Congratulations! You’re ready to grow your family and introduce a four-legged child into your home. But where do you go to adopt your new cuddly cat or dog — a breeder or a shelter? Many myths circulate around shelter animals and adoptions. MeowWoofChirp and Happy Cat Sanctuary are here to set the record straight so that you can find the perfect pet from a shelter while saving both a life and money.
Myth: There is no harm in adopting from a breeder. I’m still saving a life.
Fact: Each year, 6 to 8 million cats and dogs enter shelters. Approximately 2.5 million of those animals are euthanized annually. By adopting a shelter animal, you are directly saving a life. By contrast, puppies and kittens born to breeders were reproduced for the purpose of making a profit, and only add to the overpopulation problem in America. So when you adopt a cat or dog from a breeder, one shelter animal has a much greater chance of being euthanized.
Myth: As long as I adopt from a responsible breeder, it’s okay.
Fact: In the horrific landscape of hoarding breeders and puppy mills, there are genuine breeders who love animals very much. But even the most responsible breeders can fall on hard times, leading to further strain on the homeless pet population. Take for example this case in Boston, where a cat breeder lost her home and had to surrender 40 Maine Coons to the MSPCA. ALL breeders exist for one reason: to make a profit by selling expensive animals. Shelters and sanctuaries, on the other hand, are usually not-for-profit entities and charge very low adoption fees. By adopting from a shelter, you’ll not only save a life, but save a lot of money as well.
Myth: I want a purebred cat / dog and can only find one from a breeder.
Fact: An estimated 25% of shelter dogs are purebreds. So whether you’re looking for a cocker spaniel, husky, or poodle, you have a good chance of finding a purebred pup at one of your many local shelters or sanctuaries. And since most shelters have online lists through Pet Finder and Adopt A Pet, you can search online for your perfect furry friend. The same goes for cats as well! A simple internet search will yield hundreds of purebred cats in shelters near you, from pretty Persians to sassy Siamese.
Myth: I want a really cute designer dog / cat that is super pretty, but none of the local shelters have any. I’m willing to pay money to a breeder for the perfect pet.
Fact: It is tempting to buy that third-generation show cat or designer dog that will be the envy of your friends. But while they may look perfect on the outside, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Inbreeding is rampant among the breeding community. You wouldn’t marry and procreate with your cousin or second cousin, but that’s exactly what breeders do—they match animals based on their perfect physical traits, oftentimes without knowledge of their lineage or family health history. The results are devastating; many purebred (inbred) offspring are plagued with hip dysplasia, blindness, heart defects, epilepsy, and other genetic defects. The result is pain and suffering for the animal, and huge vet bills for you.
Myth: Shelter dogs and cats are more aggressive / have behavioral health problems.
Fact: Shelters and sanctuaries are composed of teams of paid and volunteer animal experts—veterinarians, animal behaviorists, trainers, and walkers—who can rehabilitate even the most aggressive dogs and cats and give them the best medical attention possible. As non-profits, shelters and sanctuaries are scrutinized by their donors and state agencies to ensure that they are rehabilitating the animals correctly. Most breeders, on the other hand, operate on private land behind closed doors without scrutiny from the outside world. There is no oversight regarding treatment of the animals, and there is no evidence supporting that a dog or cat from a breeder is any less prone to aggression than their shelter counterparts.
Melissa Cox is Director of Communications for Happy Cat Sanctuary in Medford, New York, a non-profit cat sanctuary, Trap-Neuter-Release agency, and adoption facility. Learn more at http://www.HappyCatSanctuary.org.