Why I Don’t Use the Phrase ‘Adopt Don’t Shop’

This article is about respecting the different options we have available on how to get a dog or puppy and resources on how to do so responsibly. It’s about how breeders, rescues and shelters need to work together in order to help more dogs. Before you leave a comment, remember to be kind to one another.

Here’s what you’ll find in this post:

Why adopt don’t shop is wrong

I personally don’t use the phrase “Adopt, Don’t Shop” even though I support pet adoption.

The saying Adopt Don’t Shop is used to promote dog adoptions vs. buying a puppy from a pet shop (puppy mill) or breeder. You’ll see it on t-shirts, bumper stickers and as a hashtag.

The reason I don’t use the phrase “Adopt Don’t Shop” is because it’s OK for a dog lover to responsibly get a dog from a breeder OR from a shelter. It’s also extremely important for good breeders and good rescue groups to work together.

Rescue groups need good breeders.

Adopting a dog is wonderful! Buying a puppy is wonderful too!

You SHOULD “shop” for the right breeder or the right rescue group or shelter. It’s important to do your research and get the dog that is right for your family.

Of course, I understand where people are coming from. They mean well.

It’s good to promote dog adoptions and “Adopt Don’t Shop” is a catchy phrase – especially if you’re standing outside a pet shop protesting puppy mills.

“Adopt, don’t shop!”

I’d even say it makes sense to use the phrase Adopt Don’t Shop in that exact scenario, if you’re protesting a puppy mill or pet shop.

I get it. We can all agree that puppy mills are terrible.

The problem is when people use the phrase Adopt Don’t Shop to represent ALL breeders.

Adopt Don’t Shop controversy

The phrase Adopt Don’t Shop could potentially alienate a huge percentage of dog owners who have happily purchased their dogs.

These are dog owners who would like to help your rescue or shelter because they love the breed or they love dogs. They are dog lovers who don’t feel guilty about buying a purebred puppy but they also want to put an end to shelter killings.

I bought a weimaraner puppy, for example, but I also support my local weimaraner rescue group. In my home, we also have an adopted Lab mix and two adopted cats. Many families have both “rescued” pets and pets from breeders.

Why I don’t use the phrase ‘Adopt Don’t Shop’

The problem is when people use the phrase – Adopt Don’t Shop – to include ALL breeders, not just irresponsible breeders or puppy mills. Some people take the phrase literally.

But buying a puppy from a breeder is not necessarily a bad thing.

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We can support breeders and shelters at the same time

Sometimes rescue volunteers forget a large percentage of dog owners are proud of buying their dogs from breeders but would ALSO love to support true no-kill shelters. It’s possible to support both responsible breeders and responsible rescues!

Maybe they’d like to volunteer, foster, donate, attend a fundraiser – or even adopt their next dog! 

They need to feel welcomed in order to do so! Not alienated because of where they got their previous dog.

You could argue, “Who cares! It’s about helping the dogs! I don’t have time to worry about a ‘Greeder’s’ hurt feelings.” But this isn’t helpful, because we need good dog owners to open their homes for dogs in need when it’s a good fit.

Do you think this phrase “Adopt, don’t shop” actually helps more dogs get adopted?

Or does the slogan perhaps harm dogs by turning away the large percentage of dog lovers who would like to foster, donate or volunteer but feel bad or embarrassed when they hear “Adopt! Don’t shop!” Or “Don’t buy when shelter pets die!”?

I’m going to end with a quote from my friend Tegan Whalan who does it all. She is a blogger, dog breeder, dog trainer AND runs a small rescue group! Read my interview with her here. She is impressive! I repeat, she is a breeder AND runs a rescue group.

She said:

“If rescues ostracize and discriminate against breeders, they are losing a valuable resource. Many breeders really like dogs, including rescue dogs, and want to help them. This help can be finances, kennel space, networking or knowledge. If rescues do not communicate in an effective and pleasant – or at least civil – way with breeders, they may be ‘burning bridges’ when it comes to the help that breeders can provide.”

Read the full interview here: How breeders and rescues can work together.

Two good boys Remy and Ace

Now, here are some resources if you decide to adopt a dog or puppy!

How to adopt a puppy

If you decided you want to adopt a puppy, congratulations! There are many puppies available through rescue groups and shelters throughout the country. The best thing to do is do a google search for rescue groups, animal shelters and humane societies in your area and visit their websites to see what kinds of puppies are currently available.

Depending on where you live, there may be a high demand for rescue puppies. By that, I mean the puppies typically get adopted almost immediately.

If that is the case in your area, you should fill out an adoption application with a couple of rescues/shelters so you are approved to adopt ahead of time. This process often takes 2-3 weeks, depending on the rescue group. That way, once the right puppy is available, you will already be in the system and ready to adopt. That is the hard part, waiting!

In the meantime, it’s a great idea to attend the rescue or shelter’s adoption events so you can meet some of the puppies or dogs and also to get to know the rescue volunteers and their process.

Once you’ve been approved to adopt through that particular group, then you can typically take a dog or puppy home the day of the adoption event.

What do you have to pay to adopt a puppy?

The cost to adopt a puppy depends so much on where you go to get the puppy. A shelter or humane society funded by local government typically charges less than an independent rescue group. However each facility is different. 

You can expect to pay $80 to $150 to adopt a puppy from a “pound” or shelter. You should plan to pay more, ranging from $150 on up to $600+ if you go through a rescue group. If you’re not sure, check the specific group’s website for adoption fees. The adoption fee is often higher for a puppy vs. an adult dog due to the higher demand for puppies.

If you adopt a puppy from Craigslist, it depends on what the individual rehoming the puppy wants to charge. On average, the adoption fee is typically $100 to $300.

How to adopt a puppy for free

It’s hard to find a free puppy to adopt unless you adopt a puppy or dog through a friend or family member who needs to re-home their dog for whatever reason. I did this with my 1-year-old dog, Ace. His original owner just needed to find him a new home, and she was not interested in making any money. 

Occasionally, there are people who list free puppies on Craigslist or in the newspaper classifieds. More often, though, it’s adult dogs that are listed for free or a small fee. 

Of course, you want to be careful about adopting a “free” puppy or dog. Ask a lot of questions to learn about the puppy’s background. Is she sick? What is her personality? Has she ever bitten anyone? Why is this person giving away puppies for free?

Health concerns with puppies – parvo, mange, etc.

If you buy a puppy through a good breeder, you should not have to worry about diseases or parasites such as parvo, kennel cough, intestinal worms, fleas or mange. The puppies will have had a round or two of vaccinations, they will live in sanitary conditions and they will be de-wormed. 

Puppies from a breeder often come with a health guarantee against issues such as hip dysplasia, and the parents and grandparents are (hopefully) screened for common hereditary issues in that particular breed.

Likewise, when you adopt a puppy through MOST shelters or rescues, they will provide the puppy with medical care and if there are any issues they should disclose this information to you, the adopter.

On the other hand, certain municipal animal shelters are managed on very little funding, overrun with stray animals and understaffed. It’s very possible to adopt a very, very sick puppy from a shelter or “pound.” 

You would hope the shelter would disclose any health issues with adopters, but the reality is they do not always do so. The staff may not even be aware of the puppy’s illness and the puppy may not have received any type of evaluation or medical care at all. This is a risk you take when adopting a puppy from a shelter.

Common health issues in puppies include:

Parvo in puppies. Parvo is a serious, deadly virus that can strike dogs and puppies that have not been vaccinated against it. Some of the symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting and lethargy. Puppies should be vaccinated against parvo at about 6 weeks of age. Do not adopt a parvo puppy if you have other dogs that have not been vaccinated. Learn more about parvo here.

Dog kennel cough. The official name for “kennel cough” is bordetella, and it is caused by bacteria. A lot of people use the term “kennel cough” loosely to describe any respiratory illness in dogs caused by either bacteria or viruses. When a puppy lives in a damp, crowded environment such as a shelter, her risk for this type of infection increases.

Mange in puppies. Mange is a contagious skin disease found in dogs or puppies. It is caused by a certain kind of mite that will burrow through the skin causing itchiness, irritation and often hair loss for the dog. It is treatable but highly contagious to both people and dogs. Learn more about mange here. If you decide to adopt a puppy that has mange, know that it is contagious but very treatable.

No matter where you adopt your puppy, it’s always a good idea to take him to a vet within the first couple of days, even if the puppy appears healthy. That will help your puppy get off to a great start!

What age to get a puppy

It’s best to adopt a puppy around 7.5 to 9 weeks old so the puppy has time to socialize with her mom and littermates. Most breeders, rescue groups and shelters will send puppies home with their new families when the puppies are around this age.

Behavioral issues are less likely to develop if the puppy has had this important 7-9 weeks with her “dog family.” Of course, it’s important to start proper puppy training and socialization with any puppy you adopt, regardless of age.

If something happened to the puppy’s mother – perhaps the litter was found abandoned or the mother died – then it makes sense to adopt the puppy younger than 7 weeks. Just be prepared for potential socialization issues. It’s always a great idea to work with a professional trainer or sign up for puppy training classes with any new puppy, regardless of its age or background.

Here is some information on how to train your puppy.

Now … I’d love to hear from you!

In the comments, let me know how you feel about the phrase “Adopt Don’t Shop” and if you’ve ever adopted a dog or puppy. How was the process for you? This is an emotional topic so please be kind to one another when discussing this issue.

*If you would like to receive our down-to-earth, weekly dog training tips, Click Here

Related posts:

How are TRUE no-kill shelters saving more dogs?

How much money do dog breeders make?

5 things I wish rescue groups would never do

When a dog rescue volunteer buys a puppy from a breeder

125 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Use the Phrase ‘Adopt Don’t Shop’”

  1. I use the phrase. But I do appreciate great breeders. There are so many wonderful dogs out there that are a specific breed and we should celebrate and preserve that.

    There is a huge issue though with the amount of dogs in shelters. And although I would love a specific breed- or all the breeds I have a bunch of mixes who I got either off the street from a rescue or from a shelter.

    The problem is that the breeders that won’t except dogs back because those dogs end up in shelters as well and unfortunately at larger numbers then one would think.

    I have been thinking lately hat there has to be away to fix the the huge problem of abandoned dogs. There has to be a way!! Spay and neuter of course but maybe stricter guidelines on breeding to weed out the “bad” breeders. I don’t want to get I to a debate bc obviously people would argue “that just punishes the good breeders.”

