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 the phrase “Adopt Don’t Shop” is wrong
- Adopt Don’t Shop Controversy
- Why we should support breeders AND shelters
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.
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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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.
“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.
Now, here are some resources if you decide to adopt a dog or 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.
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.
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?
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!
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.
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