Maybe They Just Don't Know...

[The following blog post provides a broad, general overview of the importance of pet adoption, versus buying from a breeder. I'll write another post later, more-focused on the distinctions within the "breeder portion" of the "buy" equation. But for now, I'd like to speak to the potential buyers... in an attempt to show them another way...]

*If you're looking for a new family pet, please read this first! 

Today, I want to discuss the subject of pet adoption. 
Lucky Dog: Diamond, Available for adoption

Since the term "adoption" is often misused, let me clarify: 

By "pet adoption," I'm referring to the act of adopting a dog, cat, or other pet from an animal shelter or animal rescue group... versus buying a pet from a breeder. 

Now, you may be asking: What's the difference?

Well, I'll tell you...

Purchasing a pet from a breeder is not "adopting." It's buying. And while I'm NOT here to judge or condemn everyone who has ever made the decision to buy a pet versus adopting, I do want you to understand the difference between the two. It's an enlightening distinction, so please keep reading...

First, you need to understand the difference between an animal shelter or animal rescue group... and an animal breeder. Here's a general overview: 

Animal shelters and rescues are organizations that take-in the pets who have no where else to go. These agencies obtain their animals from many different sources: other shelters, owner surrenders, seizing of pets, strays, unwanted puppy/kitten litters, breeders, puppy mills, hoarders, etc.

The most basic goal of shelters/rescues is to find loving homes for the pets in their care, while also focusing on efforts such as spay/neuter, which help control the pet population... reducing the number of animals euthanized each year (Millions of beautiful, loving, deserving, healthy animals die in shelters each year, due to the pet overpopulation).

Conversely... breeders bring more pets into the world. In short, irresponsible breeders breed their animals, in order to sell the offspring for profit. (Distinctions between different types of breeders will be made in another post.)

Clyde, available for adoption with Lucky Dog Rescue
Okay... quick summary: 
Shelters and rescues work to reduce/control the pet population through spay/neuter, with focus on finding adoptive homes for as many animals as they can.
Irresponsible breeders work to bring more animals into the world, increasing the pet population, with primary focus on making a profit.

Adopt a pet; save a life.
Buy a pet; contribute to the problem. 

Got it? Good. Let's keep going...

While breeders are bringing millions of new puppies and kittens into existence... millions and millions of OTHER puppies, kittens, and adult animals are being killed in shelters each year. Why?? Because there are just too many animals waiting for families... and not enough families adopting them. 

Yet, there ARE many families out there who are looking for a new pet... but so many of those families choose to buy their new pet from a breeder, instead of adopting from a shelter or rescue. 

So... let's talk about WHY this choice is made... and what happens as a result of that choice. Then, most importantly... the alternatives to that decision.

Obviously, there isn't just ONE reason why people buy pets from breeders. There are many. But common sense tells me that the most important factor for the buyer is: the breed

Reece, Choc Lab, Lucky Dog Rescue
Example: Joe is looking for a specific breed of dog... let's say: a Lab. So, he goes to a breeder, and buys a Lab. Makes sense, right?

But here's the issue with that... and the part that Joe may not realize: there are sooo many Labs, and puppies/dogs of every breed you can imagine, who are living --and dying-- in shelters across the country. 

Many of those dogs are "purebred" dogs (same goes for cats). While the term "purebred" means nothing special to me... I do realize that it does matter to some people, especially those people who buy from breeders. And that's why it's important for me to talk about it.

So, if you're one of those "purebred" people, then let's talk about what it is you really want in a dog. When searching for a "purebred" dog of a particular breed... what you're really drawn to --at least, initially-- is the look of that breed, right? Meaning the size, the color, the face, ears, body type, etc. And then... secondly, you're probably interested in the perceived character traits, intelligence, energy level, etc of that specific breed, correct?

So then, ask yourself: if I found a puppy/dog (or cat) who had the "look" I desire, with the character traits I seek, would it really matter if the dog had "papers" to prove those things to be true? Does the "purebred" label really matter to me... if the dog looks, acts, and most likely IS --or is pretty-damn-close-to-being-- a "purebred" dog of the breed I want?

If your answer to those questions was: "Yes. Papers matter to me; the purebred label matters to me; I'm buying from a breeder" ... then... sorry, I can't help you. Not even a little.

