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It’s Time to Get Real About “Adopt Don’t Shop”

The statistics are real. Approximately 6.5 million animals enter shelters every year, and of these animals, about 1.5 million of them are euthanized (ASPCA). That means that nearly one-fourth of animals that enter shelters will be euthanized each year.

This is not the shelter’s fault. I promise you that no animal care worker goes into their shift wanting to take a life. These euthanasias are a direct result of overcrowding, safety concerns, disease and/or injury. Many of these euthanasias are preventable.

The 3.2 million pets that are adopted each year (ASPCA) are euthanasias that were prevented. These pets were saved by their owners and are now in loving homes, but 3.2 million adoptions and 1.5 million euthanasias do not equal 6.5 million animals. According to these numbers, which do not account for the animals that have been in shelters for longer than one year, there are still 1.8 million animals waiting. The key word is that these animals are waiting. They may be adopted, but they also might die. These animals are sitting in cages waiting for someone to adopt them and save their life.

It is easy to see why animal lovers, much like myself, are tempted to preach “adopt don’t shop” and shame anyone who chooses to breed their animal or purchase an animal from a breeder. Despite those peoples’ good intentions, this is not okay. At the end of the day, people have the right to choose where they get their animals and how they use them. Just keep these things in mind before jumping to conclusions about where an individual goes to get their pet.

1. Working Animals

Any working dog should come from a breeder. The work could range from a cattle herding dog to a hunting dog, or even a service animal. These animals have specific jobs and need the pedigree to back it up. You don’t see the police going to the local Walmart parking lot to get a free german shepherd for a reason.

2. Known Temperament

Yes, you can have a great family pet from a shelter, but you never know their entire background. If you are looking for a pet to be around small children, the elderly, or even an adult that is not great with dogs, you’ll have better odds at a well-tempered pet if purchased from a breeder. This is mainly because breeders select for good temperaments.

3. Sentimental Reasons

If your childhood dog was a purebred golden, chances are you’re going to want one of your own when you’re raising your own family. Some people choose to buy breeder pets because they feel connected to a breed and want that specific one, and that’s okay.

These reasons, among others, are why people may choose to purchase an animal rather than adopt. Try to understand this, and be happy the pet has a safe and loving home. However, if you do choose to buy rather than adopt, please remember that unless you plan on responsibly breeding your pet, you should always spay and neuter. This helps your pet stay healthy and happy, as well as preventing unwanted litters from entering the shelters we are trying so hard to empty.


I am a pre-vet major who loves to laugh (especially at myself), drink coffee, and spend time with my dog, Cora. I moved from Massachusetts to Tennessee to attend college at UTM and compete for their division 1 rifle team.
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