Why You Should Never Buy A Cat Or Dog
I know that this is going to make some people mad. Some of you read the title of this article and immediately started making excuses or arguing with the statement.
If you're immediate reaction was "but," and you are a casual pet owner--in other words you aren't someone who takes their dog or cat to pet shows or agility competitions or trains dogs for professional work such as guide dogs or police dogs--then really stop and think about the excuses that you are making.
Because as you are formulating those excuses, another animal---a perfectly happy, healthy and well-tempered animal---is losing its life because it couldn't find a home.
Could that home have been yours?
The Truth About The United States And Pet Overpopulation
In the United States, we have a surplus of adoptable dogs and cats. According to the Humane Society of the United States, there are at least 2.7 million adoptable pets that are euthanized every year.
That's a pet being put down every eleven seconds.
These are pets of every type.
Mixed and full bred cats and dogs in shelters often face a higher chance of being euthanized than of being adopted. A lucky few make it into rescue groups and no-kill shelters.
But most of them have a very short window to be adopted before having to be put down for lack of space, money and demand.
Here are some common excuses made by people who purchase pets from breeders and who refuse to acknowledge their part in the pet overpopulation problem.
And they are just that---excuses.
Argument #1: But I Want a Particular Breed of Pet.
And you can have one. You don't even have to look that hard to find a particular breed that is a certain age or has a certain look.
Not only are rescue groups for specific breeds available in almost every state (with transport networks in place) but shelters often receive purebred or mostly purebred dogs.
And if you then answer "Well I want papers" and you are buying this dog or cat as a pet only, then why in the world do you want papers? Pets should not be status symbols. They should be a part of your family.
Besides that, mixed breed dogs and cats who have predominant traits of a particular animal--such as a mixed breed Lab that looks like a Lab or a mixed breed Siamese that looks like Siamese----often exhibit the well-known traits of that breed but have less health problems and longer life expectancy.
Argument #2: Certain Types of Dogs/Cats Will Disappear If We Don't Support Breeders.
First of all; No, no they won't. There will likely always be purebred dogs available. This industry is not hurting.
In some types of breeds there is more breeding than demand--and guess where those unwanted puppies and kittens end up?
The truth is diversity in the domestic pet population is important. It keeps the gene pool fresh and stops the continuation of health problems related to specific breeds and kinds.
Ask yourself what you are really looking for? What are the traits that will work for you and your family? Then go on a search through shelters and rescues to find the perfect match.
Argument #3: I Want To Know Exactly What Kind of Dog or Cat I'm Getting and Their Temperament.
If you want to know what kind of cat or dog you are getting, your best bet is to adopt a one to two year old animal. Personalities are often not fully clear until that age. And this is true with ANY dog or cat whether purebred or a mix.
And often animals change over time. Even some of my more skittish or stand-offish cats over the years have mellowed out, become more affectionate, more vocal or more personable.
I have a fifteen year old chow mix, picked up as a stray, who has none of the chow temperament but does have the beauty.
Shelters and rescues and foster families can also tell you a lot about their foster animal's personalities and help you find a great match for your family's needs.
Argument #4: I'm Not Going to Spay or Neuter My Dog or Cat Because That's Just Cruel.
Many who buy a fullbred cat or dog claim that they don't want to have them fixed because it is cruel---not because they actually plan on breeding them.
Spaying and neutering is not cruel to a pet. They are perfectly happy and functional with or without their reproductive organs.
And they are also calmer, less likely to spray to mark territory and less likely to wander off if they sense another animal around them that they want to mate.
What is cruel is allowing your cat or dog to have kittens or puppies. Even if you find homes for them, you've displaced a potential spot that could go to a shelter animal. And so indirectly, you've taken another chance away for a homeless pet to find a place.
With millions dying every year---millions that don't have any health or temperament problems. Your insistence on continuing to allow your pet to breed is rude, greedy and selfish.
And if you are on a fixed income or don't have enough money, do a little bit of research. Many shelters and rescue groups will help you out and allow your animal to receive the operation at cost or even free.
Argument #5: It's My Money, I Can Do What I Want With It.
And you are right. It is your money. You can do what you want to do with it.
But maybe you should ask yourself why you are purchasing an animal in the first place? Is it because you want to brag to your friends that you spent X amount on a designer dog?
Are they an accessory like a purse or a new couch?
Because if you're spending money because you think it makes you look good, it doesn't. It makes you look selfish.
You don't want a pet, you want a symbol. In that case buy a new pair of shoes or a new car. At least those items don't have feelings and wants and needs.
And even designer pets get old or use the bathroom on the floor or get sick. If your impulse at that point is to not deal with it then you should reconsider your purchase in the first place when they are a cute and wriggling baby.
Argument #6: They're Just Animals. Aren't There More Important Things To Worry About?
First of all, if that is your attitude, please do us all a favor and don't get a pet. Anytime you justify actions or disregard any living thing with a "just," I have a problem with it.
They actually are living and sentient beings. Dogs and cats have high intelligence, emotions and empathetic ability. They are important, how they are treated matters and your attitude toward them as another living being matters.
The above argument is a red herring fallacy anyway. You don't have to give up belief in animal rights, belief in spaying and neutering and belief in adopting a rescue in order to also support other causes.
Argument #7: All Shelter Animals Are Sickly
As I pointed out in the beginning of the article, I am speaking of the United States and can't speak about other country's systems for handling stray animals and pets.
In the United States, reputable shelters and rescue groups will NOT adopt out sickly animals. Animals that are adopted out are expected to be tested, vaccinated and have medical records showing that they have a clean bill of health.
You are actually more likely to get a sickly dog from an unlicensed breeder or puppy mill for purebreds than you are from a shelter.
The 2.7 million dogs and cats that are put down every year are HEALTHY animals that have years of life left in them.
If you truly want an animal with the likelihood of fewer health problems then adopt a mixed breed dog or cat.
Find Any Type of Breed of Pet
- Pet adoption: Want a dog or cat? Adopt a pet on Petfinder
The place for pet adoption. Petfinder is the number one website for adoptable pets. Search over 350,000 adoptable pets from nearly 14,000 adoption groups.
How To Adopt A Rescue Cat or Dog
It's relatively easy to adopt a dog or cat that is right for your family. You can find many dogs and cat at your local shelter, through rescue groups and even online.
Try petfinder.com, especially if you are looking for a particular breed of cat or dog.
When you find the pet of your dreams, contact the group or shelter and let them know you would like to meet with the cat or dog.
Remember that there are likely fees associated with the adoption. But unlike that money you would pay a breeder, these fees usually cover the vaccinations, neutering and microchip costs of your new pet. It is often cheaper than if you had to pay for all these services yourself.
If This Makes You Mad Or Uncomfortable, Ask Yourself Why?
I know that the opinions expressed here will make some uncomfortable, some angry and cause some to just shrug and say "whatever, what my family does will not really change things one way or another."
If that's your feeling, I leave you with this:
There is an oft quoted story, attributed to Loren Eiseley's essay "The Star Thrower." It tells about a young man who, in taking a morning walk on the beach notices that hundreds of starfish have washed up on the beach and are now beginning to die in the early rays of the sun. The man begins picking them up and throwing them back into the ocean, one by one.
Another frustrated beach walker comes up to him and asks what he's doing. He tells him and the second man points out the ridiculousness of what he's doing. He points to all the starfish and notes that there's no way the young man can save them all. What difference does it make if someone saves these few when so many others will die?
The young man picks one of the starfish up and shows it to the man. As he throws it back into the ocean he notes that while it may be true, it sure does make a difference to this one.
Imagine if all of us had that attitude.