But... if you thought to yourself: "You know what... the DOG is what's important to me, not the papers or label. And if the dog looks like a [insert breed] and acts like a [do it again], then he's probably a [you get the picture], and that's good enough for me!"   ...then keep reading :)

Mimi, Available for adoption, Lucky Dog Rescue
There are sooo many "purebred" (and damn-near "purebred") puppies and dogs available for adoption with shelters and rescues. In fact, there are also breed-specific rescue groups for every breed of dog, and those groups have many adoptable puppies and dogs of the exact breed you seek! AND... instead of paying a breeder to buy the dog, and then turning around and spending tons of money at your vet for spay/neuter, vaccinations, heartworm test, etc... guess what? The adopted dog will already be fully vetted, for a fraction of the cost! (Yes, I'm totally serious! Yeah... I know it's friggin' awesome!)

So... if you want a Lab, I can promise you... there's a gorgeous, loving, amazing Lab waiting for you in a shelter. If you want a Yorkie, English Bulldog, Pit Bull, Pug, Shih Tzu, or Peeka-Poma-Peter-Piper-Poo, they've probably got those too. But if that shelter doesn't... then guess what? Another shelter or rescue does

Why is adoption so important? Because... when the families who are looking for a new pet choose to buy from breeders, instead of adopting from a shelter or rescue, a couple of things happen...

Each and every pet purchase provides the irresponsible breeder with an incentive to keep breeding. This means: bringing even more animals into the world, when there are already too many. Therefore... whether or not the buyer realizes it, their purchase has directly contributed toward the already out-of-control pet population, and ultimately, the massive killing of perfectly healthy shelter pets each year. How so? Well, each time a pet is purchased from a breeder, a shelter pet who could've been adopted by that family... dies.

Missy, Available for adoption, Lucky Dog Rescue
But why? Well... while the animals in the shelters continue to wait for homes, more and more animals come into those shelters each day. Eventually, there's no more space. The consequence? With no where else to go... and no one offering to adopt them... millions of beautiful, loving, healthy --often "purebred"-- puppies, kittens, and adult animals are euthanized each year. 

But why would the shelters do this? Well... if no one is willing to adopt the many, many pets in their care... what other choice do they have? Should pets be forced to live in shelter cages forever, while people purchase dogs from breeders instead of adopting? Are YOU willing to help... by changing your "new pet" decision, from buy to adopt?

Trust me... every single "new pet" decision --including YOURS-- matters. Because every single "new pet" decision is a life-or-death decision. Even if you don't realize it... even if you refuse to acknowledge it... purchasing from irresponsible breeders contributes toward the overpopulation and the deaths of innocent pets; adoption works toward resolution, while saving lives. It's really that simple.

Okay... so... at this point, you may be thinking: "But if no one buys from breeders, what would happen to all those puppies?!"

Good question. Let's talk about that for a sec.
Breeding is a business (for at least 90% of breeders). For the VAST majority, profit is the goal. Without profit, most breeders would be forced to go out of business. Therefore, the majority would stop breeding, which would lead to a much-needed decrease in the pet overpopulation. What about the leftover puppies, you ask? Well, the puppies and breeder dogs would go to shelters and rescues, where they'd be placed up for adoption.

Warren, Available for adoption
Important note:  just because a puppy or dog is available for adoption with a shelter or rescue, it DOES NOT mean that there's something "wrong" with the dog. Shelter dogs are NOT "less-than" or "unworthy" or "lower quality" than another dog. They're actually quite the opposite: amazing

If you don't believe me, then you haven't experienced the joy of adoption for yourself. And if you haven't, you're truly missing out on the experience of a lifetime. So... maybe it's time you learned what it feels like... to save a life.  

Please don't buy from breeders and pet shops. 
Please don't contribute to this massive, heartbreaking, deadly problem. 
Please adopt from shelters and rescues. 
Please save a life. 
Please do the right thing... now that you know what the right thing is.

Of course... even as I say all of this, I do realize that today's post won't "change the world" ... and that's okay with me. I don't need to change the world today... I just need to change one person's perception today. Or at least... plant the seed...

If I can do that much, then maybe one more shelter dog will have a shot at hope. Because right now... that very dog... doesn't stand a chance. 

And for those of you who think: "She's wasting her time. People aren't going to listen, because people just don't care." Well, here's my response to that:

In my heart, I have to believe that people don't want innocent animals to die in shelters. I have to believe that most people buy from breeders... simply because they don't know the alternatives. I have to believe that people are capable of listening, caring, and changing their behaviors to prove it. 
Roscoe, Available for adoption, Lucky Dog Rescue

Maybe it's not that they "just don't care" ... maybe they just don't know.

And maybe now... they will.

It's worth a shot anyway. Shelter pets are dying as I type... 

[Note: if you're aware of this information, but you still choose to buy from irresponsible breeders, then maybe you don't truly understand the impact of your decisions. Or maybe... you just don't care. But for the sake of my sanity, I'll choose to believe the former... and I'll hope to one day change your mind. Innocent animals are dying, people! YOU could save them! Wake up!]