    But we could throw catchy slogans around and we can continue to try to save all the dogs going over the waterfall or we can see were the dogs are entering the water in the first place

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      For me, thinking about your comment about helping dogs in shelters, it’s all in the attitude of the shelter + community overall. I’m very inspired by the communities that have come together (San Diego County – woo hoo!) and made the decision to end shelter killing. When shelters remove killing as an option, the volunteers, staff, community, etc., can get creative enough to find positive outcomes. I’ve studied no-kill communities a lot, and it usually comes down to the right leadership at the shelters, improved marketing and then removing the blame. Shelters, the community and the local government all need to offer support and help vs. play the blame game.

      http://www.thatmutt.com/2014/07/30/how-no-kill-shelters-save-more-dogs-and-cats/

    2. Can you explain to me the importance of breeding when their is a countless amount of animals being put down daily because they have no one to take care of them? I truly don’t understand. I see breeding as a way for people to make money off of animals and that’s it.

      1. Lindsay Stordahl

        Hi Erin, I’m going to answer you because it seems like you’re not here to argue (hopefully). For me personally, I went to a breeder because I wanted a certain type of dog for certain tasks (pheasant hunting, agility, long-distance running of up to 15 miles+ per day and hiking). There are shelter dogs that can do these things, but it is more difficult to find one. My dog is bred for specific work (hunting) and most dogs are not capable of the distance running of a weimaraner. I also had a hard time finding a rescue that would allow me to adopt from them because I’m in an apartment (no yard) and my senior cats are not “up to date” on vaccinations. There were no weim rescues that would let me adopt. This is not a criticism of them, that is their choice. This breeder was willing to work with me, although she really questioned me too and made me prove I’m a serious runner. This doesn’t mean the breeder was my only choice but that this was the right choice for me at this time.

        1. I’m pretty sure you just proved her point that you did what worked for you not what is best for dogs in general. The thought of me buying a dog from someone who is forcing dogs to have babies endlessly and no matter how good a breeder is these dogs are not living good life with the ability to run around and be loved by a family/person isn’t something that Seems right to me when their are sooo many dogs that need homes.

          1. Kelli, your claims are simply not true.

            My breeder keeps two or three females. They are beloved pets. She trains them, exercises them, works them, and loves them. They are show dogs, so they do spend some time with their handler, but overall they are simply her dogs. I see my breeder at dog-related activities, like obedience seminars, doing the same things with her dogs that I’m doing with mine.

            These dogs are not “bred endlessly.” They may have no more than one litter in their entire life, although some will have two or three before being retired. Sometimes a retired dog’s needs might be better met in a pet home, and if that is the case, they will be placed there when the right one comes along.

            My breeder is far from atypical. When people make claims like this, it makes me think they are very poorly informed regarding what a good breeder actually looks like.

          2. If you don’t do what is right for you, ultimately the good you want to do may backfire. First-time dog owners may not have the skills or wherewithall to handle the special needs a rescue dog may have, which could result in a bad experience for both the dog and the rescuer.

            As a first-time dog owner, I bought a puppy from a reputable breeder. I was concerned that I would not have the skills necessary to care for a dog from a shelter that may have behavioral issues such as separation anxiety from having been abandoned.

            I rescued my second dog after being confident from the experience I gained from my first dog that I would be able to handle the behavioral issues that may arise with a rescue. This approach worked well for me and both dogs are happy, healthy, and well-adjusted.

        2. BREEDING AND BUY A DOG IS SIMPLY RACIST (CHOOSE BASE ON RACE) AS WELL AS USING THE DOG INSTEAD OF LOVING THE DOG.
          TOO MANY Dogs LEFT TO DIE TO CHOOSE WITCH ONE I LIKE THE MOST. THIS ARTICLE SEAMS TO ME MORE AS DEFENSIVE MOVE THAT A REAL ARGUMENT.

          1. Well, I understand that the capital letters do not agree with you so tha’s ok just answer, as well I forgot to mention that buying a dog is equal to slavery.

        3. I simply ask if they plan on adopting children. There are hundreds of millions of homeless children, so why are you bringing another child into the world when you can help one that’s starving, cold, malnourished, and in danger of a life of struggle and strife.

          Is it because you aren’t sure if you have the skills or time to raise a child that has extra needs? Afraid to bring an angry youth with a history of violence into your home? Know you’ll live in constant paranoia if you take on a child with potential medical issues that you will have to watch him or her suffer or worse, say goodbye to way too soon? Or maybe you just always imagined watching a child grow that might exhibit your laugh, your husbands athleticism, your mom’s spunk.

          I think adopting is honorable, amazing, selfless, and bold.

          But I don’t have the skills or time to properly retrain a grown dog. I do have the skills and time to train my Bernese Mountain Dog, as he is by nature very agreeable, calm, and needs little exercise.

          I am afraid of bringing a dog with a history of violence or unpredictable behavior in my home. I have other animals and children that I have already sworn a duty to protect, so I have to do what is right for them first and foremost. My responsible breeder has provided evidence that my BMD has no known behavioral problems ensuring I have done my due diligence to put my family first.

          I don’t want to say goodbye for as long as possible. Losing a dog is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through, and I won’t to prolong that for as long as possible. I can’t ensure it, but I was provided my dogs lineage longevity information, giving me the best shot at having a long happy life.

          He has the goofy BMD personality I always imagined. He has the lazy Sunday cuddle mentality I always imagined.

          I have done my part to ensure that I am able to give a dog a happy, health, wonderful life. I have done my part to ensure that there will be one less dog that ends up in a shelter because I got a dog that I can’t take care of.

          If you have a problem with that, I suggest you go shame your mother for not saving a child from Africa and instead having you.

        4. Rachel, I got my dog for very similar reasons. I needed to know that my dog could walk/run very long distances with me. If not, they would be left at home every other weekend! I also got him from a breeder who has one litter a year and treats every puppy in every litter like they are her own flesh and blood.I donate to shelters and care about all animals, but this breed was the only that would fit my lifestyle and there are only a few available for adoption each year. Ignore the trolls and enjoy loving your Weim!

        5. I agree with Erin, I have been volunteering at a local shelter for the past 2 years. During this time 2 dogs have been put down. We have been very lucky! However if it was not for the rescues that save our shelter babies we would have had to put hundreds of dogs down. I currently have 5 dogs and a foster. Of the 6, three are pure breed dogs, including a Yorkie, husky, and Maltese. Stricter breeding laws have to be made, if you are a good breeder you will not mind having to take the extra steps!

        6. Maybe we shouldn’t be buying certain dog breeds for hunting.. Maybe we should just have a dog for companionship instead of exploiting them for our own wants. The shelters will never be empty until breeding stops. I don’t care how responsible breeders are. There’s only one reason people breed animals, and that is for profit. So again, that’s exploitation of animals.. It’s wrong and immoral. Also, because you just have to have a certain breed, you are saying that another dog at a shelter is not good enough, and that dog will likely be put to sleep.

          1. Lindsay Stordahl

            I understand why people would want different types of dogs for different reasons. I’m glad we have the options.

      2. Kelly, as a breeder and one entrenched in both breed rescue and performance, my dogs as well as all of my breeder friends (who foster MANY rescue dogs created by irresponsible breeders – that is the difference) are never forced to have sex and run around freely doing MULTIPLE dog activities with my family and the families in which they are placed. My dogs are working breeds and love to run agility, barn hunt and hike on trails, we do these activities 4-5 times per week. I built a dog walking career around my dogs so for you to lump me and the thousands of breeder friends I have into your narrow category is unjust. You have been marketed to believe we are all puppy mills and one of the valid and obvious points to this blog is that there is a distinction. So before you pass judgement, there are good breeders. The issues with the homeless dogs are regional. In New England where I live we have spayed and neutered so many dogs that our shelters sit empty. We ship in feral dogs from the south, Puerto Rico, Korea and even China. Rescues are trying to turn profits. 55% of the US own purebred dogs, 45% own rescues. I work in both worlds. Breeds have existed for thousands of years and no dog is forced to have sex, they choose when, I choose who. Your puppy mills are where choice, freedom of space etc. do not exist, please do not confuse the two. I breed every 2-3 years and have waiting lists, not of people that I’m “stealing” from rescue but people that have grown up with this breed and want to know what to get from a healthy reputable breeder that allows their dogs to be dogs. People that rescue a dog and shove it in an apartment and feed it until they are so overweight are no better than the breeder description you have placed above. Or those that rip out vital organs so the dog cannot have the ability to fight cancer or grow properly or those that feed dry cancer filled kibble or those that overvaccinate so they’re vet can put a new extension on their house are the people being unfair to dogs. Really, “forcing dogs to have babies endlessly”, how about forcing your dog to have body parts removed because you can’t responsibly keep it from having sex, its not hard! I have intact dogs in my house that never mate, some never will but I don’t need to remove their organs because I am responsible. Dogs need fresh air, room to run and I provide that for them and yes I am a breeder. Before passing judgement educate yourself in the dog world around you. Puppy mills are no better than the rescues shipping in dogs from other countries. If we have such terrible pet population in our own country, why are we shipping dogs in?

        1. Lindsay Stordahl

          In San Diego County, there are no longer kill shelters, which is wonderful! There is a high demand for rescue dogs, which is also great! This means the county is able to rescue dogs from around the region and from other states or from Mexico. At rescue events, mixed-breed puppies get adopted immediately at $500 a piece. I’m happy to support the right rescue groups as well as the right breeders.

          1. There is no such thing as a “no kill” shelter. None. Anywhere. If an animal is deemed “unadoptable” their “euthanasia” is not counted towards the kill statistics. And why are still “allowed” to kill a certain number of animals and call themselves No kill. Also, animals can be deemed unadoptable for any number of absurd reasons. And they also can transport those animals to other shelters to have them killed. Over 1.2 million HEALTHY dogs are killed in shelters every year. And that number is probably a low estimate, due to under-reporting at rural shelters. Honestly. I am now unsubscribing from your page and email after this irresponsible and poorly researched article. Shame on ANYONE that claims to love animals and chooses to buy one instead of rescuing. I run a Rescue and will work with any responsible pet owner that wants to adopt. If a Rescue (whose primary responsibility is the safety of the dogs in our care) would not adopt to you, and you sought out multiple rescues …. br a breeder, whose primary goal is to make money, would adopt to you …. enough said.

