Like with many questions in life, IT DEPENDS.
I don’t believe there is a wrong choice here - only uneducated choices - and so I hope to provide some insight to help you make the right choice for you.
There is a huge reason why #adoptdontshop has become so popular on social media – there are millions of animals (mostly cats & dogs) that are euthanized every year in the US alone due to lack of shelter space. Parrots, being so long-lived and complex to care for, are the most rehomed pet and sanctuaries are bursting at the seams. This is a strong reason to check out your local shelter/rescue first.
By adopting a pet from a shelter you can:
· Provide an animal a home (potentially saving a life)
· Free up space for another animal that needs it
· Support the shelter and its employees
· Choose either a baby or an adult
· Foster a dog before committing to adoption
There is a common misconception that shelter dogs usually have medical or behavior issues. This is not always the case. In fact, in many cases, dogs are surrendered to shelters because their owners had major life changes like they lost their job, had a baby, or relocated – nothing to do with the dog’s behavior or health. I once had the unpleasant experience of being present during a dog surrender at a shelter. When asked the reason for surrender, the owner said “he’s just old now, doesn’t do much”. My point is, there are many reasons animals end up in shelters and only one of them is behavior issues.
· You don’t know the animal’s medical or behavior history
· Spay/Neuter may be done sooner than is recommended
· Some shelters place too many restrictions on potential adopters
· Depending on where you live, the breed/species you want may not be available
If you are interested in adopting, here a few tips:
o You can check a nationwide list of adoptable animals on Petfinder.com and adoptapet.com
o If you are looking for a specific breed of dog or cat, look for breed-specific rescues or clubs
o For birds, you’ll find more options at bird sanctuaries
o For reptiles and amphibians, check out your local herpetological society.
NOTE: If saving money is the main reason you are choosing to adopt, stop, and think it through. If you cannot afford the cost of purchasing from a breeder, will you be able to afford veterinary care, food, and supplies? There is a lot more that gets factored into the cost of a pet than just the initial adoption fee.
Reputable breeders ensure that the wonderful pure breeds we have do not become extinct. For example, if we stopped breeding German Shepherds, we would soon not have any left. In the case of animals that are still in the wild, such as parrots, breeders allow us to have a captive bred collection when a species becomes endangered in the wild which can prevent the species from becoming extinct. Responsible breeders are passionate about the animals they breed and are typically very knowledgeable about the best care and breeding practices and can be a great resource for pet owners.
When purchasing from a breeder, you:
· Know your pet’s medical & behavioral history
· Get the exact breed or species you want
· Support mindful breeding of quality animals
· Help to ensure the breed/species will be around for generations
NOTE: With a Puppy (or other baby animal – kitten, chick, etc) there certainly are benefits to having a clean slate of sorts compared to an adult pet, but keep in mind that baby animals come with their own unique set of challenges and for many people, an adult is a better choice.
Not all breeders are responsible. Puppy mills are “breeding operations in which the health of the dogs is disregarded” in order to maximize profits. The term “puppy mill” can also apply to other species, such as birds and reptiles. This type of breeding usually produces animals in bad health, with bad genetics and with behavioral problems due to bad breeding practices, severe neglect and, oftentimes, blatant abuse.
· Searching for the right breeder can be daunting. Doing your research is easier said than done. It really requires a lot of time to do online searches and I recommend that you also connect with local groups online (like Facebook) and in person to find out all that you can about the right breeder for the type of pet you are looking to get. If you are looking into getting a dog, you will at some point need a veterinarian, maybe a dog trainer, pet sitter, or groomer – choosing these professionals first and asking them about breeders they might recommend can be invaluable.
· Be prepared to pay significantly more than if you were adopting from a rescue.
· Pet Stores usually buy their stock of animals from puppy mills and usually don’t give proper care advice so they are not recommended
It's not black and white...
There are “rescues” that market themselves as a rescue but are actually backyard breeders. Likewise, there are some local pet stores that are responsible breeders themselves and some even provide rescue or rehoming services. So, whether you choose to adopt or shop, always do your research.
Personally, I think your reason behind getting a pet and doing the research before bringing a pet home is far more important to focus on. However, I always consider shelters and rescues first before deciding on a new pet. I often use #adoptdontshop, not because there is any shame in shopping, but rather because the point of the hashtag is to promote adopting from shelters and rescues, which has long been viewed as a downgrade – and that could not be further from the truth.