If your family is considering adding a pet to your household, Congratulations! Pets bring joy to so many families. Who can resist the quirky antics, companionship, responsibility, and love from owning a pet? When someone decides to get a pet, the controversial topic often discussed upon friends is “adopting” a pet from a shelter or rescue, or “shopping” for a pet from a private party, breeder, or even online. Let’s discuss some of the considerations when “adopting” or “shopping” for a pet.
The Controversy Behind the Idea of “Adopting” vs. “Shopping” for Pets
Before we get started, let’s talk about the argument behind adopting vs. “shopping” for pets. I may have already pushed a few hot buttons for some folks, so I wanted to encourage everyone to have an open mind regarding the subject. People are quick to judge each other’s lifestyles and choices, and this subject is no exception. Some people will be ready to point out that by “shopping” for a pet, you are contributing to the “overpopulated” pet society and are encouraging breeding rather than spaying and neutering pets.
Breeders would argue that if everyone quit breeding pets, then we would not be passing on the heritage and desired traits that purebred pets bring to the world. Just like ANY controversial topic, there are multiple sides to every story. All I am trying to illustrate is that, just like we are quick to judge others on the decisions they make, I encourage everyone to try and have an open mind and make an educated decision before jumping on either side of the argument.
Adopting a Pet
There are several things to consider in the argument of people adopting pets (versus shopping for a pet).
- When you adopt a pet from a shelter or rescue, you are saving lives- both for the pet you are taking and potential pets needing rescuing. You are also supporting the local shelter or rescue where you are adopting the pet.
- You can choose any age of pet. Shelters and rescues have a wide selection of pets, ranging from puppies and kittens to senior pets. If you are not excited about adopting a puppy or kitten, a shelter or rescue may be the place to look for adult or senior pets. Adult and older pets are great candidates for adoption. Most of the time, you can get a good idea of how their personality is by spending a few minutes visiting with the pet.
- You can have a shelter or rescue help you decide what the best pet for your family will be. Depending on the shelter or rescue, the volunteers spend time getting to know the pet and screening them for behavioral traits to make sure they go to a good home.
- You may have more of a variety of pets to choose from at the shelter. If you are not sure about a breed of pet that you would like to adopt, you have time to look around at all the pets and get an idea of what you may want for your family.
- When you are adopting a pet, you may have fewer upfront expenses, as shelters and rescues generally make sure pets are spayed/neutered and vaccinated before they are adopted.
- One common statement you hear about adopting pets is you are “taking on someone else’s problem.” This statement is inaccurate! There are so many reasons why pets arrive at shelters. While some pets are surrendered to a shelter for medical or behavioral reasons, not every pet has experienced these problems. Just look online at Facebook or Craigslist and see all the reasons people list for rehoming their pets.
Other considerations when adopting a pet: As I mentioned, if you are choosing a pet from a shelter or rescue, expect the facility to interview you about your home life, housing situations, and maybe even come out for a home visit before deciding if you can adopt the pet. They may also ask personal questions such as is your roommate/spouse/significant other on board with getting a pet.
If you are renting your home, they may ask for written approval from your landlord. While this can be an uncomfortable process, the shelter is only trying to ensure the pet has a forever home, and that they are not returned to a shelter because “things didn’t work out” or the “landlord wouldn’t allow the pet.”
Shopping for A Pet
Shopping for a pet can be a very controversial topic. However, there are numerous factors as to why a person may “shop” for a pet rather than adopt one. Some shelters and rescues have particular screening processes, and your family may not take home the exact pet you want because you don’t fit the criteria for that pet’s needs. Other folks will shop for pets because they have a specific breed or age of pet in mind that they may not find locally at their shelter or rescue.
- Rather than going to numerous shelters or rescues searching for that specific breed, some would argue that you may have better luck “shopping” for a pet. You can “shop” for a pet online, go to the AKC or UKC clubs in search of breeders, or even check online platforms such as Facebook or Craigslist in your area.
- Most pet breeds have general characteristics in their personality, physical traits, and activity levels. If you are shopping for a purebred pet, research to ensure that you know what to expect from that specific breed of animal. Therefore, you can make sure the breed of pet you desire fits well with your lifestyle. If you are a couch potato, an active breed might not work out well for you.
- If you are considering getting a pet from a breeder, expect there to be a waiting period before you can take your pet home. If you desire a popular breed of pet, you may not find a breeder that has any pets available at the time you are looking to bring one home.
- Overall health– If you are looking at getting a papered purebred pet from a breeder, responsible breeders generally have health screenings performed on their pets and stand behind health guarantees for known genetic problems with that specific breed. However, health screenings don’t always guarantee that a pet will never have medical issues. Genetics and responsible breeding certainly help but are not always the main factor causing medical problems in pets.
- History– the person you are getting the pet from may have more knowledge of the pet’s background, behavior, and personality than if you were adopting a pet from a rescue or a shelter. When pets are surrendered to shelters, the owners are not always 100% honest as to why they are surrendering their pets.
- The age of the pet- some folks would argue that training may be easier if you get a puppy or a kitten versus an adult pet. Puppies or kittens do not typically have any learned habits yet, but they do require a lot of investment in proper training and obedience. Adult pets may already have the general training and obedience skills but may need further help as they may have learned habits from their previous owners and the environment. Therefore, in my opinion, the amount of training a person invests in their pet likely is equal, no matter the age of the pet.
- You may have more cost “upfront” with shopping for a pet, as younger pets may need to be vaccinated, spayed/neutered. Older pets may need their vaccinations updated or other medical needs addressed, such as teeth cleanings, etc.
- Don’t forget the adoption fee– Purebred pets generally cost more to adopt than a pet from a shelter. The pricing of purebred pets depends on the breed, popularity, and demand of the pet, as well as the time, energy, and money spent ensuring the breeder is breeding a quality pet.
- If you are getting a pet from a private party rather than a breeder, the adoption fee for the pet could also be higher than adopting a shelter as the pet may come with their bedding, food, toys, and other items.
Other Considerations when Shopping for pets: Breeders may be just as picky in their screening process as shelters or rescues. Responsible breeders that are proud of their pets invest a lot of time and energy into the health and well-being of the pet. They want to ensure the pet will be a good fit for your lifestyle and go to the right home. Most breeders ask pet owners to sign a contract that has several terms and conditions regarding the pet’s health, spay/neuter/breeding status, or even proper nutrition for the pet. After all, your pet is an example of what their kennel can produce, so they want to make sure you understand the importance of taking care of your new pet properly.
Use extreme caution when getting a pet online from a pet store, breeder, or even Craigslist or Facebook. There are a lot of responsible breeders out there, but there are also a LOT of puppy/kitten mills and irresponsible breeding, as well as a lot of scams online!
Consider Your Options
As you can see, there are many considerations for bringing a pet into your family. Some argue that “adopting” a pet is not an excellent fit for every family. Purchasing a purebred animal might not be an excellent fit for every family due to the cost or time restrictions involved. When you are ready to bring a new pet home, consider your circumstances, including finances, time restrictions, and desires. Whether you decide to “adopt” or “shop” for a pet, you can feel good about your choice as you are bringing joy and companionship to that pet’s life for many years to come!