      3. My thoughts exactly. So many dogs in shelters and in the streets and people keep breeding and breeding…for money. Yes, for money. No breeder will ever give puppies away for free. And in the meantime so many dogs die and suffer because people need to have a specific kind of breed based on THEIR needs. If you really care about the dog, you wouldn’t need a specific breed. Just a lovely dog.

        1. I just wanted to comment with a slight twist to this viewpoint… part of me thinks that if breeders are charging for their pups, it would encourage some people to adopt for free/a way smaller fee. In a weird way, I think it helps push the decision to adopt. I honestly feel like there is no way to solve this issue, but having both options balances everything out.

          Another thought I have is: if everyone decides to just adopt, then what ABOUT those dogs from breeders/stores? They will just end up dying too, because buying dogs is considered so “shameful” and no one will buy them? It just doesn’t make sense to me.

          Perhaps I haven’t read enough viewpoints or educated myself on the topic enough, but I feel like having both options – with encouragement to consider adoption first – is great.

        2. Bridgit Gilmore

          “No breeder will give a puppy away for free. ” Of course they won’t. They have tons of expenses and while they may make a small profit no breeder is getting rich from breeding. That’s what puppy mills do and they are a completely different kettle of fish.

          Having a bitch and keeping her healthy on good food while pregnant; whelping costs if there is need for a vet; special food for a nursing mother; worming up to 10 puppies; providing good quality food for puppies; microchipping all the puppies before they leave the home, these things all cost money. And only happen after both the bitch and the dog have passed expensive health tests appropriate to their specific breed. This is how a good breeder proceeds. They also provide lifelong advice and will take back a dog at any age should it become necessary. This is why people (like me) return to the same breeder time and again for years and years. I have had 4 dogs over the years from my breeder, she’s magic!

      4. Because I am a greedy person fueled by what I like and want. Such as certain shoes and clothes even food I like or don’t like. I WANT a certain breed I Will get one. And that is exactly what I did. I got the breed I want and also adopted a cat. Do I eventually want to adopt another dog yes… Will I adopt from a breeder again yes.

    3. I don’t like breeders. There are so many dogs to be adopted, I have 4 foreign dogs. They are not beautiful (to me they are), they won’t win prizes, but they are good enough for me. We don’t need breeders. Not for the next 100 years.

      1. All the dog breeds will be gone in 100 years and all there will be are mixed breeds breeding with mixed breeds until there is no such thing as a specific breed. How will new dogs be born? If you were to stop breeding dogs in less than 20 years will mostly all be dead and gone. Or do you just have strays breed with each other? Isn’t that what we’re trying to fix? If we were more strict on spaying/neutering, did not have puppy Mills, pet stores, backyard breeding, and bad breeders who only breed for a dogs looks instead of health then it would cut a large percentage of dogs and greatly reduced the number of dogs in shelters. I’m all about adoption and shelters but the fact that we want to live in a world where we just adopt unwanted dogs should not be the goal. It should be to get rid of shelters because there would be no unwanted dogs. I know that is impossible but that should be the goal we strive towards.

  2. Great post, Lindsay. The one point on which I’d quibble with you is that in my opinion, both rescuing and buying a dog can be a great (or neutral) thing. One choice is not great while the other is just okay. I consider them both morally neutral, and great for the individual people who find what works for them.

    The way I see it, morality in pet selection is not limited to where you get your pet but is also about making your best effort to select the pet that stands the greatest chance of staying happily in your home. For some people, that may be a rescue; for others, it may be a carefully, purposefully bred dog with known breed tendencies and a good idea of how those will manifest in the puppies. Both choices are and should be perfectly acceptable. And it should be perfectly acceptable that some of us will not rescue, and we don’t need a reason. I’ve been told it’s okay I didn’t rescue THIS time, because this is my first German Shepherd. I didn’t bother to respond, but I thought that was a ridiculous thing to tell someone. Rescuing is not a moral imperative. Making the most thoughtful choice I can and then making a commitment to my new pet is.

    Despite my previous rather flippant treatment of the phrase (“I’m done taking you seriously if you say this”), I find the “Adopt Don’t Shop” slogan to be deeply problematic. On a personal level, as an owner who loves her dog and invests a lot in her, it’s pretty insulting to hear that someone thinks my wonderful, stable, happy dog who is perfect for us shouldn’t even exist JUST because she was created on purpose. That alone was sufficient to alienate me to the degree that I’ve decided rescue is not an option I want to consider in the future, and I’m certain I’m not alone in that.

    But on a broader level, “Adopt Don’t Shop” has taken on a life of its own and is totally lacking in nuance. And it was marketed very, very effectively. As you point out, people now freely and vehemently apply it to any choice to purchase an animal over adopting from a shelter or rescue group, and the source of the purchased animal no longer matters. It’s rather Orwellian, really – you can almost hear the masses of barnyard animals chanting, “Four legs good! Two legs bad!”

    1. “And it was marketed very, very effectively.”

      I never really thought about this but it’s very possible a lot of people are making good money off of this. Maybe not a the of the bottom of the chain where we dwell but salaries do have to be paid to run these operations. There might be a dark underbelly to the whole thing.

      The “Wounded Warriors” story in the news right now is a good example of this.

      1. Yes – on multiple levels. You can buy merchandise emblazoned with, “Adopt Don’t Shop” or, “My Favorite Breed is Rescue.” It’s on apparel, bumper stickers, etc.

        What’s more, they have very effectively marketed the philosophy and an entire set of ethics that go with it: Their ethics. I’ve heard people practically apologizing for buying their dogs, or past dogs, saying they know better now. No. Rescue is perfectly valid, but it is not better. It’s just different. But enough people have been sold on these ideals that they truly feel they’ve done wrong if they’ve purchased a dog.

  3. I never really thought the phrase “Adopt, Don’t Shop” was aimed at true breeders so much as at pet stores and puppy mills. There are so many wonderful true dog lovers that love a particular breed so much that raising their dogs puppies brings them true joy.

    The “Adopt, Don’t Shop” campaign, and others like it, have definitely helped people realize just how terrible most pet stores are. Without it more dogs would surely die in shelters. Raising awareness is the true call of the slogan despite some well intention people taking it too far and making others feel guilty about buying a dog from a loving breeder.

    1. Scott, in my experience, it just didn’t matter that my puppy was from one of the top, most conscientious breeders in the country. She wasn’t rescued, so I had done a Very Bad Thing. I got that treatment from vets I interviewed, from rescue people I was volunteering with at the time, and from random people on the street. Trust me – it’s not aimed at any subgroup of breeders, it’s aimed at them all, regularly.

      1. There are certainly MANY in the rescue world who think that buying a dog is the WORST THING EVER. Even if it’s a dog from a reputable, very solid breeder who does all the right things and produces top of the line puppies. In fact, many of those people shout me down and tell me there ARE no good breeders. Ever. Which is ridiculous.

        And my dogs are both rescues! I have nothing against good breeders at all. I adopt because (a) I prefer adult dogs (and if a good breeder had a returned pup who needed a home when I was looking I wouldn’t think twice about adopting that dog!) and (b) Frankly, I don’t have the up front money to spend on a puppy from a reputable breeder. They’re costly. Sometimes $1000-2000. Then you have to factor in all the vaccinations + spay/neuter, etc. My rescue dogs cost $250 and $325 up front and both had their shots and were spayed/neutered before coming to me. Yes, I can afford a dog. But the up front costs of buying from the right breeder would be a lot for me. Instead, I can set that money aside for future vet bills and pet insurance.

        I do admit to having the “shop don’t adopt” thing on my car at one point. I bought it out of the need to make a statement and not once did I consider it might be aimed at reputable breeders. Mostly because when one thinks of “shopping” for a dog they’re thinking about buying from a pet store. So I was running around with it on my car probably offending all the good breeders I know.

        1. Yes, a good quality pup is costly for the first year or two. My pup’s purchase price was above the range you cited; frankly, given her pedigree, I probably still got a deal. We also did puppy vaccines and well pup visits, and the spay/gastropexy (which is more expensive than strictly a spay) once she was old enough, because the breed as a whole is prone to bloat. It’s an expensive endeavor.

          I once ran into someone who was truly upset – like oddly so, she took it really personally – that I would choose to spend that kind of money on a puppy when there were shelter dogs in need of homes. I didn’t share the dollar amount, just that is purchased my puppy, and she got upset. It was pretty awkward, and I didn’t know how to politely respond to that level of distress over a choice that had nothing to do with her.

          1. Lindsay Stordahl

            KL, I just had to laugh to myself reading this comment. There’s just nothing to say to people who get THAT upset over something that has nothing to do with them. I guess deep down they mean well and love dogs but what can you say?

          2. Lindsay, I pretty much did just end up laughing and being like, “I can’t help you, sorry.” There was nothing else to say, but it just struck me as so much of a “so strange it’s funny” situation that I just had to laugh.

          3. People who get all huffy about a choice someone makes really rile me up. And who’s to say you would want MULTIPLE rescue dogs anyway? I mean, I could take all the money I spend on training my dogs and get another shelter dog or two who were just pets and not sports dogs. But I don’t want 4 or 5 dogs. I want 2. So if you spend thousands on a purebred (and hey, lucky you that you can make that choice! I wish I had the money to even contemplate such a choice) or if you spend a few hundred on a shelter dog you still have ONE dog in ONE home.

    2. Well said, Scott. I use the phrase frequently but I surely never thought “all breeders are bad” and surely not that “puppies from a breeder are somehow second to shelter pups”. That kind of thinking is crazy. If we didn’t have some responsible breeders, breeds would slowly go the way of the T-Rex. Obviously breeding is a necessity. I’ve had the great pleasure of being guardian to many amazing dogs. Some were from breeders (bought) and some were adopted from shelters. I never thought of them any differently. Based on the comments, apparently a lot of people do think differently about breeder pups vs shelter pups.

      When I say #adoptdontshop, I am referring to puppy mills and irresponsible (home) “breeders” who do not have the knowledge of a responsible breeder. Some people just see dollar signs. I say love your pup no matter what route he took to get to your home.

  4. I don’t use the phrase either because I don’t like to tell people what to do. And I have friends who are breeders and others who want only purebred dogs for their own personal reasons. I think a lot of phrases are tossed about without any real examination of the implications.

