If you’ve been looking to add a furry friend to your family, then you’ve no doubt heard the phrase “Adopt, don’t shop” thrown around in the animal community.
It’s especially prevalent among vegan animal lovers and pet parents who understand the dark side of kill shelters and animal breeding. So, what is the “Adopt, don’t shop” movement all about?
The “Adopt, don’t shop” movement is meant to encourage prospective pet owners to consider adopting a pet (typically a dog or cat) rather than shopping for a puppy or kitten.
Although adoption can come with challenges, it reduces animal cruelty and gives you the chance to save animal lives.
This is a topic that’s very close to my heart, as I own two dogs (one of them a rescue) and have seen first-hand how animal adoption can change lives.
In today’s post, I’ll outline some of the top reasons you should consider animal adoption as well as some of the challenges you should be aware of and how to address them. Let’s dive right in!
There are a number of good reasons why you should consider adoption over purchasing your animal from a breeder. Some of the top reasons why you should adopt, not shop include:
- There are thousands of animals in shelters who would love a good home.
- Unfortunately, many unadopted animals are killed after a short period of time.
- Animal breeding practices tend to be irresponsible and inhumane.
- Adopting is usually far more affordable than purchasing a pure-breed.
Of course, when it comes to some animals (i.e.- hamsters, ferrets, reptiles, etc.) adoption may not be an option, as shelters typically don’t keep exotic or specialty animals.
However, your local adoption shelter is full of cats and dogs who need to be adopted!
Now, I’ll take a few minutes to break down the top reasons why you should adopt your pets, not shop for them.
1) There Are Thousands Of Animals Who Need A Good Home
According to the ASPCA, over 6.3 million animals come into shelters each year (around 50/50 cats and dogs).
Most animal shelters are non-profit or government organizations that are working with limited budgets and have limited space. Simply put, they operate purely off of donations and small veterinary services they may offer.
Unfortunately, out of the 6.3 million animals that come into shelters, nearly 1 million of them are euthanized. Although it may sound inhumane, many shelters are simply unable to handle more animals and have limited food and resources that have to be split among the other animals.
Of course, there are special no-kill shelters that don’t euthanize their adoptees. However, these are far and few between and typically aren’t able to handle more than a few hundred animals at a time.
In some countries, unadopted cats and dogs are even used for cruel animal testing experiments by big-name cosmetic brands and research institutes.
2) Animal Breeding Is Often Inhumane
One of the biggest reasons you should consider animal adoption over shopping from a breeder is that animal breeding can be very inhumane. Although there are some responsible, ethical breeders, they don’t represent the majority.
For one, animal breeders often put female dogs in positions where they’re repeatedly raped by a larger, stronger male dog.
When natural insemination can’t be accomplished, artificial insemination is used, which is just as questionable and unnatural, as the female doesn’t have a choice.
Some breeds of dogs are, in themselves, inhumane. Take bulldogs, for example… Long ago, they were bred for the cruel practice of bull-baiting. To this day, female bulldogs cannot naturally give birth to their young, as the size of their head is too large.
This means that nearly all bulldog mothers must have a potentially deadly c-section surgery performed to remove their young.
To learn more about why modern dog breeding is becoming increasingly more inhumane, check out this video:
3) Adopting A Pet Is More Affordable (& Sometimes Free!)
If the ethical reasons why you should adopt over shopping for a pet aren’t enough to sway you, then this reason should be. Adopting a pet is almost always more affordable than purchasing from a breeder.
Many purebred puppies can cost upwards of $1,000 or more, not including vet fees, vaccinations, chipping, and fixing them (which can easily cost an extra $6-700).
Conversely, you can usually adopt a dog for a few hundred dollars! Depending on the shelter, how in-demand the dog breed is, and their age, the price can vary. It’s still cheaper than buying from a breeder, though.
Not to mention, shelter animals typically come pre-vaccinated and are usually fixed and chipped. This can save you hundreds of dollars upfront.