If you'd like to help my rescue dogs, please click the link below to donate:


  1. It sounds like the problem isn't breeders, it's stupid people:

    "These agencies obtain their animals from many different sources: other shelters, owner surrenders, seizing of pets, strays, unwanted puppy/kitten litters, breeders, puppy mills, hoarders, etc."

    Breeders don't contribute millions. As I see it, it's puppy mills and unwanted litters that are the problem. And it's the lack of people educated on the subject.

    1. Yes,I believe in everything in this blog, but its an over simplification. To lay the problem of pet over population at the feet of good breeders is wrong. I think the issue lies in defining ones terms. I believe that 95% of people, whose dogs have litters, have no business even owning a dog, much less, allowing that dog to produce progeny. There is so much more involved with putting fifi with fido, and having a litter pop out 60 days later. If I decide to buy a pure breed dog, it will be to buy certain traits or bloodlines, and I will buy from someone who could care less if that puppy I have my eye on goes with me or not, and if I dont answer the questions I am asked by that breeder, with the right answer, that puppy isnt going anywhere. I wouldnt even consider buying from someone who didnt make it more difficult to adopt a fur child from than it would be to adopt a real child. A good breeder makes little to NO money breeding....a backyard breeder has dollar signs in his or her eyes, and all they need is to see the color of your money, and that puppy is outta there. A good breeder will sell you a puppy, maybe, but reserves the right to take that puppy back if you dont get it spayed or neutered forthwith. Its a conundrum to be sure....breeder vs (I dont know the politically correct name for the scum who breeds for the bucks, instead of to improve the breed, or worse yet, wont get their dog fixed so that those accidental litters quit happening every 6 months).

    2. Obviously, my post presents a broad overview of a more complex issue. That's definitely true. The simplified, straight-forward approach is meant to break things down to the most basic components, so it can be easily read by the average "non-rescue" person.

      I'd never say that this post --or any of my "educational" posts-- contains ALL of the information about any given topic, because it would take a book to cover every aspect of this issue. But I try not to overload people with way too much info, or include factors they don't really care about, because I don't want the intended message to be lost. So, I try to keep it simple, while still attempting to get my point across in a way that most people can relate to. (hopefully)

    3. Although I understand your point Anonymous, I would think you would also agree with the following statement. The number of backyard breeders, puppy mills etc FAR outnumber the few who are trying to be a responsible breeder.

      In recent days I have seen a pet store speaking out against a backlash because they are selling puppies from a breeder. They have presented many forms of "evidence" to support this person as a responsible breeder. But, this person breeds (that we know of) at least 5 different breeds and 1 designer breed. Would you call someone breeding that many dogs a responsible breeder? How can that be responsible?

    4. Yes, the number of irresponsible breeders greatly outnumbers those who may try to things more responsibly. The VAST majority of breeders are breeding irresponsibly, for profit.

      As I stated at the top of this post, I plan to write a follow-up with more specific information about breeders, and the differences between breeders.

    5. puppy mills ARE breeders...that's the point!

    6. Ashley, I agree with EVERYTHING in your blog....yes, there are too many people who "call" themselves breeders, but in fact, they are 99% of the problem. I didnt see the story about the pet store of which you speak, nor did I hear their forms of supposed evidence, but this I know, and Ill shout it out...NO REPUTABLE BREEDER WOULD EVER SELL THEIR PUPPIES FROM A PET STORE...PERIOD. If a store is selling puppies, then they are, without a doubt, from a puppy mill. It is those stores which should be shunned....I wont buy even so much as a rawhide chew from a store that sells puppies. With the demand for their goods (I mean anything they sell in that store, not just the puppies) shut down, so too must that store, and when you close the vendors who sell puppies, only then can we shut down puppy mills. Its all about supply and demand. When there is no demand then the suppliers have no reason to be in business. Its simple economics.

  2. While not all breeders are puppy millers... all puppy millers ARE breeders. So you can't say "Breeders aren't the problem... it's puppy millers." Because... puppy millers ARE breeders. Thus, breeders are the problem.

    And actually, because breeding is so highly unregulated, there's no accurate data for the numbers of puppies brought into this world by breeders. HOWEVER, in the state of Mississippi alone, there are THOUSANDS of breeders, each breeding dogs, often of multiple different breeds. Each litter produces multiple puppies, and many breeders have multiple breeder dogs, of multiple different breeds, producing many, many puppies. Multiply that out across the country. You'll see where the term "millions" comes from.

    Of course, education is also an issue, and that's a topic for a separate blog post.

