by Nathalie Tucker
You see a little puppy in the shelter. Its fur is matted, and it is trembling with fear. But when you walk up to it, its tail starts wagging uncontrollably. For a dog that was neglected for his whole life, he is very loving, and he’s just as adorable as any “designer dog.” So why do people buy dogs from breeders and pet stores when there are 4 million dogs, according to dosomething.org, waiting in shelters, at risk of being euthanized
People tend to want to buy dogs from breeders and pet stores for various reasons. Maybe they have severe allergies, so they need a certain type of hypoallergenic dog. This argument seems valid. Or maybe they want this one specific breed that they see on commercials and TV shows, or believe that common statement, “You never know what you’re going to get with a shelter dog.” This is where the concern emerges.
For one, buying a dog from a breeder is much more expensive than adopting a dog from a shelter. Breeders usually charge more than $1,000, while shelter dogs tend to cost around $300. Plus, shelter dogs already come with all of their vaccinations and veterinary checkups. Breeders might not cater to any of those necessities, and those veterinary expenses would then come out of the owner’s pocket.
By buying a dog from a pet store, you are contributing to the puppy mill business, where money and mass production matters more than the health and safety of those innocent dogs, according to thepuppymillproject.org. Many dogs that are rescued from puppy mills are severely underfed and have health problems including eye disorders, parasites and skin diseases. Additionally, purebred dogs are known to have more health problems in general because of the constant inbreeding going on and the lack of variation, according to humanesociety.org. The vast majority of shelters house mutts, which are known to have a lesser risk of health problems.
In addition, dogs in shelters are in dire need of a home. Some come from the streets, and some are just dropped at a shelter because the owner doesn’t want to take care of them. Some dogs end up spending their whole lives in shelters. The sad reality is that in many shelters across the United States, dogs that aren’t adopted are euthanized due to lack of space. This could easily be prevented if people chose to adopt, instead of buying from a pet store or breeder who manufactures dogs as if they were cars on an assembly line.
Nine years ago, my family and I adopted a six-year-old dog from a shelter in Princeton. He isn’t some purebred, poster dog. He’s a mix of a poodle and a Bichon Frise (at least that is what the shelter thought, considering they didn’t know much about his neglected background). He has had his own problems, including extreme separation anxiety and the occasional accident in the house. But none of that matters when he is cuddling up next to me and giving me numerous kisses to show his love and gratitude for his new life. He is now 15 years old and still living a happy, healthy life.
Of course, pet store dogs and dogs from breeders are lovable companions, too. But when it comes down to it, isn’t it more meaningful to get that lifelong friend you’ve always dreamed of while saving a life in the process?