The Importance of “Adopt, Don’t Shop”

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Animals rights groups and humane societies all around the world stand behind the slogan “Adopt, don’t shop”. The phrase itself is simple. Instead of buying your animals directly from a breeder or pet store, make the choice to adopt from pet shelters. The motivation and importance behind this slogan stems from various factors.

In order to properly stress the importance of adoption, it is crucial to analyze the reasons that result in pets being surrendered to shelters. Recent studies predict an estimated 6.5 million companion animals end up in shelters every year. Sarah Hock, the executive director of Joint Animal Services, the only brick and mortar shelter for Thurston County, thinks there are a variety of reasons behind this statistic. “Owning a pet is quite costly” she states. “A great number of people that surrender pets are because they can’t afford medical care”. Hock also brought up that moving, a lack of spaying and neutering companion animals, as well as a lack of pet-friendly housing, is another factor behind this immense number. 

One compelling reason to adopt your next pet is to help lessen the number of animals being euthanized in shelters. The Humane Society of the United States reports that over 1 million cats and dogs are euthanized each year. When asked the reasons behind euthanasia, Hock responded; “One, I would say a lot of people want to put the burden of euthanizing pets on shelters rather than doing it themselves. Two, I think a lot of people can’t afford euthanasia so they surrender knowing that’s going to happen.” As was stated previously, many animals are given up to shelters for situations such as moving, or cost, not necessarily behavioral issues (though that is sometimes the case). Hock also touches on the fact that some shelters kill their animals to open up more space in their shelters. Choosing to adopt saves animals from unnecessary death.

Choosing not to support the unethicality of puppy mills is also a significant reason to adopt. There are approximately 10,000 puppy mills existing in the United States, which produce almost 2 million puppies per year. “The standards that regulate puppy mills are not appropriate standards for any animal to be kept in,” states Hock. Puppy mills are breeding institutions that virtually all animal protection groups consider inhumane, and are very poorly regulated by the government. To paraphrase information from the Humane Society, it is very rare for the USDA to take away a breeder’s license, or fine a mill for repeated offenses on the conditions these pets are in. They also report that the majority of these dogs are being sold in pet stores, or online. Even if these animals find homes, the overbreeding of these animals have long-term effects on their health. “The overbreeding of German Shepherds has led to them having terrible hips and what is called hip dysplasia…it’s a 5,000 dollar surgery to fix it if they’re even a good candidate,” Hock stated when asked about her experience with puppy mills. It will be of more benefit to the animal’s health, and the owner’s wallet, to adopt, instead of supporting the inhumane breeding of some purebred dogs.

The slogan “Adopt, Don’t Shop” and the meaning behind it has not only sparked change among individuals, but also in our community. “The city of Olympia has already banned the selling of dogs and cats especially from puppy mills and pet stores,” Hock mentioned excitedly. Choosing to adopt a pet saves money, supports humane conditions for breeding animals and their offspring, and ultimately saves animal lives.