  5. This post made me happy. I highly dislike the phrase. Don’t get me wrong I prefer to adopt, hell my ricka baby is a rescue pup. Just the concept makes me sad because if you think about it- if you don’t shop sometimes what happens to those furbabies? They too are at risk for put-down shelters and that’s just as bad because those puppies didn’t chose that life. Also I’d love to find a pure blooded german shepherd (from a reliable source of course) and don’t wanna feel like a monster for wanting a pure puppy. I got a shepsky now but I always wanted a sabel or blue/red german shepherd. I adore the breed. So the “Adopt Dont Shop” is just kind of harsh not just for people- but the furbabies pay for it too.

  6. I love all these comments!

    I want to say again I use the phrase– why? When I post on Instagram- a closed account followed by friends and family, I want them to see that you can get an amazing dog from a shelter. I too use to buy from breeders our husky who passed at 14 was from a breeder- but at the time I was one of hose people who thought dogs from the shelter where somehow bad dogs. As I got older I realized that’s not the case and that so many people feel as I once did.

    When my sister got a purebred gsp from a breeder, I didn’t shame her. She had the right to choose what she wants. Her right isn’t always my right. And she has an amazing wonderful puppy.

    I think today we live in a world of extreme opposites. And if you don’t agree your bad.

    I love purebreds just as much as my pit mixes and hound mixes. When I see purebred dogs on the street I don’t shame there owner but I bothering them to pet there dog.

  7. I’ve waffled using the phrase because I am not judgemental by nature, but I often use it as a hashtag to help a dog get more likes, notices and shares on social media.

    I prefer the phrase “Opt to adopt”, but it doesn’t have a big hashtag following, and ultimately, I’m trying to reach as many people as possible. I don’t know that using the phrase “Adopt Don’t Shop” is meant as judging, but rather a catchy phrase to help raise awareness. Yes, of course, some people are rabid with their ideas of right and wrong, but I think most people are like me and just trying to help the dogs that are looking for homes.

    1. As soon as I see that phrase, I’m done. I don’t volunteer with or donate money to organizations who use that phrase in their materials or social media posts, or if their known volunteers do.

      It tells me that either these people actually believe the phrase in a literal sense and don’t see why it’s problematic, or they do see why and don’t care. Neither is a person I want to help, because we clearly do not share principles on the topic.

      1. I had no idea that the phrase was something that some people consider to be so offensive. There a lot of us who do not judge where someone gets a dog, all that matters is how they treat their dog once they have it. I consider myself to be in that camp. I am sorry that so many people are so quick to judge and try to make responsible dog lovers feel badly for the choices that are right for them.

        I think the general public (where I am at least) still buy their dogs from pet stores and backyard breeders more often than they buy from ethical breeders. I still remember the awkward feeling of trying to explain why I was traveling 8+ hours to get my new puppy to neighbors when the local pet store had the same breed. They judged me, and I felt awkward, I knew what was right for me.

        It is just a stupid semantics thing, but I also feel like “shop” implies going to the pet store and buying a puppy in the window. When I bought my puppy from a breeder, I didn’t shop. Shopping, to me, is going to a store, finding what I want, paying for it and taking it home. Getting a dog from a good breeder isn’t like that. I researched. I applied. I hoped I would be approved; it didn’t feel like shopping at all. It seemed more similar to getting accepted to college than anything else. Or maybe getting approved to adopt a dog from a rescue.

        I regret that a simple phrase lost me a potential reader, but I appreciate knowing your viewpoint.

        1. Beth, it wouldn’t be offensive on its face if it wasn’t shoved down people’s throats when they even consider any route other than rescue. My dog is almost 2 now. I’ve been hearing this vitriol for almost 3 years, first from friends and acquaintances with whom we made the mistake of sharing that we put a deposit on a puppy, and then from people we met when out with our new puppy.

          I said this already but I’ll mention again that in my city, rescuing is considered the trendy thing to do. If you mention getting a dog, it is assumed you will rescue. People will talk at length about what awful situations their dogs came from, it’s almost a badge of honor to have gotten a dog that came from the worst possible situation. Fine if that works for you, no judgment from me (unless your dog has issues and you push it on my dog, then I will silently judge), but then don’t push that agenda on me. I don’t go around offline talking about how breeder puppies are the only right way to go. But if it’s rescue, people have carte blanche to not only make that kind of assertion but also try to force me to listen to their negativity. It is simply bizarre, but there it is.

          So I pretty much simply refuse to take people seriously anymore once I see that phrase. I quietly take note and give a nice wide berth. I’ve learned from experience that there is no room for nuance with these people. It isn’t worth the headache and spiking blood pressure to even engage.

  8. I think that people get worked up about things that don’t need to be. I think not everthing is black and white. I have used ADOPT DON’T SHOP at the one pet store in my town that I have taken part in protests. He gets his dogs from Hunte corp. He openly admits it on his website. My neighbor bought a dog from him which was said to be a Standard Poodle. He came with AKC papers, well…he’s maybe 20 lbs soaking wet, by no means the breed standard. Upon looking at his papers ( which showed multiple generations) he’s from a breeder in Missouri. Puppy mill capital of the US. I have a phone book of breeders that call on me or I call on when making trips to get their unwanted breeder dogs or puppies they can’t sell. Most come to us without even a rabies vaccine. We even took 2 puppies, from two different litters that the breeder called warpadites (I can’t make this stuff up) they were hermaphrodites. I can go into a laundry list of bad breeders.
    On the other hand I have never shamed anyone for getting their dog from a REPUTABLE BREEDER. I don’t think that’s fair. I know there’s great breeders out there that can match you to the dog you need for your family. Unfortunately these are not usually the breeders that call upon us in rescue. I have only once called a breeder for advise on a Sheltie I was fostering for some training advise. I can’t recall a time a REPUTABLE BREEDER has called on our rescue for help.
    We have shelters we work with, vets, trainers and kennels. I feel you do no one any justice when you start slamming doors shut because you never know when you may need someones service.
    Maybe the slogan can be changed a little as to not offend everyone, but I think people need to relax a little. I have yet to see anyone outside of a REPUTABLE BREEDERS home with this sign. Not to say it has never nor will ever happen. I always tell people to do their research. Maybe we can turn that into a sign.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I like what Beth said, “Opt to Adopt.” I also don’t mind the “Rescued is my favorite breed.” I would wear a shirt with that slogan.

      1. Cathy Springfield

        Nice, opt to adopt is just as catchy and rescue is my favorite breed does’t defame REPUTABLE BREEDER as mentioned.

    2. Vanessa, the problem is that you are a reasonable person! And reasonably, you assume others are reasonable also.

      I live in an area in which rescuing is trendy and when you mention getting a dog, it’s assumed/expected you will rescue. I have encountered so many anti-breeder pro-rescue zealots (no other word for the fanaticism). I have to be careful about talking to people about my dog out in the community if I want to avoid the rescue vs breeder discussion. I tend not to apologize for buying her, but with that comes the lectures and dirty looks from total strangers who don’t care that she’s from an excellent breeder (but to whom it frankly shouldn’t matter and shouldn’t be up for debate anyway).

      You are reasonable. You are the very very rare exception. Most people in my experience are just not. Unfortunate but true.

  9. Lindsay Stordahl

    I’ve enjoyed the thoughtful comments, and I know this can be an emotional topic so thank you all for being respectful. I received a private message today expressing disappointment in my “anti-rescue” attitude. That is what’s unfortunate, when people can only view things in black and white. If I support responsible breeders I must automatically be anti rescue.

    1. And there lies the problem. Complete one track closemindedness. Your post was very clear on your position. Adoption is a honorable and great way to help those animals in need find homes, but saying that all breeders shouldn’t be given the opportunity to to prove themselves is ridiculous. From your post, I took away from it that your position is clearly adoption is a wonderful and preferable way to go, however lumping all breeders into the cesspool of puppy mills is not accurate and not fair to those who have purchased dogs from a breeder that was beyond adequately checked out and proven to be reputable. The bottom line is do your background checking and legwork before you purchase or adopt for that matter. Well said post, sorry they didn’t get your well said point.

  10. We don’t use that phrase either. Some of us are from shelters, some are from breeders. Both options have their time and place, neither is better or worse than the other. We often get tired of the breeder bashing. There are a lot of good reasons to get a dog from a good breeder, just as there are great reasons to rescue a dog.

  11. KL, Thank you. I literally laughed out loud reading your message to me. Not in a bad way (more so that my husband may disagree lol). I do know there are many extremists in life and those are the ones that ruin it for the reasonable ones.
    Our rescue has been around for 13 yrs. I’ve been a board member for the last 3. Since another woman and myself started heading it, the rescues fb page has grown from 1500 likes to over 30,000. I think that has to do with us being reasonable. We have let volunteers go because they have bashed other rescues or just create drama. It takes away from what the cause is and leaves a bad taste in others mouths. That is something we just don’t tolerate. I have children of my own and refuse to babysit adults. I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with simpletons.
    My only hope is to weed out the good breeders from the bad and educate the public on ways of adding the right one into their home. I’ve been to far too many puppy mills and have seen the parents that get little to no medical attention. Infected eyes, infected skin folds, urine burns, toe nails curled, matted fur, paws splayed from the surface they live on, to name just a few. I feel if the public saw those places they would avoid purchasing/ supporting that kind of breeding. I would LOVE for pet owners to run to the rescues and reputable breeders.

    1. Yeah, what you describe is horrible. Nobody I know who has gone any route for a dog would knowingly support that kind of cruelty. That’s beyond terrible and certainly something I’ve been fortunate not to see. I feel lucky that in the community of owners I’m around, I can say that people don’t buy from places like that. Because there are some excellent breeders in my area, I had the absolute luxury of getting nitpicky when choosing one in my region. I wanted one who was as picky as I was! The others I researched but didn’t contact are also great, ethical breeders who produce good dogs, it was little subjective things that made me choose somebody else. That might be a rare wealth of responsible breeders, I don’t know.

      The Twin Cities are a good place to be, though, if you’re a dog in need of a home. People are in general pro-rescue. Very vocally so. They generally aren’t out there buying intact puppies from breeders and then doing the backyard thing on the sly. I took a lot of heat for refusing to spay my girl until she was older (okay that might be the worst pun ever but I’m leaving it), and most people do it at the latest by 6 months. It’s a city that loves its pit bulls and Minnesota bans municipalities from BSL. I can see some potential downsides to all of that, but we don’t seem to have as much of a problem. So in some ways, it’s a good place to be if you’re a dog. And that probably has shaped the circumstances that led to my really negative experiences with the pro-rescue camp.

