Adopt, Don’t Shop: A Phrase Worth Thousands of Lives

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Dog in cage at shelterHave you heard the latest catch-phrase, “Adopt, Don’t Shop?” If so, you might be wondering what it means. Adopt, Don’t Shop is a campaign slogan that a growing number of animal rights proponents are using to promote adopting pets from shelters, rather than buying them from pet stores. What’s behind the movement? Is it controversial? And how can you get involved? Read on for answers to all these questions and more.

Why You Should Adopt a Pet Rather Than Buy

Most of the puppies sold in pet stores or online originate from puppy mills, commercial dog-breeding facilities that focus on increasing profit with little regard for the health and welfare of the animals. Although puppy mills in the U.S. are legal, a vast majority aren’t regulated. Practices and conditions in most puppy mills are unethical and downright abhorrent in many cases. Dogs live in filthy conditions without adequate food, water or veterinary care. And female dogs are bred at every opportunity with little to no recovery time between litters. Inbreeding is also a huge problem.

Because of these conditions, puppy mills often produce animals with serious health problems down the road. And this translates to hefty vet bills for you. Many pet stores also don’t socialize their animals, which can lead to potential behavioral problems that aren’t ideal for a family pet. Adopting a pet, however, has a ton of advantages. The ASPCA reports that roughly 6.5 million companion animals enter shelters every year.

What Are the Benefits of Adopting a Pet From a Shelter?

There are many advantages of adopting a rescue dog that you and your family can enjoy.

1. You’re Saving a Life

Adopting a dog from a shelter not only means that you’re giving him a happy life, but you also free up a spot at the rescue or shelter to save another dog’s life.

2. You Can Find a Fully Trained Dog

Don’t know much about training a puppy or don’t have the patience? You can find an adult rescue dog who’s already house trained and has his basic manners down pat. But if you’re up to the challenge, a rescue can find you a puppy as well.

3. You’ll Know the Dog’s Personality

Rescues and shelters care about how a dog will fit in with your family and will give you as much information as possible about each dog’s personality, activity level, how they behave with children, other pets and strangers, and other factors that make for a good fit. Be sure to tell them about the qualities you want in your pet and ask lots of questions. That way, you can find a perfect addition to your family.

4. Rescue Dogs Are Less Expensive

A rescue dog has already had all of his vaccinations and may have been spayed or neutered. And shelters typically have very reasonable adoption fees, ranging from $50 to $300.

5. You’ll Find a Lot of Choices

Rescue shelters often have dogs of all ages and genders, as well as purebred and mixed breeds of all kinds (an estimated 30% of dogs in rescues are purebred). And if you have a specific breed in mind, reach out to a breed-specific rescue near you.

6. Adopting Helps Fight Puppy Mills

Approximately 95% of puppies you can buy in pet stores or online are from puppy mills. Adopting a dog from a shelter takes business away from mills. The more people who adopt, the more puppy mills have a hard time staying in business.

What’s the “Adopt, Don’t Shop” Campaign?

“Adopt, Don’t Shop” is a national campaign to raise awareness about the benefits of adopting rescue pets instead of puppies from pet stores that buy from puppy mills. The organization that launched the Adopt Don’t Shop campaign is Los Angeles-based Last Chance for Animals (LCA), an international, nonprofit animal advocacy organization focused on investigating, exposing and ending animal exploitation since 1984. LCA founder Chris DeRose is a leader in the animal rights movement and works closely with countless individuals and groups dedicated to humane treatment of animals.

Real-Life Adoption Stories

Check out this heartwarming video by LCA with some adorable adopted rescues.

How Can You Help Raise Awareness?

There are several things you can do if you’re committed to raising awareness for the adopt, don’t shop messaging about puppy mills and the benefits of adopting a pet from a shelter.

  • Start a local group to raise awareness in your community
  • Educate pet store owners about the inhumane conditions and cruelty of puppy mills
  • Support pet stores when they agree to stop selling puppies from puppy mills
  • Encourage pet stores to deal only with rescue and shelter dogs
  • Wear an adopt don’t shop shirt to spread the message

When Buying a Puppy Makes Sense

Some people object to the slogan “Adopt, Don’t Shop” because it presumably detracts from a worthwhile industry that sells puppies — legitimate breeders. There are hundreds of licensed breeders across the country who are committed to humane practices and take great care in placing their purebred puppies in ideal homes. Many breeders do what they do for their love of dogs and maintain supportive relationships with their local shelters and rescue organizations. And many people who purchase purebred dogs are also committed to supporting adoption practices.

Learn More About Adopting a Pet

Are you considering adopting a dog? Be sure to check out our tips on how to adopt a dog and also learn about fostering. And you’ll enjoy our real-life stories about rescue dogs finding their forever homes. If you’re still considering a purebred, we have a helpful guide to choosing the right dog breed for you and your family. Finally, no matter how you choose to bring your fur baby into your home, you’ll definitely want to consider pet insurance – it’s very inexpensive and could save your furry loved one’s life.

Where do you stand on the Adopt, Don’t Shop slogan?

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Sally grew up in a feline-only home, but cat allergies in her early 20’s made it an easy transition to dog ownership. And she couldn’t be happier with her canine shadow, who’s been at her side (literally) for years. No longer a cat person for obvious reasons, Sally is now a true bone-ified dog lover.

