Originally “Adopt Don’t Shop” was created to bring attention to all the amazing pets available in shelters and rescues across the nation. The marketing technique was very effective and pet adoptions have continued to rise the past few years, along with the judgment of those who choose to buy from a breeder.
One of the best parts of my job as a veterinarian is the new pet visit. Owner’s present their new family member with pride for the first exam. While performing a thorough exam, I always ask them to share the story of how they found the new addition. It helps me plan out any routine preventatives they need and allows me to connect and be excited with them about the new puppy or kitten.
Recently though I have noticed a disturbing trend. Owners start speaking in an apologetic tone as they share that they purchased the pet from a breeder. This is often followed by a list of reasons why they chose to go to a breeder over getting a rescue. Or they tell stories of rescue fails that eventually sent them looking for something different. As a veterinarian, I believe the MOST IMPORTANT thing that should matter when you choose a new pet is that is the right pet for YOUR family.
The implication that a pet is only worthy of a forever home if obtained from a shelter, rescue, or as a stray is misleading. It assumes two inaccurate ideas. One being that all rescue animals will be put to sleep unless YOU go out right now and save one. The second being that all breeders are evil and by purchasing a puppy from them you are supporting their evil, money-generating puppy mill empire.
Using #adoptdontshop to promote intolerant behavior towards certain pets is aggravating. The guilt is intended to be placed on well-intentioned new pet owners. The perception that you are selfish or just plain immoral if you purchase a dog from a breeder is hurtful to all pets.
I propose that there is a happy medium. It might not be as catchy, but I wish we could instead say Pick Your Next Pet Responsibly or Do Your Research and Find the Best Pet for You. There are responsible breeders in this world. They test for genetic mutations, breed for good behavior, and do not have too many litters a year. They often enter contracts with new owners stating they will forever be responsible for the puppies and want them back if it does not work out. Their primary concern is the health and wellbeing of their puppies and kittens. They want the RIGHT home and not just any home.
Over and over I have seen the happiness BOTH rescue and intentionally bred pets have brought to their new owners. All pets need a home. Let us join together to encourage people seeking a new pet to make the best, well-informed decision for their family. That will be the best solution to keep pets in the home forever, no matter where they come from.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the DrAndyRoark.com editorial team.