  12. Great post. While I choose to always adopt or rescue, I would never condemn someone for buying. In some cases, where it might come up in the conversation, I might mention that care is needed when buying in order to make sure one isn’t buying from a puppy mill. But I only bring it up if it comes up naturally in the conversation and not just out of the blue like I’m making assumptions.

  13. Cathy Springfield

    We love our 2 rescue dogs but as we move into our 70 years young, our next dog(s) we may want to buy from a breeder so that we can predict a little better what kind of temperament we will need.

  14. I wholeheartedly agree with this Lindsay! It is unfair to stereotype every breeder into this category and use that phrase against them. While I promote adoptions to the fullest and would promote it first and foremost, it doesn’t work for everyone. There are completely reputable, honest and top rate breeders out there who deserve the benefit of the doubt. A better term would be Adoption is an option, look into it before you make your final decision. Not as catchy, but not as close minded or stereotypical as well.

    1. Devil’s advocate: By the time my pup came home, I was SO OVER anyone even asking me if I had considered rescue. Yes, for like a second to rule it out (small pets already in the home, kids in extended family, breed with a lot of health and temperament problems, my husband stipulated a puppy and I needed to know the genetic background – rescue was not an option for us). I realize that each of those people probably independently felt it was their duty to ask, but it got really old (even older when they then went on to lecture me – only a few took the hint and stopped when I said, “Nope! Deposit is in” and tried to change the subject). I kind of wanted to answer like I wanted to answer people who asked me when I was going to have babies: “Every time someone asks me, the countdown restarts at ten years.”

      I would prefer nobody said anything other than, “New pup! How exciting!” When taking each well meaning person individually, it probably seems like I’m being unkind and nitpicky, but there’s a cumulative effect there that makes the question or public service announcement incredibly annoying.

  15. There are so many dogs and cats needing homes, including purebreds in shelters, that it does not make sense to ever purposefully breed an animal rather than give a home to the existing animals already waiting for a home.
    Breeding them, no matter how well they may be treated, still treats them as something to use rather than someone.

  16. While I have never shamed anyone for buying from a breeder, I never thought that I would consider it. After recently losing our 16 yo dog, I have started to think about it. My husband would like to get a certain breed of dog that he grew up with. These dogs are not common where we live. I have just started to look at shelters and have even resorted to looking at rescues. One shelter wanted me to agree to pay them $1000 if I ever to re-homed the dog to anyone but them! They are at least 6 hours from where we live. A rescue required you to agree to never use the dog to hunt and these dogs were bred specifically for this purpose! They are not lap dogs. I will continue to look to adopt for a while, but will attempt to find a breeder if I can not find this type of dog at reasonable distance from my home or I am required to agree to ridiculous terms. Thanks for another common sense article. It’s a breath of fresh air.

  17. TC – you are so very confused my dear! So many GOOD breeders I know breed to better the gene pool, instincts and breed traits in their litter. Breeding isn’t about ‘treating dogs well’. There purpose is to strengthen breeds so that we don’t (by our own greed and selfishness) wind up with dishwater / unpredictable character traits and dogs not fit for funtion because they have been irresponsibly inbred/crossbred – our water dogs no longer swim, our herding dogs no longer react, our police dogs no longer guard?? This is a fantastic article and I too am in disbelief that anyone could confuse these two separate issues, To cease to breed pedigree dogs is akin to committing 1000’s of breeds to extinction. The gene pool we are left with would be dogs with no history, unknown ancestry, unpredictable temperaments and multiple times the number of dogs in pounds! How very simplistic to assume this is a solution.

  18. My husband and I recently got a puppy from a breeder. It’s something we’d talked about for years. We picked our breed and breeder very carefully and got to know them and their family very well and even now consider them friends. When we finally brought our puppy home and wanted to share our news with our friends over social media, the backlash was pretty harsh and immediate. I have always been a supporter of rescue pets, have had many of my own and still have 2 rescue cats at home (one of which I found on the street at a week old and bottle fed myself), and I am 100% against puppy mills and pet stores. But despite all that, I felt that many close friends and family were outraged that we bought a dog instead of adopting, even though we bought a dog we felt was well-suited for our family from a responsible breeder. Now I feel pretty un-inspired to participate in adoption-promoting events, fundraisers, city council meetings, etc, like I used to because I feel like an unwelcomed hypocrite. So to answer your question, the “adopt-don’t-shop” campaign, while full of good intentions, alienates a lot of people who could otherwise help the cause. We love our dog and don’t regret our choice, but it’s hard to feel sympathy for people who assume the worst about you – That if you buy a dog, no matter how or why, you obviously don’t care about rescues. What a shame.

  19. This is the most manipulative article I have ever read. The whole point of “adopt dont shop” IS to make people who buy from pet shops or breeders feel guilty. The more dogs that are bred, the less dogs get adopted. Where do you think those unwanted dogs go? And the majority of these dogs are full bred breeds, dumped by owners who decided it was too much work to care for them, and they dump them off like you’d dump your old clothes at a resale shop.

    Where do you think the dogs you get tired of and take to the shelters end up? They like to make it sound nicer by saying “put to sleep”.. but the truth is THEY KILL THEM! Of course breeders want you to think it’s okay to buy a bred dog instead of adopting a dumped full breed dog at a shelter.. because that is how they earn money.

    Are you ignorant enough to be manipulated by this article? Or are you smart enough to see through it? ADOPT, DONT SHOP FROM A STORE OR BREEDER! If you shop, a shelter dog will be killed!

    1. That is a lot of anger, Keely. Do you think that’s an effective approach to take on someone who chose to research a breed and buy from a good breeder, or do you think it probably just shows as being as manipulative as you claim this article to be? I don’t take guilt trips, so a campaign designed to make people feel guilty does nothing but annoy me and push me away. I’ve heard that line about the shelter dog I’ve killed so many times that I just laugh to myself and shake my head; if I didn’t have my dog, or a dog like her, I wouldn’t have any dog. So that shelter dog was out of luck if it was counting on me. But yup, I got out the needle and pointed and said, “That one.” *eyeroll*

  20. Lindsay, I have two rescue dogs and two purpose dogs. My rescue dogs could never do the job my purpose dogs do and I wouldn’t want them to. They have their own jobs to do and they do them will. My purpose dogs were bread to do specific jobs and again they do them well. The community pack we belong to helps the people that get their dogs from the shelter or a breeder that has issues or they just want to socialize their dogs. My four dogs each have a roll in this pack to work with different issues and problems. You have to have the right tool for the job. My Chihuahua can’t do the job that my Rottie does! And the same with the other two. Each person has a specific reason for getting a pet, and each pet has a specific purpose. No matter where they come from. Our pack leaders dog passed about a year and a half ago. So he came to me and ask how I was able to justify getting two of my dogs from a breeder? I told him I researched the different breeds to see which one was best for the job I wanted them to do, and how much good breeding had to do with the job at hand. Then I found the best breeder I could. He ended up finding the best puppy for him and his wife through a very good breeder! If someone is going to build a house the are not going to buy a jig saw to cut timbers with.

  21. I completely understand a person buying a good quality purebred dog, from a reputable breeder, for a specific purpose such as competition, breeding for show and the betterment of the breed, tracking work or a certain job, etc. Also reputable breeders sometimes rehome retired show dogs, etc. as fine pets. I have been offered Norfolk Terriers and Italian Greyhounds who were retired show dogs. (They weren’t a fit for me at the time.)

    However, I think Adopt, don’t shop is aimed rightfully at those seeking a household pet and companion. The general public is often uneducated on dogs and unable to differentiate a reputable breeder from a puppy mill dealer. If what a person wants is a nice companion animal, there are so many shelters and rescues will good animals waiting for homes. When the adopter wants a specific breed appropriate to their lifestyle and preferences, nearly any breed may be found, even somewhat rare breeds like Manchester Terriers, Dogues de Bordeaux, and so forth.
    My adopted purebred Dachshund, Min Pin, and multiple Bostons have all brought me great joy.

  22. Lindsay Stordahl

    My general observation is there is a lot of anger coming from some of the people who choose to adopt/rescue dogs. It’s good to remind myself that it’s a small percentage of people who respond with this anger. Most of the people who choose to adopt (myself included) or volunteer with rescues (myself included) are rational and supportive of all dog lovers.

    This article is not “pro rescue” or “pro breeder.” It’s both. This is not about choosing sides, it’s about working together.

    1. To be fair, there is a lot of anger aimed towards the #adoptdontshop believers as well, it’s just that these people would have no reason to comment on this post – they agree with you.

      I myself am a #adoptdontshop believer. Perhaps it’s because I’m more of a cat person – as much as I’d love a Norwegian Forest cat or a Bengal, I also adore ‘mutt’ cats just as much, and have grown up with them. My feeling is, if a specific breed ends up in a rescue whilst I’m looking for a cat to adopt, it’s fate.

      I have many dog owning friends who have dogs from breeders, and in their cases, I see nothing wrong with it. However, they also support the actual #adoptdontshop movement in every way they can – one volunteers in a shelter!

      I think the idea that #adoptdontshop is offensive is a little ridiculous, if I’m honest. Just because you are offended by something does not mean it is ‘offensive’. The #adoptdontshop movement is to raise awareness of some problems that CAN be caused by breeders, and to encourage people to think about whether they really want a particular breed, or just a companion. To take offense at a phrase that has absolutely zero offense in it’s aim is a bit bizarre. Sure, don’t use it if it doesn’t represent your views, but don’t discredit the benefits of the movement.

      1. Lindsay Stordahl

        Yep, I don’t think we need anger from anyone, just a willingness to work together – breeders, rescues, shelters, dog owners, etc.

  23. I have been confused by that since it has been used. The phrase makes me think the only way I can get an animal is through the animal shelter or something. This is very good to save an animal which I have done several times. But I have also gotten baby animals from great breeders. You are right, in my opinion not to use the tag line. You are not being overly sensitive at all. Maybe we could come up with something else so we are showing our favor in rescuing but buying from a breeder who is responsible is okay too.

