Why You Should Adopt Animals, Not Shop for Them
Companion animals should be considered members of the family, so it makes sense to call it “adoption” when you bring one into your home. But what does “adoption” mean, exactly?
It means giving a loving home to a dog or cat in an animal shelter or struggling to survive on the streets. There are about 70 million homeless animals in the U.S. at any given time.
And it means never buying dogs, cats, hamsters, fish, birds, guinea pigs, mice, or any other animals from pet stores or breeders. When a newborn puppy or kitten is purchased from a breeder or pet store, a homeless one doesn’t get to be part of a family.
Here are some commonly asked questions and our answers:
- What’s the difference between a pet store and an animal shelter?
Pet stores sell animals for profit. Most animals sold in pet stores have been bred in factory farm–like breeding mills, where they were confined to tiny, filthy cages or bins. These facilities mass-produce animals as if they were products, often ignoring their basic needs. Many are shipped inside cramped containers to pet stores and arrive malnourished, dehydrated, ill, or injured. Dead and dying animals are considered part of the “cost” of doing business.
Animals aren’t products—they’re sensitive beings. Some pet stores and breeders have options to buy animals online, which encourages the public to view them as impulse purchases no different from fashion accessories acquired on a whim and discarded when the novelty wears off—rather than thinking, feeling individuals who deserve love and respect.
While a pet store’s goal is to make money, an animal shelter’s goal is to protect neglected, abused, and homeless animals and prevent suffering. An animal shelter is a staffed facility where homeless animals—and animals seized by authorities in cruelty cases—find safety and comfort, are cared for, and are made available for adoption. Temporarily housing animals in shelters keeps them from being loose on the streets, where they would struggle to find clean food and water, risk being hit by cars or attacked by other animals or cruel humans, and face other potential dangers.
- I feel bad for animals in pet stores. Can I save them by buying them?
You should never buy an animal from a pet store or breeder. If you do, another animal will be bred at a mill to replace the one you bought. It’s a never-ending cycle of misery. Every dollar spent at a store that sells live animals contributes to more animals’ suffering.
- Animal shelters charge adoption fees. Isn’t that the same as buying an animal?
Shelter adoption fees go toward the costs of housing, feeding, and supplying needed veterinary care to animals. When you shop at pet stores or breeders, they use the money to abuse more animals and line their own pockets.
- Are some breeders and pet stores worse than others?
There’s no such thing as a “responsible” breeder, because there’s nothing responsible about bringing more companion animals into a world that already has too many. Each time a breeder or pet store sells a litter, it’s motivated to breed and sell another one. There are only so many homes available for dogs each year, and for every slot filled by a dog from a breeder, there’s one less home available for a dog in a shelter.
Here’s How You Can Help Companion Animals
If you’re ready for the commitment of welcoming an animal into your family, be sure to adopt from a shelter, rather than shopping at a pet store or breeder.
Want to support your local shelter even if you aren’t ready to adopt? Giving a home to one dog or cat is a wonderful thing, but sterilizing one dog or cat will potentially prevent hundreds (if not thousands) of animals from suffering and dying by preventing generations of puppies and kittens from being born. Inform your friends, family, and community members about the importance of spaying and neutering. Go even further by helping to get spay/neuter laws passed to save more lives.
You could also host a fundraising drive at your school for a local animal shelter, volunteer to walk dogs and interact with cats at the shelter, or just spread the word and tell others why they should adopt animals, not shop for them.