home.
Pet stores have a different goal. Their goal is to make a profit by selling pets. When pets sell they get more, and the cycle continues. Sadly what few people realize is that pet stores get their pets from mills, mass breeders of animals who breed cheap, and sell cheaply to the pet store, allowing the pet store room to make a profit.
Pet stores deny using mills but think about it, why would a good breeder sell to a store rather than selling directly to the public, why would a good breeder want to remain anonymous, would a good breeder breed pups so cheap that they and somebody else could make such a profit?
Mills breed animals over and over until they can breed no longer, the animals receive only minimal care, and very little human attention. As such many pet store animals are poorly socialized, this is easily noticed with smaller caged pets such as hamsters, who tend to be nippy when from a store.
People sometimes assume that buying a pet from a pet store is “saving it” but these pets are not at risk of being killed (unlike many in shelters) if the pet store has a problem selling a pet they just move it to another store, or lower the price. No animals are “saved” rather the opposite is true, when pet stores sell pets they simply buy more (often from a puppy broker) and this keeps the cruel mill breeders in business.
Pet shelters do not pay for their pets, they do not encourage people to make more unwanted pets. With over 4 million unwanted (healthy) pets destroyed every year in the USA alone, shelters strongly discourage breeding more pets, and instead focus on teaching people to be responsible pet owners.
What About Private Sales?
Buying from the public is a tricky matter. Reputable breeders are excellent places to buy pets, but they are hard to find, and few people really know what to look for when looking for a breeder. As such many people end up buying from “back yard breeders” who often sell lower quality pets at inflated prices. While this is not as cruel as buying from a pet store, the problem is that these lower quality breeders are encouraged to continue breeding, and people often are duped into paying too much for a cute puppy (or whatever), and all the while shelters are forced to euthanize unwanted pets because more come in weekly than get adopted.
Buying from private sellers, with the exception of reputable breeders, is acceptable in the case of older pets that are being sold for a very nominal fee ($10 or less). The fees are usually attached only as a gesture of good faith with sellers being aware that people who take free pets are often not committed to ownership. Even then it is unwise for a person to pay for a pet that has not been vaccinated and so forth. However if the pet is already spayed, or neutered (has some value added) then it is a good arrangement. In some cases acquiring an older pet in this way is good because the pet can go directly from one home to the other rather than going through the shelter. It must be stressed this is only good when the pets have been vaccinated, vet checked, and/or spayed or neutered, as would be the case of many adult pets.
-above, a cat who was adopted by this author at 3 years old, she was already spayed, vaccinated, and declawed.
Animal Shelters – Adoption Saves Lives
Animal shelters cannot house every unwanted animal indefinitely. While a few animal shelters operate as “no-kill” this only means they are forced to turn away other pets when they are full and cannot accommodate more animals. Open admission shelters generally have more animals brought to them every week than they are able to find homes for. This forces the shelter to do regular euthanasia.
When you adopt from a shelter you save a life, and open up a space for the shelter to help another pet.
Animal shelters have staff that will try to help you make the right choice of pet for your lifestyle (very important particularly with dogs), and are there to answer your questions honestly since their goal is to find the right home for the pet (not just to make money by selling it). Some caged animals will even come with their cage and supplies, so can be a real value. Additionally most shelter pets have been vet checked, vaccinated, wormed, and so forth, and their adoption fee is generally lower than it would cost you to take a “free pet” to the vet for the same treatment.
All in all there are many reasons to adopt a pet, but the main one is to end the cruelty of more animals being born than there are homes for by refusing to support the sale of animals by store and backyard breeders. Remember, every pet of theirs that finds a home, takes a home away from a pet waiting at an animal shelter. The cycle must stop with you, the consumer.