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Why We Shouldn't Just Adopt From Animal Shelters

Over a month ago, we published an article discussing ideas for how we can work together as the pet industry to change the way we sell live animals in pet stores. Since that article's publication, we have gotten an incredible amount of feedback from both the pet industry and concerned consumers. 

Our goal for publishing these articles is ultimately to educate the pet industry about the truths of selling animals, through breeders, in pet stores. As an industry, we need to unite as a solid front and fight the attempts to ban the regulated sale of pets in pet stores across the United States, and ultimately, the world.

We plan on continuing our mission to spread the message that there are actual animal welfare benefits to adopting pets from a pet store. Additionally, we firmly believe there's a difference between "backyard breeders" (puppy mills, which are very bad), and "professional breeders" (the ones with animal welfare at the top of mind).

The next series of articles, to be published over the coming weeks, will hopefully help you see our side of the story. We want to do what we can to support pet stores because without pets, there won't be a pet industry. 

Why Not Just "Adopt Don't Shop"?

Before continuing on with the rest of the points, there's something that should be pointed out. We are not saying that there is anything wrong with adopting from an animal shelter, and potentially saving a life. In fact, it's a great way to help a dog find a home who might never have done so otherwise. We definitely recommend making your first choice adopting from your local animal shelter.

Related Article: Why 'The Dog Lover' is Very Important for the Pet Industry

While you should adopt from animal shelters, adopting a dog from a breeder or pet store does not necessarily mean you are condemning another dog to death, as things are just not that black and white. In fact, consumer demand for dogs is now more than seven times the population of homeless dogs in shelters that are requiring a home. This explains why now only 2% of dogs in animal shelters are euthanised (as compared to 25% in 1971).

Note: We will be covering this in more detail within the next article in this series, so keep your eye out for that.

A consumer may just have a preference for a dog that is pure-bred and who they can raise and train from the ground up to fit their particular lifestyle. Because of this, it's important to allow consumers the opportunity to choose where they get their pets, as long as it's from a safe, well-maintained facility that has animal welfare at the top of mind. 


Pros and Cons to Adopting from an Animal Shelter

There are pros and cons to adopting from an animal shelter versus a pet store.

When adopting from an animal shelter, you are likely giving that homeless pet a loving forever home which will allow him/her to grow up with a family who loves and cares for them. That pet may have been given up for a variety of reasons, but has now found the care that they need. There is nothing that feels quite as great as providing for a new member of the family, especially when that member may have been down on his luck in the past.

However, when adopting a 3-year old mutt at the animal shelter, you never know exactly why that animal was given up. The downfall to adopting from a shelter is that there's just no way to fully know the background of the dog. It's possible that he may have gotten a disease, either from living conditions within the shelter or from his life previous to staying in one. Or, there could be behavioral issues that are just too far along to completely correct. In fact, over 20% of dogs that are brought to shelters were adopted from a shelter. 

According to a study completed by the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 22.8% of dogs relinquished to a shelter were originally adopted from a shelter, while only 10.9% were adopted from a breeder and 3.9% were adopted from a pet shop. This fact alone points out the fact that, while in no means impossible, it can be difficult to successfully re-home a dog with an unknown background. This is why it's crucial to ensure there are other options for those who don't want to go through the potential barriers of adopting from a shelter.

Related Article: Changing the Way We Sell Live Animals in Pet Stores

What makes adopting from an animal shelter so difficult?

There may be many considerable reasons for these numbers, including:

  • Dogs adopted from a pet store/breeder may better fit a particular household's lifestyle because they are:
    • a) A particular breed
    • b) At a young age that is easily trainable
  • Dogs adopted from an animal shelter have previously unknown backgrounds that may not fit that particular person's lifestyle (i.e. doesn't get along with cats or children, is scared of a particular person, ect.)
  • Dogs purchased at a higher price (shelter is cheapest, then breeder, then pet store) are less likely to be an impulse buy and therefore less likely to be relinquished at a shelter. High-ticket purchases are generally highly researched and thought-out before making the commitment, allowing the new pet owner to ensure he/she is ready to own a pet.

Animal shelters are also seeing an impressive downfall in how many dogs are being euthanized throughout the United States over the past few decades. We will discuss this further in the next article.

Until then, what do you think? Is buying from a pet store really contributing to the problem of puppy mills? Is there really an overpopulation problem? Leave your comments below. 


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Ashley Hoffman – E-Commerce & Digital Marketing Manager joined the All Points family in April of 2015. Ashley brings a fresh outlook to the marketing industry as well as a constant desire for learning something new. She is dedicated to consistently improving her skills and efficiency in the marketing industry and using those skills to promote APM and all brands we represent. Ashley has grown up with many animals throughout her life and is currently the loving owner of two cats.

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