Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The shelter pet project

I was recently asked to write about the Shelter Pet Project which is an organization/ad campaign that encourages people to adopt their next pet.  Since there is not much I feel more strongly about I agreed!

So why get a pet from a shelter or rescue?  Better yet, why not?

Essentially, there really isn't anything an adopted dog or cat can't do that a "purchased" pet can.  If you are looking for a companion why spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a dog that you essentially just want to pet and take for walks?  If you want an agility or other performance dog I think it has been shown again and again a rescue dog can do just as well a high dollar dog.  I've seen plenty of MACh and NATCH dogs with no papers or pedigrees.  If you want a purebred dog you can find those too-there are plenty in shelters and breed rescues.  If you want a particular color, coat, size, etc they are all out there if you spend a bit of time looking.  And if you consider an adult dog you will know exactly what size it will be, what kind of coat it has, what it's temperament is like and more.  If it has been in a foster home it may be house-broken, crate-trained, etc.  And for less than the price of most "purchased" pets it will probably already have some or all of the following done:  spayed/neutered, vaccinated, dewormed, heartworm tested, and microchipped.

If you simply look long enough you will find what you want, or maybe even a kind of dog you would not have considered.  Some people spend lots of time looking for the right dog from the right breeder, why not spend that time looking for the right dog from a shelter?  And if you are doing the impulse buy or getting a dog from a newspaper ad, pet store, parking lot sale or breeder you haven't researched then you are really just supporting the puppy mills and backyard breeders.  Why not save a life instead?  Be a part of the solution, not the problem.

We had someone look at one of our very sweet, healthy, social rescue puppies this weekend at the trial.  She has the personality and play drive and fearlessness to make a great agility prospect.  The person's companion said why would you want that dog when you don't know anything about it's genetics and bloodlines?  Really? So a perfectly wonderful puppy should be denied a home and be allowed to die in a shelter because we don't know who its parents are?  There are plenty of dogs that come papers that also come with problems.  And plenty of homeless pets whose only problem is irresponsible breeders and owners who allowed them to end up on death row.  Don't be that person.  Have an open mind.  Look at all the great rescue dogs around you.

And I know there are plenty of people reading this who are thinking yeah, that's nice, I hope those dogs all get homes, what a great story, yadda, yadda yadda.  But some of you will still go on and get your next dog from a breeder.  As if a rescue dog is good enough for someone else but not good enough for you.  Well, you would be wrong.  Take a look around you.  It's not just old, ugly, mean dogs in shelters.  Don't ignore the problem.  Don't shop.  Adopt.  It won't just be the dog's life that you change.


shanendoah@life by pets said...

While I agree that adoption is the preferred method of getting a dog, I actually have a post up today on why I am not actively against buying dogs. (All of my dogs have come from shelters.) One of the main reasons is that I believe the person getting a dog in a parking lot is saving a life as certainly as a person adopting from a shelter is.

Karissa said...

"Saving" one of those puppies being sold in a parking lot (which is illegal in my state, FWIW) is doing nothing but validating that idiot's "breeding program." That parking lot puppy seller will go home with a pocket full of cash and start planning his or her next litter -- After all, what do they care that their bitch is being bred on each heat cycle when it's cash in their pocket?

Same thing goes for those who think they are "rescuing" a puppy that looks sad & miserable in a pet store window. Every time you buy a puppy from a pet store you are supporting puppy mills. It might be hard, but you have to let that puppy sit there to make a point. If you really want it, just watch the shelter listings on Petfinder because it will most likely end up there one day due to temperament and/or health issues.

I do think that the average person or family can find their perfect companion through their local shelter or rescue. That said, I am not against responsible breeding and purchasing. I am leaning towards purchasing my next bc from a breeder so that I can have a bit better idea of what I'm getting (I only get puppies and puppies from rescue are a crap shoot as I learned with Secret) --- But then again, since I've had such a great experience fostering my current puppy, I'm now keeping an open mind about possibly doing a foster-to-adopt situation when the time is right. That way I can learn a bit more about a potential prospect before committing to adopting him -- and if it turns out that it's not the right puppy for me, at least I can help to find him the right home. :o)

Nicki said...

