(Cover image courtesy Pixabay)
If it is time to add a new pet to your family, your first instinct might be to head to the local pet store. Though it is almost impossible to resist those adorable puppies in a pet store window, there are actually some major issues associated with buying a pet from a pet store. Keep reading to find out why you are better off adopting an animal from a shelter.
The Problem With Pet Stores
The majority of pets at stores are purchased from “mills” where unscrupulous breeders treat animals like breeding machines. The parents are neglected, required to get pregnant too soon after their last litter, and have their babies taken away too soon. Negligent breeding practices lead to a lot of inbreeding that can cause deformities. In many cases, these physical ailments will only show up once your pet is mature, leading to a shortened lifespan.
Once the animals reach the pet stores, their situations are not always improved. They live in cramped display cases with little mental stimulation or care. Employees tend to be trained more in sales and customer service instead of animal care, so they may not know how to properly manage the animals. All of the stress, infectious diseases, and poor care means that many pets at pet shops pass away before they can be bought. Even ones that look healthy might already be dangerously sick by the time you purchase them.
The ethical dangers of pet stores go far beyond just simple neglect. There are no laws regulating how pet shops have to dispose of their animals. Some stores have been caught killing animals if they are not sold within a certain time frame, especially if they are puppies and kittens that have grown too old. Even stores that do not take the cruelty quite so far still tend to have contracts that let them return the animal to the breeder if it does not sell. Breeders can then choose to abandon or euthanize these animals.
Benefits of Going to a Shelter
As you can see, pet stores are extremely unethical. Any animal lover should not shop at a store because they are giving money to a corporation that is responsible for so much animal mistreatment. Once you realize just how horrible pet stores are for animal safety and welfare, you have a few options such as buying from a local breeder or going to a shelter. Adopting a pet from a shelter is the ideal solution for many reasons.
First of all, a shelter is extremely budget friendly. The precise costs vary, but typically, you just need to pay for the vaccinations that the animal received. Some shelters may have a small fee, which is normally under $100 or so, to help with operating costs. In many circumstances, shelters are so desperate to find homes for their animals that they may even waive fees altogether. This makes adopting a far more budget friendly option than paying hundreds of dollars from a breeder or pet store.
Though most people automatically gravitate towards puppies and kittens, there are many benefits of selecting an older animal. Older animals are frequently housebroken, and many shelters take the time to provide more training for their animals. Since older animals already have a developed personality, you can easily tell what sort of pet you are getting by interacting with the animal. Mature animals tend to be calmer and less likely to destroy your house.
Finding an animal at a shelter also lets you explore new possibilities. You might have an idea of what sort of pet you want, but when you visit the shelter, you might find that another animal has the perfect personality for your needs. Shelters often allow people to play with the animals without committing to anything. Instead of being pressured by salespeople to make a choice and leave the store, you truly get to know the animals and make an informed choice.
A shelter is also an ethical choice. There is already a huge crisis of pet overpopulation from all the unwanted pets. Buying from a store means that you just encourage further overpopulation and excessive breeding, while adopting from a shelter allows you to provide a home for an animal that already exists. Rescuing a pet who needs your love and care creates a strong, unique bond between you and your new pet.
Even after realizing just how cruel pet stores are, many people end up going with a pet store anyways because they think their local shelter will only have undesirable animals. However, the reality is that shelters have a wide range of ages, species, breeds, and personalities. With a little research and planning, it is possible to find your ideal pet at a local shelter. You can find shelters specifically for certain breeds if you know exactly what you want, or you can take the time to visit multipurpose shelters until you find the right pet.