When you’re ready to add a four-legged friend to your pack, we implore you to choose love and not support cruel breeding. This means not getting your new pet from a pet store—except those that do adoptions only—and steering clear of online puppy sellers. Before you go hunting for a breeder, please consider saving a life by giving a home to a great dog or puppy who really needs it.
Love Is Love
Some people hold the unfortunate opinion that there’s something wrong with the dogs who wind up at shelters, but that’s simply not true. The only difference between a pet and a temporarily homeless dog is that one was luckier. In most cases, if you spend a solid day or two with a compatible dog, you will fall in love with that dog—no matter his or her breed. Isn’t it interesting that everybody thinks their dog is the best dog in the world? We were built to bond with each other.
“But I’m Certain I Want a Malti-Peeka-Doodle-Dor”
If you’re partial to Pugs, loco for Labradoodles or wild about Westies, we get it! A lot of people have a strong personal preferences when it comes to dog breeds, whether it’s based purely on looks, a breed’s reputation or nostalgia for a favorite childhood pet. While it’s possible to find an adoptable purebred or “designer breed” puppy at an animal shelter, consider that maybe what you’re really looking for isn’t really a certain breed, but what that breed represents—a buddy for your kids, a super-smart activity partner or a snuggly couch potato.
Open your mind and your heart by giving the adoption counselors at your local shelter a chance to use what they know about their resident animals to set you up with a great match. Many are experts at this. All dogs—even within a specific breed—are individuals, with individual personalities and dispositions. And lest we forget, some of the most gorgeous, hearty and unique dogs are mixed breeds. When you can’t tell what kind of dog it is, that’s a pretty cool dog.
The Opposite of Cruelty
When you buy a dog from a pet store or online, you might be supporting the cruel breeding industry, however unintentionally. But when you adopt, you’re directly supporting life-saving work. A shelter’s or rescue’s adoption fee, when there is one, goes right back to funding its efforts to save, treat and rehome at-risk animals. It allows the shelter to continue to serve as a community resource. And beyond dollars and cents, an adoption provides a second chance for your new pet and opens up a space for the next pup who arrives needing help—your act of kindness has a ripple effect that can impact many lives.
The Right Dog Is Waiting!
There are animal shelters, rescues, fostering networks and adoption groups in every corner of the country. Find the next love of your life by searching the ASPCA’s Adoptable Dogs database, or look for animal welfare groups in your area here. Unlike a pet store puppy, dogs obtained from reputable rescues will have received proper veterinary care, including vaccinations and usually spay/neuter surgery, saving you time, money and scary surprises.
If you’ve got your heart set on a particular breed of dog and haven’t been able to find one for adoption at a local animal shelter or rescue group, we suggest contacting breed-specific rescues. These volunteer-run networks of breed devotees are easy to find online and often have regional chapters. While there may be a waiting list for adoptable dogs, a breed rescue can save the day when only a particular breed will do.
Finally, if you do end up using a breeder, do your research to make sure you are not supporting cruelty.
Our nation’s animal shelters are the backbone of the animal welfare movement. Their work is difficult, ceaseless, and often thankless. Please support your local shelter by visiting, volunteering, donating, and most importantly, adopting. You’ll be fighting puppy mills and acquiring a great origin story to tell your new friends at the dog run.