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Myths About Pet Stores and Breeders

Posted by at 5:36 AM | Permalink | Comments (9)


Each year, millions of lost and unwanted dogs and cats end up at animal shelters across the U.S. Half of those animals must be euthanized because of simple math: There are too many animals and not enough good homes. This overpopulation crisis is a national disgrace. While I take some comfort in knowing that animal shelters are at least able to give these animals a humane death as an alternative to starvation, disease, or abuse, I would much prefer to focus on some of the real roots of the problem–pet stores and breeders, and barriers to spaying and neutering.

We have a moral obligation to end the overpopulation crisis in order to reduce the number of unwanted homeless dogs and cats. When people buy animals from breeders and pet stores instead of adopting from animal shelters, they deny a needy animal a chance at a good home. As long as people support a market that treats dogs and cats as profit-generating commodities, we will struggle with the overpopulation crisis.

So why do so many people still buy animals from pet stores and breeders? Here are some of the myths that keep those dog and cat profits rolling in.

Myth #1: “My family needs a young puppy or kitten, not an old, ‘secondhand’ animal.”

Fact: Most pet stores get their “stock” from puppy mills and other sources that raise animals in unspeakably cruel conditions, and each purchase motivates these places to breed more. If your heart is set on a puppy or kitten, animal shelters have plenty of healthy and happy young animals to choose from. And consider this: For many people, the best choice for a new animal companion is actually an adult dog or cat. Adult animals are calmer and less destructive, and you can see exactly what you’re signing up for in terms of personality, size, and energy level. Animal shelters are a great place to find that perfect match.

Myth #2: “But isn’t it a good thing to rescue that puppy from the pet store?”

Fact: It’s a simple matter of supply and demand. As you take your new puppy home, the empty cage at the store will be filled with another puppy from the same puppy mill. Only when customers stop buying will the suffering end.

Myth #3: “The animal shelter is so depressing compared to the pet store-I just can’t go there.”

Fact: If you think it’s depressing, imagine what it’s like for the animals who have been abandoned there. When you adopt an animal from an animal shelter, you have the satisfaction of saving a life–nothing depressing about that! The pet store is actually an awful place if you think about where those cute animals came from. That puppy’s mother is probably living without any human contact in a barren wire cage and most likely has extensive health problems from constant breeding and stress.

Myth #4: “It’s fine to get a dog from a responsible breeder.”

Fact: There is nothing responsible about bringing more animals into a world where there are already too many. Just as with pet stores, each time breeders sell a litter, they’ll be motivated to breed and sell another one. There are only so many homes available for dogs each year, and for every slot filled by a dog from a breeder, there’s one home fewer available to a dog in a shelter.

Myth #5: “With purebred dogs, you can predict their temperament and behavior.”

Fact: Pet stores and breeders aren’t the only source of purebred dogs. Rescue groups exist for every breed of dog, and up to 25 percent of dogs in shelters are purebred. But if temperament and behavior traits are paramount, your best bet is an adult dog from an animal shelter. You could buy a Labrador puppy in hopes of having a dog who is gentle and good with children, but that puppy could grow up to be nervous and short-tempered–there are no guarantees. And many purebred dogs have been bred over the years for working behaviors that in this day and age are just not applicable anymore, like aggression, chasing, and digging. By selecting an adult shelter dog, you can get exactly the companion you’re looking for.

Myth #6: “Purebred dogs are healthier and longer-lived than mutts.”

Fact: On the contrary, purebred dogs are increasingly suffering from limited gene pools and have many breed-specific health issues. Cancer, respiratory issues, joint problems, heart disorders, and epilepsy are all seen frequently in purebreds. The BBC suspended television coverage of the prestigious Crufts dog show (the equivalent of the Westminster show in the U.S.) because of concerns about genetic illness in pedigree dogs in the U.K.

When you choose to share your home with an animal, support the lifesaving work of an animal shelter or rescue group by giving it your business. Animal shelters currently provide only 10 to 20 percent of the animals people take into their homes. By making animal shelters the first choice for finding an animal companion, we could dramatically reduce dog and cat overpopulation and save countless lives.

Have you heard other myths about pet stores and breeders? Let me know in the comments.

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    Genevieve says...

    January 18th, 2012, 11:53 pm

    Another comment I hear often (because I advocate adoption) is: “Second hand animals misbehave and don’t get attached to you”. Of course if you are reading this you probably know the answer but I think it is important to stress the potential of resilience of dogs and cats and their capacity to bounce back and shower us with their happiness and love.

    Shirley says...