  24. I concur that the turn of phrase (one which I do not care for) was originally coined to raise awareness with regard to pet shop purchases and the puppy mills that supply them. I cringe every time the rescue I foster and volunteer with chooses to use it when promoting our adoptable dogs. I agree that “opt to adopt” or “adoption as an option” would be better put to that use. I grew up in an era where all of our family dogs were acquired via families needing to re-home one animal or another. I have three dogs, one from each avenue, so to speak: one from a litter of mixed breed pups a friend wasn’t even aware her dogs had created, whom I paid nothing for. One a breed not found easily where we lived, which my husband had grown up with and dearly wanted one of his own, which also happened to be from an “oops” litter and not bred intentionally, though a rather small fee (by other standards) was involved, and one adopted from the same rescue I foster for, that adoption fee costing the same as the previous dog’s. I have a few good friends who are reputable, conscientious breeders. I have a friend who echoes the anti-breeder argument made above by some. As I am a part of the rescue world, I can see and understand all sides of the issue. No one person is right or wrong- we all have our individual beliefs and preferences. I also know that a responsible, legitimate, careful breeder puts as much time and effort into the care, raising, training, health and adoption of one of their dogs as a rescue does. Both often require reference checks, home visits, and an extensive adoption contract- which specifically states, in either case, that the dog be returned in the event the adopter can no longer care for it. In some cases, a breeder’s adoption contract may require the dog be fed a specific food. Spay/neuter is also a condition of both shelter/rescue and breeder contracts. Reputable breeders always take their dogs back. Those are “their” “babies”- their life’s work. Many such breeders are also actively involved in breed specific rescues inherent to their breed of choice, and spend a lot of time educating the public on the needs and personalities of their dogs. Neither a rescue/shelter or a reputable breeder makes a profit from any adoption fee collected- that fee reimburses a breeder for medical health screenings, food and veterinary care just as much as it does a rescue. I can tell you that, from a rescue’s standpoint, the adoption fee actually barely begins to cover all of that, actually. Rescues depend quite a lot on donations and fundraisers. It’s also quite routine for the adoption fee of a puppy or kitten to be higher than that of an adult animal of same- not only due to additional veterinary costs incurred with regard to the need, or state requirement for, multiple vaccine boosters, but also to ensure that the person adopting the young animal is serious about their commitment. Perhaps, in that regard “adopt don’t shop” applies more to making a careful, well thought out decision, rather than the knee-jerk reaction known as impulse buying, which happens in instances where folks see a cute pup in a store window. People need to be aware of the distinct difference there is between breeding for profit (exorbitantly priced puppy mill dogs- many of them the mixes or crosses cleverly marketed with certain cutesy, combined/fused breed names, when they really are just designer mutts- bred as cheaply as possible and marked up outrageously, and careful, controlled, limited breeding. A legitimate breeder does not profit from their dogs. They breed and participate in the sport of showing for conformation because it is a true passion for them, for the type of dog and activity it was created for. They breed with the most attentive care to health, temperament and personality possible, to preserve healthy genetic lineage. Many of today’s breeds wouldn’t exist at all, if not for such breeders, and many other old breeds are extinct for lack of same. No, we no longer live in an age where dogs are needed for certain jobs or activities(at least in first world countries, and thanks to technology and other modern inventions) the way they once were. Yes, there are people out there whose goal is a certain aesthetic which is not healthy or even functional with regard to certain breeds. Learn and understand the differences between those folks, puppy mills, backyard breeders, and Breeders. Understand that there is also a huge divide on the issue that is largely geographical. Not only, as mentioned in the comments, is there a shortage of dogs up North while the Southern states struggle under pet overpopulation, there’s also a definite difference in the awareness and education of the two locales. In the south, many dogs are still used on working farms/ranches, and it’s quite common for farmers/ranchers to be lax on veterinary care (spay/neuter) for their working animals. The attitude is that any money spent on animals is to be spent on the animals being reared to sell for food, rather than on those doing the work. Up north, the focus is more on dogs as pets and family members. People tend to continue on in the habits, beliefs and perceptions upon which they were raised. They do things the way their parents’ and their parents’ parents’ did them. Not everyone stops to think, or question. You do what works for your individual needs, lifestyle and preference. It’s all a matter of perception.

    I don’t consider acquiring a dog from a breeder to be “shopping”, nor do I believe it to be included under the “adopt don’t shop” label.

    It’s time to get rid of such labels.

    I was out walking my 3 dogs one day when a lady unknown to me approached us, put her hands out to greet them (without asking) and started in on me about “are these rescue dogs?” with a dirty look that warned me I’d better think twice before answering, even though, as I’ve stated above how each of my dogs came about, I had nothing to be guilty of. That’s another peeve of mine-people who use their rescued dogs as a status symbol. If you acquired your dog from a rescue, the dog WAS rescued, but calling it a “rescue dog”, in my opinion is inaccurate. The label of “rescue” dog, should be limited to, and reserved for “Search and Rescue” (S&R) dogs. You adopted your dog. You adopted from a specific shelter or rescue. Say that. Promote that shelter or rescue. Don’t label your dog like it’s a certain expensive brand of clothing, or a celebrity name you are dropping. You adopted a dog. An animal shelter or dog rescue gets the credit. BUT, he/she is YOUR dog now. RescuED. Ok. Don’t be lazy and drop the “d”. It’s a RESCUED dog, not a “rescue dog”. It was acquired via a rescue, but, again, it’s YOUR dog now. Are you going to continue to label the dog, to limit it by keeping focus on the dog’s past life, or let them be free of it and be the dog living the life they are now?

    1. A few responses to your comment (which was very well written and very well thought out):

      1) I’ve seen a high level of oneupmanship among some people who very vocally promote rescue as the only morally valid route. It’s like the Four Yorkshiremen only with dogs – whose rescue(d) dog had it worse before coming to live with them. It is actually pretty humorous.

      2) There are very definitely regional differences. Rescues local to me bring in dogs from other parts of the country or from abroad. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. There is a market for rescued dogs, and I think it’s a win/win if people want to rescue and dogs are available. However, I also think it’s disingenuous to say we have an overpopulation problem in all areas of the country and that we are obligated to rescue rather than go to a good breeder.

      3) I still laugh at the lady who was loving on my new puppy and then asked, “Where did you rescue her from?” When I told her my pup was actually from a show kennel, she physically recoiled. It was one of the funniest responses I’ve ever seen.

      4) Interestingly, I now volunteer with a rescue as my time permits, and a lot of the volunteers got one or more of their dogs from breeders. Many of the dogs owned by volunteers are rescued or are foster fails, but many are from breeders.

      1. Lindsay Stordahl

        It’s great to hear many of the volunteers have both breeder dogs and rescues! Is it a shepherd rescue group? Ive thought about volunteering with a weim rescue.

  25. I am a breeder, exhibitor, professional dog trainer AND “rescuer” and lover of all animals. Currently my focus is BUYING 1-2 horses per year from the feedlot/kill pens and finding them appropriate homes. Notice I say BUY a horse. It’s not really rescuing it’s buying, whether you buy from a breeder or buy from a shelter so we should DROP the drama and call it like it is. I deplore the attitude of animal rightist that don’t really want to allow people any choices of pets at all. Most of them don’t even understand the goal of the belief they support. There is RARELY a purebred in a shelter as purebred rescue bails them out. Animals are shipped in from other countries to fill shelters empty of animals to adopt. I could go on an on about the FACTS of the pet trade in this country but it would only start a web war. Why? This is a free country if I remember correctly. You can purchase your pet from where ever you would like. The best thing the educated can do is teach those seeking knowledge the facts not fill their minds with guilt and propaganda. The mutt or purebred debate is a kin to the prejudice of race or religion and that’s something my mother told me it was impolite to discuss with people as difference is what makes the world interesting. Amen to that!

  26. I’ve actually reformed my thinking on this.

    We SHOULD be shopping for our pets. Whether we get them from a good breeder or reputable rescue, we should shop. We should stop, think about what we really want in a pet, and think about what we really don’t. Then we should compare the hell out of all sources we are considering. We should see how they stack up against each other and how their offerings stack up against what we want. That kind of shopping takes a lot of time and effort – but we should be shopping.

  27. Thank you!! I’m so tired of people shaming me for wanting to buy a pure blood puppy. Why am I a monster just because I don’t want some random mutt? It’s MY money and MY choice. I’m not responsible for the stray dogs in the world. People need to get off their high horses and let everyone else make their own decisions. They make it sound like dogs are getting killed every single day because of over-populated and under-funded shelters. They’re clearly just after money so I really don’t see why there’s so much hate for breeders. Breeders do it because it’s important for humans to maintain control of canine bloodlines. What would happen if the English bulldog died out? How will adopting fix THAT?

  28. The “Adopt Don’t Shop” people are absolutely against breeders. I’ve spoken to several of them and they all say that no one should breed animals when there are so many homeless cats and dogs out there. Sometimes they try to enact legislation that would make it impossible for people to purposely breed pets. These activists are well-meaning but ignorant. I asked one if she knew the difference between “pet quality” and “show quality,” and she said that she thought “pet quality” meant that the animal had been abused!!! So ignorant! A pet from a breeder is less likely to have been abused than a rescue pet. Breeders love cats and dogs; they put a lot of time, effort & money into breeding the healthiest pets possible. A pet from rescue may have been saved from a neglectful and abusive situation by animal control. Or it may have been a feral animal. You just don’t know what you’re getting with rescue. I hate the “Adopt Don’t Shop” activists. They managed to shut down a few pet stores in my area, profitable family businesses that sold dogs with AKC papers and cats with TICA papers. The Adopt-Don’t-Shop activists had no proof whatsoever that the animals from the pet shops came from “mills.”
    By the way, there is no legal definition of “puppy mill.” There are only animal cruelty laws. I asked the activists what proof they had that the pet store or supplying breeders were guilty of animal cruelty. They had no proof; they just kept hysterically repeating that the pets had come from “puppy mills.” These people don’t know what they’re talking about, and even worse, they try to impose their own preferences on others through legislation! If I want to adopt a pet from a breeder, because I find a particular breed to be aesthetically pleasing, that should be my right. These stupid activists have no business taking other people’s choices away; they are tyrannical.
    The slogan “Adopt Don’t Shop” is misleading. Most rescues & shelters charge a fee, so yes, they are selling animals, and you are *shopping* at a shelter or rescue. When I buy a pet from a breeder, I am “adopting” as much as any other pet owner because I am committing myself to loving and caring for the pet.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Thankfully it’s only a small group of people who are that extreme, but I hear ya. It’s not helpful.