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I can definitely see where people are coming from when they say “adopt, don’t shop”; however, this is a difficult ideal to follow…or at least it is where I’m from in New Jersey. I have been trying to adopt a dog for months, but every shelter I go to gives me so many problems and refuses to let me adopt.
Now you may think that there must be something wrong that is causing these shelters to refuse to adopt to me. Not to blow smoke, but I believe I am the perfect candidate for a dog. I am a very active person (daily hiking, walking, running, etc.) and am looking for a companion to enjoy these daily activities with. I have a large fenced-in yard (over an acre, plus access to hundreds of acres of woods in northern jersey with miles beyond miles of biking trails. I have numerous options when it comes to taking care of the dog when I have to work late or go somewhere that doesn’t allow me to bring my dog. I covered all the basics in that aspect. I also have plenty of experience working with dogs, including having several family dogs, dog sitting for several people, and even working at an AKC-registered dog kennel. Most of these shelters have even said that they “couldn’t think of a better candidate to adopt.” Then, in one instance, the woman in charge of adoption refused to allow me to adopt any dog at the shelter in case I might have to move in the couple of years to a place that doesn’t allow dogs. She thought that if this happened that I would give the dog back to a shelter. The thing is, I’M NOT EVEN PLANNING ON MOVING IN THE NEAR FUTURE! So why is she thinking about this hypothetical scenario? Another shelter did the same thing. Then other shelters refused to let me adopt for other reasons or just refused to let me adopt and refused to provide an answer. What’s worse is that those dogs are still in those shelters. These people think they’re saving the lives of so many dogs, but in reality, they’re just taking them from one bad living situation and placing them in a cage for months at a time instead of allowing a good dog owner to take amazing care of him or her.
I’m not the only one. Many other people I have spoken to have had similar complaints. One woman I spoke with said that the shelter had to make THREE HOUSE VISITS to make sure hat the house was suitable for the dog, but then denied the adoption. The adoption processes are ridiculous. Trust me, I understand everyone being cautious in who is adopting the dogs, but they’re turning away so many people that would make these animals’ lives better. Instead, they’re just adding to the problem.
Do you know what they process is for buying a dog from a kennel? Oh have to sign a basic application form, have one reference, a check, and you can walk away with the dog that same day! No wonder people are buying dogs. Shelters and rescues make the adoption process so intricate and ridiculous that it’s not even worth the trouble and stress in many instances.
I’m all for adopting dog and I would still love to, but this is getting absolutely ridiculous. I just want a good dog to have in my life and it’s frustrating that I can’t even do that because of some narrow-minded volunteers that claim to be saving animals’ lives.
If you’re one of these people, please realize that not every single person in the world is going to be some horrible animal hoarder. Some of us just want a dog in our life.
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
Wow, I am shocked to read about your experience. I don’t understand why they aren’t allowing you to adopt. They are keeping the dogs in shelters over finding their forever homes. Doesn’t make any sense. I’m sorry you have gone through this.
One. Shelter I visited wanted me to visit 6 times before the dog being approved for release!
Ellie Sinna
All rescues have the animal’s best interests as first priority. They’d like nothing better than to find a safe and loving home for the dogs/ cats in foster care-and they’re thrilled when they find that for their foster animals.
To that end, they require certain things from prospective adopters-ie., references (that are legit and check out well), a home visit, compatibility with animals already in the home, not having more animals in the home than is practical or safe, etc.
There is no reason that a rescue would deny an application where the applicant is suitable and WILLING to demonstrate that.
I’m sure that you have left out germane information about your experiences and/ or have twisted the “facts”.
I’m so sorry you’ve had these experiences. This is very surprising and not something I’ve every experienced adopting through the MSPCA. I’ve jusy adopted a dog at the MSPCA in Boston, MA and the process was fast and easy. The only reason we had to go twice was so that the dog could meet everyone in the family. Then a one page application, a conversation, address check and Elliot was ours. If there is one you can get to definitely go!
I may get my dog a DNA test to check for breed specific problems, and to stop speculating. However, he’s in his forever home. Adopted 12/11, I am so eclxcited to have him in my home. I love the slogan. People are so fascinated with purebreds, I genuinely don’t think it’ll hurt breeders. It could make someone who has a purebred say “I’ll adopt a mixed breed this time”. It’s a great reminder to some that they’re animals out there not receiving a second thought. Max is a terrier,literally all I know, and the most loving dog I’ve ever encountered!!
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
Congrats on the new addition to your family! I did a dog dna test on my rescue dog, Sally. We tested Embark DNA vs Wisdom Panel for Sally and the results varied slightly but overall were pretty similar! It was really cool to learn more about her genetic makeup.
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
I understand that there are instances where someone wants a purebred dog and may not be able to adopt form a shelter. However, for my family specifically, this is not the case. We have adopted two dogs from a local Humane Society and it has been so rewarding to save two lives and give them forever homes. The bond we share with our dogs is amazing and I’m so happy that we found each other. Our family will always go to a shelter. The stigma that “all dogs in shelters are bad” is simply not true. Sure, there are some who may have aggression problems or other behavioral issues, but for the most part, these dogs were abandoned or lost and need someone to love.
Awe so glad you found your fur babies from a shelter and had success, agree don’t shop adopt y’all!