  3. I fully agree with the second poster - you do have to make a distinction between good breeders and bad. Many good breeders are even involved in rescue, usually breed specific rescue, which can be a HUGE help because not every breed is easy to foster or place. Good breeders spend thousands of dollars on health and genetic testing, care of their dogs, showing/working their dogs and have a near impossible screening process (even more strict than most rescue groups) when placing any pups they bring into the world. Most of them only have a litter every few years and it's usually foremost to keep a pup or two to continue their lines. Hours and hours of research goes into the pedigrees they produce. They also reserve the right to take the pups back if a contract is broken and will always take their pups back if the family can no longer care for them for whatever reason.

    Does the breeding world need more regulations? Absolutely and I think a lot of that blame goes on the registries (AKC, UKC, ect). They know exactly how many litters are being registered a year and should have some kind of cap on how many litters can be registered. That would weed at least a few of the puppy mills out, or at least make it more difficult. The public also needs to do their research. Most are so ill-informed when they choose a breeder, they are adding to the puppy mill problem. It's very easy to get a dog from a puppy mill where getting a quality bred dog from a reputable breeder can be difficult, including an application, home check, screening process, and normally a wait list.

    This is a complicated subject and simply throwing all breeders into the same box or blaming the pet overpopulation on them is unfair. Many of the dogs in shelters come from people who neglected to spay/neuter their pet and it ended up having a litter, sometimes more than one. Those people usually just give the puppies away for free and turn the rest into the shelter as soon as they are old enough.

    1. As I noted at the top, there will be another post with more specific information about breeders.

      However, that post certainly won't "promote" the practice of breeding, even what some deem as "responsible breeding," because that's not what rescue is about. This is a rescue blog, and the mission is obviously geared toward: adoption. However, every person is entitled to feel the way they do, and I appreciate your input.

  4. Thank you for this post- as a fellow dog rescuer I get frustrated when people buy from breeders or pet stores when there are so many wonderful dogs in shelters and rescues. Personally I think making money off of an animal by forceable pregnation to be pretty gross!

    1. Thank you, Addie! And yes... there are SO MANY wonderful pets in shelters and rescues! Adoption is such an amazing experience, for both the adopter and the pet!

  5. thank you ashley! not only are you trying to change perceptions {or plant the seed} but you are being respectful of others.

  6. I am impressed with your blog, and enjoyed reading it, and the replies. Since I rescue, and have for 30 years, I am a rescuer. Since I show pure bred dogs, I am promoting pure bred dogs, and the purchasing of them, so I am on the other side of the fence as well. In looking at anti-breeding blogs, websites and Facebook pages, I am struck by something. The breeders who comment are ALL people who do not make money because of the infrequent litters they have, and the costs of health checks and premium foods and care the parents and babies get. Most of them are involved in rescue, so they are rescuers as well. It seems to me that these two sides would work together better if one side wasn't always spewing hate at the other. Thank you for not having that on here. If the dogs are the most important, then we really do need to work together, and defining the breeders would be helpful. Of course, we never read from any of the puppy mill people because they don't care about any of it. I'd just like to promote the idea of truly identifying the ones who are responsible: the puppy mills, backyard breeders, "oops" breeders, and retail sellers. But please, don't let the irresponsible owners off the hook. After a certain amount of time, you must blame them for their decisions, and not a breeder from 5 years, (or whatever) earlier.

    Just a thought/question. If ownership of an item is transferred, based on the exchange of money, then that item is sold. So, technically, every shelter sells dogs as well, right? I am all for using the term adoption to give people that warm fuzzy feeling, but shelters and rescue also sell. I have seen ads for dogs from rescue groups for hundreds and hundreds of dollars. So if a breeder sells a dog for $500, a rescue asking $500 is also selling dogs. I know that may not cover the cost for either one, but then, with the same logic, the rescue is also in it for the money. I ran a shelter for 23 years, and we never made money. Yet we almost always charged a fee. But when we are quick to judge, or put everyone in the same group, we may alienate ourselves from of the very people who can help to solve the problem.

    As I don't have a profile set up in the choices offered, I will just sign,
    Sincerely, Alison Barrett

    1. Thanks for your comment, Alison. Like I said, there will be another post with more specific information about the differences between breeders. Obviously, there are many different kinds of breeders.

      While a few comments seem to be focused on the fact that I didn't differentiate between different types of breeders in this particular post... the purpose of the this post was to say: here are the reasons why you should adopt versus buy. In my opinion, adoption should always be the first consideration for anyone seeking a new family pet, and the hope is... that maybe more people will make the decision to adopt versus buy. And if they do ADOPT, then the importance of "good breeders" versus "bad breeders" is irrelevant to their new pet decision. Does that make sense? (Again, follow-up posts will be written for those who don't wish to make the "adopt" decision.)