  29. Lindsay Stordahl

    This post is all about how breeders and rescues ideally will work together. It is not about choosing one over the other as better. It’s not better to buy a dog or better to adopt a dog. We all have to choose what’s best for our situation. Working together is the key here, not choosing a “side.”

  30. I read your “reasons”. My second rescue, who would’ve been put down if I’d returned her because she’d already been returned to the pound twice: Chocolate Lab, pure, hunting-trained, you could shoot right next to her and she wouldn’t flinch and could retrieve as well as any, with a mouth soft as butter. Major problem: passivity pissing, from a crowded house of 64 labs, all with their vocal chords severed by one vet to keep the breeder’s neighbors from complaining, including her own puppies – before she was 2 yrs old. Problem fixed in 3 days with love and “How To Be Your Dog’s Best Friend” book. Right now? My 9 yr old pure Newfoundland is laying on her bed, in this apartment where I also could not adopt from a pound. I rescued her from craigslist; her family was being deployed. Like the 8 yr old Newfie mix I’d adopted before her, she’d never been in water; I’m near Puget Sound, so I gave them what they’d never had, from my studio apt living on SocSec. No excuses. Waste your money and their lives to the tune of one million euthanized every year in the wealthiest nation in history if you please, but don’t rationalize it. I’ve rescued two purebreds in 35 yrs and three Class A mutts. My 18 yr old lil guy just passed away in January, in my arms, after 16 yrs together. Now that I’m a senior and slowed down, I rescue older ones. My Newf was 5; she had health issues and would’ve been euthanized in a shelter for sure. Now she’s 9, and in better shape than when she was 5. No excuses. Just your preference and wasted money on perceived ‘superior’ dogs, and lack of patience. I hope you’re not a teacher or a parent. Honestly.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Sorry to read such a hurtful comment from you. That’s wonderful you’ve adopted so many dogs. I hope you are able to adopt more dogs in the future.

  31. My husband and I talked about getting a dog over 2 years. I always knew that I would adopt a dog. Unfortunately, we ended up buying a dog. After we got her I always felt guilty for that choice. The way that I look at it now is that yes I purchased it but I save her life too. Chewy is loved and cared for. My daughter’s side kick and I can not imagine our life without her. I never say how I got her and when I’m asked…I always reply does it make make a difference? Is like asking a person how did you get your child? Just my opinion…We love our a dog! As long as they are loved who cares how you got the dog.

  32. I would only ever have a rescue dog. You can get pretty much any breed of dog/puppy as a rescue if you look hard enough, and any sort of personality traits and physical characteristics.

    I currently have a failed working sheepdog who every day walks/runs 15-18 miles a day off lead and is faultlessly obedient. His predecessor was a beautiful, kind, gentle, bombproof OES, who was completely devoted to me, and I have an elderly JRT cross,who is the most intelligent dog I have ever met.

    I know rescue dogs can have problems and that can put people off. My sheepdog is scared of men and strangers due to an abusive background, (but is now unrecognisable from the dog he was after only a year with us), my OES was very nervous when we rehomed her and would wet herself if you touched her, and my JRT hates most other dogs (I’ve been trying and failing to fix this for the past 9 years!) However, I think all dogs have a problem in some area or other, regardless of their backgrounds (at least all the dogs I’ve met!)

    I try to understand why people get puppies- they are cute and a ‘clean slate’, but personally I wouldn’t condone buying a puppy in the majority of cases. Hate that people make so much money from breeding their dogs too. Another thing is that breeding your dog can put it at a lot of risk if you are not an experienced breeder, and people seem to forget this.

    Rescue dogs, especially crossbreeds can be so much healthier than purebred dogs. A lot of purebred dogs I know have health problems. My OES had terrible hip dysplasia and arthritis throughout her life. She tragically died at the age of three and from what I can gather it is likely she was purebred, due to the limited numbers of the breed.

    However, I think there’s definitely an exception regarding breeding when it comes to saving dog breeds from extinction, like the Dandie Dinmont Terrier. I agree with breeding in order to save breeds that are in danger.

    On the otger hand overpopulation is a huge problem.vIt breaks my heart when people breed Staffies/buy them as puppies. Rescue kennels in the UK are bursting at the seams with gorgeous unwanted Staffies desperate for good, loving homes.

    Really dislike the fad of people breeding crossbreeds that are sold for a lot of money and given ridiculous names like “Jugs” and “Sproodles” and “Cockapoos” – wish people would just call them crossbreeds…crossbreeds are great without fancy names!

    I really like the That Mutt blog. I think you are brave for writing about something that people often have strong feelings about like this topic! I for one definitely have a lot of opinions on breeding- read lots of articles on here but never posted in the comments before, hope what I’ve written is okay and not offensive.

    Thanks for your blog posts and different perspectives- really interesting things to consider. 🙂

  33. My last two dogs have come from a breeder who breeds for physical, mental, and emotional healthy dogs. I have had rescues. Dogs that I loved and cared for until the end of their days. I have spent literally thousands of dollars getting and keeping these rescues as healthy as possible. I have spent hours in training dealing with the problems associated with their previous owners. I have also dealt with the issues that could not be dealt with by training and vet appointments realizing that if I did’t keep the dog, it would probably be euthanized. Are my current dogs perfect, no but the problems are of my own making. My vet bills are normal vet bills associated with routine shots and check ups. At this point in my life, I don’t have the time, emotional and financial resources to deal with the myriad of problems typically associated with rescues. I applaud those who do.

  34. Hayden Nicole

    Hi Lindsay, I am currently researching for a Speech on Adopt Don’t Shop and happened to run across your blog. I am glad to know there are people out there that do recognize the issues and stigmas that come with the phrase.
    I am a third generation breeder. My family has been breeding dogs since the 40’s. although our breeds have changed a few times, Australian Shepherds have been the “chosen one” since the early 80’s.
    I like what your friend said about breeders working together with rescue groups and shelters. My mother ran a breed specific rescue group for a long time when I was young. There goal was to save and foster all Boxers that came into the surrounding shelters. Not only did they track down the families of possible lost dogs, they tracked down any possible breeders who may have bred the foster dog. They saved thousands of dogs from being euthanized.
    Today as breeders we spend thousands of dollars and countless hours ensuring the dogs we breed have clean bills of health. We Xray their hips and elbows at two years of age to ensure proper shape and placement to prevent against hip and elbow dysplasia. all dogs go in for a yearly eye exam to check for any signs of cataracts. As well as numerous gene test to inform us of any genetic mutations or diseases. Any dogs they have any unsatisfactory results are not bred to ensure what ever problems may have presented themselves are not passed down.
    We go great lengths to ensure the health of our dogs so we only “sell” or place our dogs with the right homes. All puppies are microchipped with the first contact always remaining one of my family members to ensure contact if a dog gets loose and is found. All puppies and adult dogs come with a contract, some of the contracts differ depending on the needs and wants of the perspective family but all contracts state any unwanted dog at any time in its life must come back to us.
    Although, Adopt don’t shop was meant to prevent people from supporting pet shops and puppy mills, the catchiness of the phrase has unfortunately taken on more than that. It is most important for people to educate themselves not only on the breeder or shelter they are receiving from but educate themselves on the breed they are getting, i.e. past and current health issues associated, temperaments, activity level and coat maintenance.

  35. Do people realize that if every breeder was shut down and we all spay/ neuter the pets we adopt (as we should), dogs would be extinct within 20 years?

    1. This is dramatic. If we think about it logically we could responsibly take care of the millions of animals we have and at a time where needed, responsibly breed again to keep the population being cared for instead of having too many. However this scenario in a fantasy world because likely 2cnd and 3rd world countries would continue to allow dogs to breed for years to come so the problem at hand now is simply too many dogs. If we are ever going to tackle and solve problems in this world we need to be honest with ourselves and think more logically for real solutions instead of spitting out outrageous unhelpful claims. No offense meant.

  36. Your missing the point of many people who do not use this phrase. The point is to adopt in a world with an overpopulation of dogs and cats instead of supporting the creation of new ones. if we as humans truly love animals why would we choose to buy, putting more demand on an industry creating more puppies, so we can have the special breed dog of choice and let the other dogs be euthanized. Dogs And animals are sentient beings who deserve respect from us as another fellow creature in this planet. Not one dog is worth more than the other. They are not accesories. We vote every time we spend our money on this earth. We vote on what we are ok with, what we want to keep happening. If we buy a puppy we vote for more pure bred dogs and for more shelter do’s tonight be killed. That’s how the world is and to deny it is to be ignorant. There are two cases in Munich opinion of people who buy bred pets. One is actually completely unaware and ignorant to the issues which i understands but also believe we have a responsibility to do our best to be aware of whatever we can that we are buying into. The other knows but makes excuses to get out of, they want a certain ‘behaviour’, size.. it was their pet as a child. These excuses do not make up for what it causes. The common problem causing us humans to buy such dogs and cats as well as exotic pets is that we are trying to patch a hole in us to make us feel worth more in a world where people are unfulfilled. We falsely get our identity from our belongings and from our pets. We constantly search for outer material things to compensate for an emptiness inside or to feel more worthy, more liked. Think about our psychology for a minute: it is true in most cases. It’s bad enough that we have grown to use material things to feel good it’s way worse when we use another living being to do that. If you must then at least adopt it and don’t leave others to die.

  37. Thank you! All three of my girls growing up in our family were bought as puppies. I cannot imagine my life without them. They are truly a joy in my life, and I might soon add my own pupper to my life.

    But for all those hard core “adoption only” people out there, y’all do realize that otherwise people like us, who would truly give a dog a good home for life, might not be able to have one at all? When my fiance and I first discussed getting a dog, everyone I knew shamed me to hell and back for even considering buying a puppy.

    So filled with shame, I went online and started looking around for dogs with no behavioral issues, could be crated for short periods, were non-shedding, would be adopted to people without a yard, and were breeds that are not banned by most apartment complexes.

    Do y’all seriously know how difficult it is to find dogs matching that description? How hard it is to find rescues who will adopt out of state? Who will adopt to people who live in apartments? Who aren’t like seven hours away? With dogs that we would be equipped as FIRST TIME DOG OWNERS to provide for and care for with special needs?

    I love dogs. I love all dogs. I love dogs so much that I want to make sure that I can care for any dog I bring into my home and give it the best life that I am capable of giving. To me, this is like saying, “Why are you having children when there are millions of children around the world who need a home?” While I support adoption and will probably adopt my own children, I think it is incredibly rude to judge someone for that.

