Bringing a new animal into our home is a multistep process. But, it usually starts with deciding what animal is right for our circumstances, pet-proofing the house, and getting stocked up on pet supplies. Before we can do any of that, however, we need to decide where our next pet will come from. Sometimes, this can be just as hard as picking out which of the fuzzballs we want to bring home. Today we’ll explore four places where we can adopt or buy cats and canines, as well as the benefits of each.
We’re huge supporters of no-kill animal shelters. Often government owned, these shelters typically serve as the HQ for a county’s animal control. In addition to picking up stray and injured pets, these organizations also take in dogs and cats surrendered by their owners. Because they take in all kinds of animals, no questions asked, these government organizations are almost always full.
+ Shelter animals often come pre-socialized and trained in basic obedience.
+ Most shelters take care of spaying, neutering, and vaccinations before adoption.
+ There’s not a lot of adoption paperwork.
+ Whether it’s a pedigreed pooch or a tabby cat, they can be found at a shelter. Don’t believe us? Do a search on Petfinder.com.
+ Their adoption fees are often much lower than those at rescues and pet stores.
- Shelters are under a lot of pressure to get animals out the door.
- Due to the prevalence of strays, shelter pets tend to come sans vet records.
- Adopting from a kill shelter can help perpetuate the kill cycle.
- The shelter setting is not ideal for gauging an animal’s personality.
- Some shelter pets suffer from behavioral issues. Whether that is from poor training or trauma, it takes the willingness to discover and work with whatever challenges may arise.
Unlike animal shelters, which are usually government-run, animal rescues are typically private organizations. Furthermore, while the county pound spends a lot of time rehabilitating strays, rescues often focus on saving companion animals from abuse and homelessness. Instead of housing the animal in a shelter, rescues spread them across a wide network of affiliated foster parents. This home-based housing persists until the animal finds his or her forever home.
+ As they are housed in real homes, rescue animals are typically well-socialized and human-friendly
+ Due to their intense vetting process, potential pet parents can rest easy knowing they’ve found an animal that’s right for their home.
+ Animals in rescues come spayed or neutered, healthy, and up to date on vaccinations.
+ Most rescues offer a chance to spend time with the animals before taking them home.
- The adoption process can take weeks to finalize.
- Some rescues ask potential adopters to shoulder vet bills incurred while an animal was in their care
- Rescue prices are typically much higher than shelter prices.
- Most rescues only specialize in one or two types of animals.
- Scheduling visits with rescue animals can be difficult as foster parents don’t have office hours.
BreedersMany pet parents turn to reputable breeders. Unlike shelters or rescues, breeders raise pups and kitties from the whelping box. They are typically family-owned businesses with a long history of breeding and raising dogs and cats. Good breeders typically specialize in promoting one or two breeds. Once an animal reaches a suitable age, typically eight weeks for dogs and six weeks for cats, they are sold to the highest bidder. Though often seen as the antimony of adoption, reputable breeders in no way contribute to pet population problems.
+ When we adopt from a breeder, we don’t miss out on the formative puppy years
+ Animals from careful breeders are often free of species-specific ailments
+ As we can see the parent animals on site, we walk away with a better understanding of what our pup might grow into
+ Good breeders kickstart the vaccination and housebreaking process for us
+ Breeders are very knowledgeable about the needs of their given breeds
- There are a lot of puppy mills out there. And, even when we do our homework, it’s easy to fall for their tricks
- Most high-end breeders have dozens of people on their waiting list. This can mean waiting years for that perfect pup.
- Puppies from breeders are not cheap and can range in price from $300 to $5000 and more.
- Obedience and potty training are likely to be the new owner’s responsibility
- The majority of breeders require adopters to visit their homes. This can rack up the miles.
We all remember pressing our noses against the glass and waving excitedly at the puppies tumbling just beyond the window. Even as our breath fogged the window, we could just make out a sea of wagging tails. In the past couple of decades, picking up an animal from the pet store has become a social faux pas. Society knows that animals aren’t things to be bought and sold like a dime store tchotchke. Additionally, most pets from pet stores are the product of puppy mills, which are inhumane, which means buying from the pet store supports animal cruelty.
+ Pet stores offer puppies and kittens at a price far lower than the typical breeder
+ Shopping at a pet store lets us get our pup and our supplies all in one place
- Pet stores are often affiliated with puppy mills and other disreputable organizations
- Dogs and other animals from pet stores are often subject to parasites and severe health issues
- Pet stores do not screen for genetic or behavioral diseases
While we’re big advocates of ‘adopt don’t shop,’ we believe that every would-be pet guardian should do what’s right for them and their family. Whether that means going to a shelter or a breeder, pet guardians need to put in some legwork. Do the research. Be honest with ourselves. And, most importantly, remember that adding a member to the family should never be a fly-by-night decision.