Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My take on "Adopt. Don't Shop"

I've sunk to a new low. A quote from "Ghandi"? I demand references!

I read an article/blog post this morning that I'm feeling the need to share...because I respectfully disagree! The title of the article is Adopt Don't Shop-the most dangerous advice. Here's a little gem from the article.
Whenever I see [adopt don't shop] it makes my blood boil. It is one of the most irresponsible and incredibly stupid “emotional demands” I have seen. It bothers me, not because I breed (which I do), but as a person who helps people deal with animal behavior concerns.

The goal of finding homes for shelter or rescue animals should be based on the concept of finding the right MATCH, not the right home. The right home, will be the right home for any dog, the right match of dog-owner is the key.
Funnily enough, I agree with the second paragraph. And this is why any good shelter or adoption agency allows you to essentially "test out" your relationship with the dog first. They don't want you to end up with a dog that isn't a good match for you, and if you have any issues, they want you to bring the dog back to them! In fact, I had to sign a contract to that affect. If, at any time, I need to give Pippi up, I am contractually obligated to bring her back to the adoption agency.

And, just like that, this person's entire argument is blown to pieces. I'm sure there are agencies and shelters that don't have this agreement, but I doubt any of them would want you to keep an adopted animal if it just isn't the one for you. There are MILLIONS of dogs and cats in shelters. Why wouldn't they allow you to look around until you find the right fit? And also, why is this person so sure bred dogs are a better fit for everyone?

SuuuuperMuuuutt. Duh nuh nuh NUUUUH!

Petfinder.com is the website where I found Pippi. Look at those numbers. It's sad.

I'm a huge proponent of adopting dogs (or cats) instead of buying them from breeders or pet shops...in most cases. There are so many dogs and cats put down daily because there aren't enough homes for them all, and there are people out there breeding more dogs, many of which are likely to suffer the same fate. Also...puppy mills. Don't get me started on puppy mills. I once read an article on "the truth of euthanasia," which I can't find at the moment, but you can imagine.

This was essentially the gist.

The more dogs that are bred and sold in pet shops, the more perfectly good dogs in a shelter or up for adoption will be put down needlessly. My mom's dog is a purebred dog that the previous owner purchased from a breeder. My mom adopted her at under a year of age because the previous owner gave her up because she didn't know she was going to get that big. She's a frickin LABRADOR RETRIEVER! In that vein, I also think having some brain cells to rub together should be a prerequisite for getting a pet. It makes you wonder whether the breeder told the lady "this dog will grow to be between 70 and 90 pounds" or if the buyer did no research and then chose not to hear that part.

A while ago, someone tried to convince me that any dog over the age of six weeks (the age at which some agree a dog is ready to be weaned from its mother) is "ruined," meaning all hopes of training that dog are dashed because whoever owned the dog for those six weeks essentially brainwashed it into not being able to learn from anyone else. They then sent their dog away for six months to be trained by someone else. Oh the irony.

"You told me to get on my bed, so I got on my bed. Now where's my treat?"

I adopted Pippi when she was six months old and at 1.5 years old, we went to training classes for 12 weeks and now I can get her to do things I never could have imagined she'd ever know how to do and knows commands she definitely didn't know when I first got her. We've learned all these things together. In other words? Six weeks, my ass.

How could you pass up this mutt-tastic face?

Now, I'm not saying buying a dog from a breeder is always bad. Maybe someone needs a non-mix breed due to allergies or some other concern that I'm not familiar with. I just know that there are so many cats and dogs (and birds and fish and hedgehogs...yes, you can adopt a hedgehog on Petfinder) out there who needs homes that breeding more in order to make money just seems inhumane. Your life gets richer (pardon the pun) and maybe two or three more dogs suffer as a result? That just doesn't sound like something someone who really loves animals would do.


  1. I've never heard the six week's argument. You can pretty much train a dog for it's entire life, so that makes no sense. You can scar a dog, but they can still be trained.

    I believe in adopting, but we also don't have small children to worry about if the dog is aggressive at first, etc. I think it's a lot safer to get a pure breed if you have kids an need a specific personality, etc. It's not guaranteed with a pure dog, but it is safer then when you have no idea what your dog actually is.

  2. Good point. I didn't think about the kids angle.

  3. First of all, that Sarah McLachlan meme is 100% spot on and made me laugh. But I totally get enraged like you do when brainless people decide to get dogs and then mistreat them, or end up giving them up for adoption for nothing other than their own ignorance. My one friend works in a vets office, and I have heard some horrible stories about stupid dog owners that neglect the needs of their adoptee. I have always wanted to rescue a dog, but now that I have a little one, I may not be able to, like Kari said. Either way, I am DYING to get a dog!

  4. What person doesn't know a lab will get big?!

  5. Well, this will get me fired up! Of course I believe the person's arguments are completely ridiculous and you will never, ever see me with an animal other than one adopted. Ours are the rejects that other people couldn't handle and I completely agree they wouldn't be for everyone. But, there are PLENTY in shelters that will adjust easily. Most places are going to have the exact same contract you have where you are to bring them back if you ever have to give up. And at least 25% of the shelter animals will be those purebreds that someone bought from some shady source that they dump in a shelter later on! You hit a key point on the training - you and Pippi learned together!

  6. Crap ass I love animals. Dogs are sweet, but we're cat people and all three of ours are adopted. If I was rich and had a huge house I'd probably adopt 33 more. Some shelters are definitely more strict and pro-active than others about placing pets in the right home. The idea of people giving up their pets totally guts me. I can't imagine any situation that would lead me to such a sad conclusion. :(

  7. I obviously have an adopted mutt, but I think ethical breeders are fine. I have passion for specific breeds and I want a well bred puppy from established blood lines, not a rescue of that specific breed, especially as a family dog. My next dog will come from a breeder and I think buying a dog is just as valid as adopting. Sure, lots of dogs need homes, but so do lots of kids...yet I make my own here at home.

    1. I'm with Kara. My problem with "adopt, don't shop" is that it doesn't address the real problem. Ethical breeders are fine. The goal of ethical breeders is "the betterment of the breed." So they strive for prettier, smarter, more athletic versions of their breed. Wanting to purchase a specific breed, for any reason, isn't a problem. Like Kara said, lots of kids need homes but you don't see "adopt, don't procreate" stickers! A dog is a huge, lifetime investment. If people want to seek out and purchase a specific dog, they should!

      The issue is irresponsible dog owners that generate all these excess dogs. That means two things: puppy mills, and pet owners who don't spay/neuter. We need to get at the root cause, rather than blaming purebred owners for not adopting.

      That said, I have no problems with mutts/adoptable dogs. We're looking at them right now. But I can tell you it is much harder to find a suitable dog to adopt than it is to purchase. Adoptable dogs tend to be older with some issues (pippi). Or puppies that will surprise the hell out of you (peanut). When you buy, you know what you're getting.

      Ok, off soapbox now. Sorry :)

  8. Delilah was taken from her mom at 6 weeks and we assume that is why she is such a nightmare. Dogs need to stay with mom for at least 8-10 weeks. Next time I will check the math.

  9. I'm trying to come up with a comment but I don't care enough to think of anything to say. Sorry. I see dogs and tune out. Well done including Michelle though!

  10. My mom adopted her last Golden with similar circumstances your mom adopted her dog. She got the Golden retriever when she was a year old. The previous owner got the dog as a puppy, kept it tied up to a tree outside all day and then the dog was too hyper when they would let her I at night with their too young kids. If my mom didn't take her they were going to take her to the shelter because they were moving. People are idiots.
    I agree with your post 100%. I always adopt too and lays will.