    I can’t help the fact that we have allergies. Can’t help the fact that we don’t own a house. Can’t help the fact that we haven’t owned a dog together before. We keep our eyes peeled for adoptable dogs all the time that match our abilities and lifestyle, but it’s looking more and more like we need a puppy that doesn’t shed and has a predictable temperament.

    I mean honestly, I don’t understand what people expect us to do? Further traumatize a special needs dog that we aren’t equipped to handle? Aggravate my fiance’s sleep apnea until we are forced to rehome the dog? Never have our family over due to even more severe allergies? I guess people like that would just rather that dog lovers not get dogs if they’re not perfect non-allergy-having, house-owning, non-working people? Ridiculous.

    We will keep our eyes peeled, but again, we will not be shamed into making a choice that isn’t right for a dog that needs a home and isn’t right for our family.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I hear ya. It is not easy to adopt certain types of dogs. I had the same problems due to living in an apartment.

  38. I detest detest that phrase “adopt don’t shop”

    It is a phrase created by animal rightists NOT animal welfare advocates

    It is a phrase created by people who believe no animal should ever be bred for any reason, that you should not have an animal for any purpose except pure companionship

    To strictly follow that tenet would mean the extinction of many breeds and types of animals and in the long run would mean the end of pet ownership for many and the end of job where animals of specific traits are essential

    For some of these radicals that is acceptable extinction being better than working with or for humans

    I think many people who use the phrase “adopt don’t shop” truly would not want that to happen they just think it’s a great ideal

    The truth is there is a need for well bred genetically sound genetically health screened animals of many types
    There is also a population for whom any random bred pet animal that will work

    There is space for both

    I did rescue over ten years, I have trained hundreds of dogs from all sources, I have also bred purebred dogs

    In all these 30+ years I’ve seen a trend
    Buy OR adopt your choice BUT buy or adopt ONLY from rescues or breeders who are reputable, ethical and whom have the best interest of the animal at heart. Do not buy or adopt from people who are anything less than that
    There are horrific rescues and horrific breeders
    There are also amazing rescues and amazing breeders

    Do your research then adopt or shop your choice

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      You summed it up well, Diane. It’s not one vs. the other, it’s supporting good breeders AND good rescues. Common sense. And there are definitely horrific rescues and horrific breeders.

  39. We have bought from breeders and we have rescued and we will continue to do both (just depends on the circumstances at the time of getting a dog). There are pros and cons for both breeders and rescue dogs. It just depends on your situation and your knowledge and experience (to work with a rescue dog that might have issues).

  40. Lindsay Stordahl

    It’s not about one vs. the other but how both can work together to support dogs and people who love them.

  41. okay so everyone has a point but some breeders are good and some are bad we can not judge on breeder based on another

  42. I agree with this article. I looked for months on our local shelters’ websites but there was not a single dog that was hypoallergenic, which we need because of allergies. Also, it is much harder to retrain an older dog than it is to train a puppy. There are other ways to support animal shelters besides adopting a dog. Also, I don’t really see why people think it is ok to bully others into getting a dog that someone else neglected, abused, etc. Do we bully you into having babies when there are abused and neglected children out there who need homes or they will live their whole lives in foster care?
    The real problem is not dog breeders or people buying puppies. It is irresponsible dog owners. We need much stricter laws in place to protect our animals so they don’t end up in shelters in the first place. Shaming people into adopting dogs that have already been neglected or abused is a bandaid idea! We need to focus our energy on the source of the problem!

  43. I personally think breeding only benefits people not the animal that is being bred. And it’s really only done for monetary gain, status or to produce an animal with a specific skill set in order to perform a job like hunting, herding, and long distance running etc… However I think the problem does not lie with breeding or breeders alone or even the slogan “Adopt don’t shop”. The problem is that there are too many dogs in shelters these days and I personally think “Adopt don’t shop” does a good job of calling it to our attention. I think it is an effective message in that it actually makes one think about what to do when considering owning a pet. I personally think adopting should be the first method someone goes through to get a dog or any pet for that matter. And adopting to me can be from a shelter, from the streets or from a neighbor or relative. Buying from responsible breeders to me is the next best thing if “adopting” didn’t work out. I understand that adopting can be challenging, but just think about all the stuff a dog or any other pet has gone through for them to be at the shelter and to have to go through that again if they aren’t a good fit for the person doing the adopting. I like to put myself in the pets shoes so to speak, they have feelings too. Just my two cents.

  44. Adopting is necessary. Shopping is selfish in many ways. Overall, the importance of adopting and reducing breeding/ shopping, is to reduce overpopulation in shelters. Helping the animals we already have on the Earth, is far more important than continuing to produce more animals that may or may not end up in more shelters over time.

  45. The comments here are very telling. I think that the negative comments say more about the posters than they realize. Adopting is a perfectly reasonable option for getting a dog. However, it does not make you virtuous. And if you think it does you might need to take a closer look at who you are and what is really driving you to be so mean-spirited toward other dog lovers who choose a different path. I have gotten dogs differently throughout my life. Some were older unwanted dogs my family found on farms. Some were purchased from reputable breeders based on extensive research. I can say that not one dog was better than the others and my sense of worth was not bolstered based on how we acquired any of them; nor should it be. You should love the dog you have and stop worrying about others decisions. If you can’t do this take a good hard look at yourself and figure out what is missing in your life..

  46. I believe 100% in Adopt and don’t shop. Because those animals need us more than the ones that haven’t been born yet! And remember dear humans, no animal is a puppet/muppet for human entertainment, animals are not products, they are lifeforms just like you and i ! And the world where we live in, is not a kind one. It breaks my heart when i see animals suffer all over the world. Many of us just live in our bubble and don’t care. That is selfish.

  47. Those of you who defend breeding: If you could have the experience of looking into the eyes of a perfectly healthy friendly dog as you inject poison into their veins and watch the life go out of them for no other reason other than someone had to have a specific looking dog, maybe you would feel differently. MILLIONS, literally millions are dying each year, and I cannot understand how anyone will support that. When you buy a dog, that’s what you are doing. You are perpetuating the breeding, and leaving a dog to die. People will do what they do, but I will not support breeding in a world where millions are being killed each year.

    1. The goal shouldn’t be to just adopt. What we need to do is prevent that from happening. You need to look at the big picture. The only dogs being produced from responsible people are reputable breeders who are breeding for the dogs health. Every other production of dogs are puppy Mills, bad breeders only breeding for looks, backyard breeders, and strays breeding. This is the majority of the production of puppies. If we can eliminate all of those then there would be an enormous decrease in the dog population and an enormous decrease in dogs being killed in shelters. The goal should not be to continue to accept these irresponsible people from producing dogs. It should be to eliminate it all together. Reputable breeders aren’t the problem. Dogs need to be created or they will be extinct. The only good option are breeders who put in a great amount of work and research to improve a dogs health. If you don’t like reputable breeders as being the only form of new puppies coming into the world tell me where they should come from? I’d like to know an idea from you where we can get new puppies? Or do you just want this never ending cycle of shelter dogs to be the norm?

  48. I’m just wondering, what would happen if all animals in shelters were adopted, all breeders were shut down, and all pets were fixed?
    I’m looking at a mass extinction of animals that we can keep in our homes. Yes if we fix animals like cats, dogs, rodents, and birds, we would soon have no animals left to keep around our homes.
    Now we would still have farm animals like chickens or cows, so we would have to have those as pets. XD

    OH THEN THERE WOULD BE LESS FACTORY FARMS HARMING THESE ANIMALS FOR FOOD!!!!!! WE WOULD JUST USE THOSE AS PETS XD XD XD XD

    I know this comment went off the rails there, but I just kind of had an epiphany here…..

  49. I’ve noticed something peculiar among the “adopt don’t shop” crowd.

    Not a single one of them ever discusses the needs of the human involved. This is important because if the dog is a poor fit for the human (or family), then that dog will likely go back to a shelter. How does that help anyone?

    Also, some people have asthma and allergies, and can’t just “take any dog.” Doing so would be insane and harmful to both the human and the dog in the end.

    No, you can’t find “any breed” at a shelter. I’ve NEVER seen any “hypoallergenic dogs” (such as Standard Poodles, Irish Water Spaniels, Portuguese Water Dogs, or Lagotto Romagnolos, the latter of which I imagine most people have never even heard of) at the BC SPCA.

    I volunteered at the local BC SPCA branch for quite a while, so I saw what breeds came in. Over 90% of the dogs or puppies were Rottweilers or a combination of Rottweiler and something else; the rest were mutts. I have nothing against Rottweilers or mutts, but I can’t own either. My asthma and allergies preclude me from being able to give any dog that isn’t “hypoallergenic” a home.

    You might ask, “But if you could volunteer at the SPCA with dogs that weren’t hypoallergenic, then you don’t really have a problem, right?”

    No, not right. I had to take medication to be able to volunteer and although it usually got me through the session, sometimes it wasn’t enough, which meant I had to leave.

    The difference here is that the medication usually worked for an hour or so. I can’t reasonably be expected to take medication around the clock (which isn’t even possible with the medication I would be taking anyway) just so I could accept a dog that normally triggers a response that could land me in the emergency room.

    Like I said, I’ve never seen any “hypoallergenic dogs” at the BC SPCA. Maybe more shelter options exist in the US, but not in Canada. Even if I could find a “hypoallergenic dog” elsewhere in Canada, they wouldn’t let me adopt the dog since I’d be coming from another province. Attempting to adopt a dog from a shelter in the US would be futile seeing as how American shelters don’t like considering out-of-state pet adopters, let alone foreign ones.

    So… for someone like me, who NEEDS specific breeds because of asthma and allergies, what am I supposed to do if shelters don’t have those breeds? The only viable option is a reputable breeder, which is NOTHING like a puppy mill.

    1. I totally agree. The problem with people that are only adopt and not shop are not looking at the big picture. If we were to stop breeding dogs then how would new dogs be created? Just by accident? Isn’t that why a lot of dogs end up in shelters?
      The goal should not be only to adopt. The goal should be to ban puppy Mills, pet stores, backyard breeders, and bad breeders who breed for looks and not health. Another goal would be to create stricter laws for neutering/spaying. That would cut out a ton of puppies produced and greatly decrease unwanted dogs from irresponsible people.
      Our goal we should strive for is to make a world where shelters don’t exist. Where there are no unwanted dogs. Not a place where the only production of dogs are from accidents or irresponsible people.

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