    January 19th, 2012, 2:27 pm

    Through the years my husband and I always had dogs, mainly because of my love for a nice german shepard. but we also have had others, such as two dobermans, one with epilepsy. I would have to introduce my children in the home every night after school because this dog did not remember them. I had a hair shop in my home so would have to keep doors locked to keep him in the back room so he wouldn’t attack my customers. Then one night as my eldest daughter was kissing us goodnight, he went to attack her.

    Tucker says...

    January 20th, 2012, 11:05 pm

    BREEDING NEEDS TO STOP NOW AND FOREVER!!
    THE ONLY WAY IT WILL PHASE OUT IS THAT PEOPLE STOP BUYING FROM THEM AND SUPPORTING THEM!!
    THEY ARE ONLY IN IT FOR THE $$$$!!!! GREED!!!!
    THEY DON’T GIVE TWO HOOTS AND A HOLLER ABOUT THESE POOR DOGS AND THERE PUPPIES!!!!
    ADOPT~ADOPT~ADOPT~ADOPT!!!!

    RESCUERS WILL CONTINUE TO RESCUE BREED MILLS/PUPPY MILL ANIMALS!!!!
    HOPING AND PRAYING AS WELL THAT THERE WILL BE MORE AND MORE WHISTLE BLOWERS COMING OUT OF THE WOOD WORK LIKE CA~RAAAAZY!!!!!!

    samantha larsen says...

    January 21st, 2012, 1:37 am

    They should ban ALL BREEDERS period. Breeding animals shoud be ILLEGAL.

    Pet stores should NEVER BE ABLE TO SELL LIVE ANIMALS SUCH AS PUPPYS KITTENS , BIRDS ETC ETC , THEY ARE notorious for ABUSE/ NEGLECT ans plain ignorance dealing with animals. Until people realize animals are not “things” to be sold but living sentient beings with souls, we need to adopt the animals that ALLREADY need homes and stopmaking fro petty cash -more destined for the shelter and or abuse etc etc …

    Cheryl Dare says...

    January 21st, 2012, 4:42 am

    Maybe not quite apropo to this item, but a myth my mother believes is that cats are ‘sneaky’ I’ve explained the reason why cats move quietly and that she is anthropomorphizing, but she still doesn’t like cats. Actually, I suspect she doesn’t like animals at all.

    cath ens says...

    January 21st, 2012, 9:02 am

    to the person with the dog who had epilepsy – perhaps there was something more wrong than that …not all dobermans are nasty, aggressive or unpredictable any more than all poodles are nasty, aggressive, or unpredictable. An animals behaviour may have many roots; bad breeding, no socialization at any early age, medical problems, owners who were cruel, abusive or just plain ignorant of how to engage with their animals. There are no guarantees when buying an animal that you are getting the perfect ‘pet’ …all you are guaranteeing is that there is another animal in the world while there are still many homeless waiting for a chance.

    Randolph Carter says...

    January 21st, 2012, 5:05 pm

    One resource adopters seem to omit is an animal behaviorist. We adopted a poodle whom nobody wanted – we were his last chance. He had some aggression issues centered around abuse his former owners had done to him. We took him to a very talented behaviorist and she had him trusting her enough to allow her to take a bone from him in 20 minutes. She gave us some excellent tips (like using hand signals instead of verbal commands because dogs are visual animals). The whole trip cost $250, which included a return trip if necessary (it wasn’t). If you take a dog from a shelter and he exhibits bad behavior, take him to someone *good* (not some neo-nazi trainer) and let them work with your dog. They will do wonders and your rewards will be considerable.

    Olivia Monterroso says...

    February 29th, 2012, 4:07 pm

    A few years back I rescued a little three year old, short haired chihuahua, who had endured various kinds of neglect and abuse. The extent to which this poor dog had been abused became very clear to me when I brought him home and he seemed to always be sort of skiddish around people; this to the point where he would even cringe at the sight of a petting hand. However, as time went on, he grew to be more friendly and trusting toward us. Overtime, as we tried to gain his trust, he eventually became one of the friendliest, most full-of-personality dogs I have ever seen! It was extremely heart warming to see the change in him. And although I only had the pleasure of having him for three years (he passed away from kidney failure brought on by irreversible damage from the abuse) I am very glad to be able to say that I provided him with a loving and safe home for at least part of his short life.
    I must say however, that I believe some of the animal shelters I have come accross could use a little more friendliness toward people who are trying to adopt. If anything, just to make the process of adoption a little more feasible for the public.

    Amieb says...

    November 21st, 2014, 9:12 am

    This crisis is and should be compared to human trafficking, period! Breeding live creatures should be made illegal by the highest courts in all states.

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