      While I didn't distinguish between "responsible" versus "irresponsible" breeders in this particular post, I ALSO didn't distinguish between "good" and "bad" shelters and rescues. Obviously, both exist. Again, this was just a broad overview, not a full-book on the subject. The take-away is meant to be "I should adopt rather than buy." NOT: "She didn't talk about why I should buy from responsible breeders." Again, a separate post will be written about the differences in breeders, and if you INSIST on buying... how to spot a responsible breeder, etc.

      Lastly, many shelters and rescues are non-profit organizations. While a fee is charged (as you mentioned), there's clearly a distinction between a NON-profit business and a FOR-profit business. If a breeder is selling puppies for-profit (even if they lose money doing so), then they'd technically be classified as a FOR-profit business. And let's be honest, the VAST majority of breeders are only in it for the profit.
      Thank you for your comment!

    2. IMO no such thing as a "responsible breeder" while MILLIONS are killed in US ..... The breeders will attack you and anyone else that may cost them a few $$

    3. I totally agree. With so many animals dying each year, it's insanely reckless and irresponsible to bring so many more pets into this world. That's absolutely my personal stance on the issue: it's all irresponsible.

      However, I do realize that some people aren't going to agree with me, and no matter what I say, they just not going to adopt... they're going to buy. So, I guess I have to deal with that...
      Therefore, I do plan to write a follow-up with more information on breeders, so that maybe those who INSIST on buying will not purchase from and support the "irresponsible" breeders.

      But I am pretty amazed that several commenters only focused on "promoting" the breeder aspect, versus rallying behind the ADOPTION aspect. That was my primary goal with this post: ADOPT, don't buy.

  7. Excellent article! And thank you for pointing out that there are no reliable statistics on animal populations in sheters/rescues. I see many numbers "bandied" about to serve one purpose or another. But at best they are educated guesses. so I am always a bit leary of someone that touts a solution based on a supposed knowledge of certain numbers.

  8. Thank you so much for writing about this... We have millions of animals killed in shelters every year... thank you for getting the message out ... people need to adopt not buy.... In one so called shelter near me 700 animals were killed in one month ... Why would anyone bring more into the world when we are killing so many??
    Again Thank You and I support you 100%.

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  11. Thank you so much for this blog. There is a side to buying that doesn't get seen though...a lot of shelters can discriminate against people like me adopting :( I was forced to get my pup from a "hobby" type breeder. I researched for months to find the right person. I'm disabled and needed a dog to train as a service dog. Most service dog training charities only use Labs/Golden Retrievers or a cross of the two; living in a tiny flat, their size is a major issue for me. I settled on an English Cocker Spaniel and started trawling national spaniel rescue groups/SPCA centres. Not one of them was prepared to let me take a dog, citing my disability as the main reason. Pure discrimination as I used to train gun-dogs with no problems! I was heartbroken by their ignorance. Luckily for me I found my perfect pup with a tiny, hobby breeder that a friend told me about. It was a long drive to check the place out but I was so happy to get there and discover that she's a true spaniel lover. I was introduced to her dogs, shown all the puppies from this litter, shown all the emails from past owners with their updates on their (now grown) pups. The lady was selling these pups for less than half the usual asking price "so that the right people can still afford to have one of these beautiful animals". She does genetic tests, 3 vet checks before they come to you, vaccinations, pays for spay/neuter, everything. She vetted us so thoroughly and, happily, chose to place Blossom with us because "they're such clingy, loving dogs and you're home alone all day in pain. You won't leave her alone too long and she'll never leave you either". Blossom is now two, she alerts me when I'm about to collapse, I've taught her dozens of commands, both signed and verbal, she's my rock and we're still in touch with her breeder. It was the best thing I could have hoped for besides adopting. Even with such a wonderful experience though, it played on my mind that I wasn't allowed to adopt because of prejudice. I'm happy to report that I carried on looking into this (ready for next time) and have now found an AWESOME charity called "Support Dogs". They adopt dogs of all ages, shapes and sizes from shelters and then train them as service dogs of all kinds. Matching the right dog with the right person and home is their passion. I will definitely use those guys when Blossom is ready for retirement.

    However, to anyone else like me, don't feel too bad if discrimination forces you to buy. Just wait a bit longer and find someone that cares about your new puppy just as much as you do! A good breeder will become your friend as they'll continue to care about the puppy no matter how old it gets! Xxxx

  12. Thank you so much for writing this. You are doing a great and good service for all who read this . Be proud of the love for him that you express.


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