OPINION | Don’t shop for dogs, adopt from shelters

If you’re looking for a pet, head to your local animal shelter and don’t turn back. You need to stop supporting breeders.

There is no good reason for buying dogs from breeders, especially when there are already more than enough dogs in the world in desperate need of homes and love.

According to humanesociety.org, breeders sell an estimated number of 2.6 million dogs every year from puppy mills — crowded, commercial farms where purebred dogs are often raised in poor conditions.

In puppy mills, dogs are treated as products and their health comes after maximizing profit in many breeders’ list of priorities. Unfortunately, in many cases, puppy mills are often legal, and in the U.S., not all breeders are required to be licensed. When you buy a dog from a breeder, you risk supporting a business that could be abusing animals.

According to ASPCA, about 3.1 million dogs and 3.2 million cats enter animal shelters every year. Nearly 1 million of those are euthanized each year.

About 34% of pet dogs are purchased from breeders every year, while only 23% are adopted from animal shelters and the remainder come from a private party or other undisclosed source.

That said, there is never a shortage of animals at shelters. When you adopt instead of shop, you save an animal’s life, and there is not a more human act than to save another living creature’s life.

Animals living at shelters can often be stuck in subpar conditions, because humane societies and animal shelters are usually non-profit organizations with limited funding. They do their best, but there is only so much they can do. Animal shelters are not designed as long-term housing solutions for animals.

Shelter animals can sometimes be stuck there for a ridiculously long time, too, such as the sweet pup Granny Smith. Granny Smith was stuck at Tails Humane Society in Illinois for at least 5 months before getting adopted.

Photo from Tails Humane Society.

One argument I hear comes from people who want to get specially bred hypoallergenic dogs. However, I believe that if you are allergic to dogs, you shouldn’t get a dog. You should not be “playing god” and designing your own specially created dog, because dogs aren’t products for your consumption. If you’re allergic to dogs: guess what? Suck it up and get a cat. Get a lizard, a hamster, anything else. There are so many animals suffering every single day in shelters, and they’re not all dogs.

Another argument comes from people who want dogs without genetic disorders or dogs who aren’t predisposed to diseases. I get it, but if you can’t afford to properly care for a dog’s medical needs, you shouldn’t own a dog at all.

Dogs are not products, and they’re not toys. Bringing a dog into your home is not an act of shopping, but an act of taking a living thing in need under your care.

In our culture, we like to say we treat dogs as family members. It’s time we start actually doing that.