I guess I can't say I'm against truly responsible breeding or buying. But 1) there are so few that do and 2) I cant imagine ever wanting to or seeing why anyone else would knowing there are wonderful dogs available in the shelter. That said I do know several people with thoughtfully purchased dogs and I respect that, even if I might not fully agree.

Sara said...

The best dog I ever had was a rescue. I always considered myself the lucky one for having found her.

I do feel guilt for purchasing a dog. I did scour petfinder and our local shelter for weeks, before turning to a reputable breeder. Perhaps, if I had given myself more time, the right one would have come along in rescue.

Next time, I will try and be more patient.

Nicki said...

Yes, I agree it can be hard to wait until the right one comes along! Also depends how far you want to travel!

I had on occasion wondered if it would be easier to just buy a dog when I was struggling so much with Legend but I know I would always feel guilty about it. I guess for me I would rather adopt and take my chances on what I get than let a dog go homeless. When I look at my dogs and at my fosters I just can't imagine it any other way.

And in reality, some of those fancy pedigreed dogs may not have the speed and confidence issues that Legend has but that doesn't mean they Q any more-they just have different issues-knocked bars, no contacts, and so on.

I'm biased and jaded but I've seen too much badness in the world to feel any other way. Maybe someday this won't even be a topic of discussion but until then I guess all my dogs will be rescues.

And all in all I've had relatively good luck with the health and soundness of my dogs.

Border Collie Mom said...

I cannot tell you how many times people have asked me what line Maggie came from, or if I intended to breed her. And then some of them turn their nose up when I tell them that she is a rescue.
I also know people who purchased from a breeder who bred specifically for [agility, conformation, hunting etc] and the dog turned out to not be suited for that. Sure the breeder will take the dog back, but who would really do that?
My next dog is family member first. I will try to pick a rescue that will be good at agility, but if it turns out not to be his/her thing, then we will do something else, and I will love them just the same.

Lori and MACH2 Tulla Maggie Lou MXF-currently in the AKC top 5 Border Collies for 2012 Invitational- Adopted from Missouri-Kansas Border Collie Rescue

Sue said...

Better yet, do both. We have a blended family of rescued dogs and planned bred dogs. We're one big happy pack and everybody has equal care and equal love. It sure works for us.

Kathy said...
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Kathy said...

My one dog that is dysplastic and has a ton of allergies and noise sensitivities is the most expensive dog I have bought ;-), I bought her from a BIG name kennel and things happen but at the time I felt like I was making an investment so the dog would be everything I wanted-and I could guarantee they were healthy and sound....of course there are no guarantees in life which is something I overlooked.....well, I love her to death but I learned the hard way that paying more money does not guarantee you That does not even go into looking what you are supporting and how these parents are housed and live their lives-and that can be pretty hard to find out unless you put a lot of work into it. I think where ever you get your dog you have to think LONG and hard about what you are supporting ;-) and make sure it is something you feel good about, too many of my friends are really happy to buy from breeders that they freely admit are hideous and they would not trust and the conditions the adults/pups are raised in are really sad, nothing any of us would want for any of our dogs... but they will overlook these things to get the dog they think would be a cool dog to get and have a pedigree they can brag about-
I have done that myself bought a dog and not asked enough questions but I hope it has helped me learn.

Nicki said...

Kathy-it is terribly sad that you tried to invest in health and soundness and didn't get it. It's sad that breeders can build a big name and get away with that. It's equally as sad that people are willing to overlook the conditions their puppy came from just to have a dog with a certain pedigree or because they believe it will excel at certain sports or activities.

It's unbelievable to me that people don't think about where they buy their dog. Does someone really think that the parking lot is a good place to buy a dog? Even if it comes with "papers"? And for those who think it's a quality dog because they paid $1000 for it at Petland they can buy the littermate for $20 at the next puppy mill auction.