Admittedly, my first dog wasn’t adopted. He’s a small Maltese-Yorkie (Morkie, for short), and I got him as my first dog, a couple of years before going vegan. I was attached to that particular breed and found a local breeder with humane practices.
That being said, I still ended up buying the smallest runt of the litter, as I felt bad when the breeder told me that nobody else was interested in him. So, in a way, I kind of feel like I did adopt him.
Today, he’s one of the smartest, most emotionally intelligent little dogs I know!
My second dog was an actual rescue. She’s a German Shepherd-Akita mix with a traumatic past. I got her at six months old after she bit a young child at her third foster home.
Understandably, the parents were trying to get rid of her and were even considering euthanization.
Originally, she was bred as a fighting dog. However, she was the runt of the litter (and a female), so her breeders chained her up to a tree and left her to die.
Thankfully, somebody reported the breeder and rescued her, keeping her for a few weeks before passing her off to the family I got her from.
Given the intensity of the situation, I ended up getting her for free and the owners were happy she was going to a good home.
That being said, I had a traumatized puppy who had massive potential for aggression on my hands.
Over the next couple of years, I helped her work through her issues with lots of patience and love. Now, she’s one of the most loyal, obedient, and loving dogs I know.
Animal adoption is more humane, better for the planet, and aligns with vegan ideals. However, I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that adopting a dog or cat can come with challenges.
This is why it’s important to get as much information as possible about the animal before you complete the adoption process.
Many adopted animals are issue-free, but others may have some issues that will require your attention, training, and patience.
The biggest problem with adopted animals is that they’ve almost all experienced some degree of trauma in their past life. Otherwise, they probably wouldn’t be in an animal shelter, to begin with!
Some of the most common issues present in adopted animals include:
- Abandonment issues
- Aggression (towards humans, their own kind, or both)
- Insecurity and fear
Usually, the younger the animal is, the easier it is to work with them and reprogram their brain with positive emotions and habits. Older cats and dogs typically require more work and effort on your part.
For example, when I got my German Shepherd mix, she had extreme abandonment issues. This was understandable, seeing as we were her fourth home and she was only six months old.
At first, it was so bad that I couldn’t even leave the house to check the mail without her freaking out and trying to destroy the furniture.
After a few weeks of watching YouTube tutorials, though, I learned and implemented practices designed to reduce her anxiety and build her confidence. Problem solved!
Keep in mind that young puppies purchased from a breeder may also develop similar issues. However, since they’re younger, it gives their owners more leeway to prevent the problems from developing, in the first place.
In some cases, you may find that you just need to hire a good trainer to work with your dog to manage their trauma.
Usually, shelters do a pretty good job of checking their animals out. However, the reality is that some adopted animals may come with physical illness, deformities, injuries, or dormant diseases that you’ll need to attend to or provide special care for.
As long as you do your homework and know what you’re getting yourself into, though, you shouldn’t be met with any surprises.
Whenever you bring an adopted animal home, it’s common for them to experience depression and anxiety for a few weeks. Dogs may nervously pace around the house and cats may hide under your bed for a week straight before they feel comfortable in their new home.
Switching homes (from a shelter to your house) is usually stressful for any animal. If they had playmates or family at the shelter, they may also experience depression from their absence.
Just make sure that you’re loving, understanding, and give them their space in the first couple of weeks.
They’ll almost always come around once they realize they’re in a place with good energy where they’re loved!
If you’ve been wanting to introduce a dog or cat into your home, I strongly encourage you to adopt, not shop!
Chances are that there’s a perfect furry friend waiting for you at one of your local shelters. When you make eye contact and feel their energy, you’ll both know that they’re the one you’ve been waiting for.
Sure, adoption can come with its own challenges. However, the satisfaction and love you receive from helping your new pet overcome insecurities will be unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.
If you liked this post, then you’ll love my answer to the age-old debate about whether or not wool is vegan!