Adopt don’t shop appears as a frequent rallying cry on Facebook. Users share links to articles examining the reasons as to why people should not get their furry friends via pet shops. Rather than explaining the drawbacks to purchasing an animal through a pet store, I would like to emphasize the reasons why your local humane society, animal shelter and other adoption agencies are the better option in from a moral standpoint.
Long Island is home to various organizations that rescue and rehabilitate animals which otherwise would have been subject to euthanization. Bideawee, Bobbi and the Strays, Little Shelter and North Shore Animal League are groups found right here on Long Island and promote the welfare and ethical treatment of domestic animals. Other options include government-operated shelters such as those in Nassau County, the Town of Hempstead or Suffolk County.
Second Chance Rescue— an NYC-based group where you can find dogs, cats, horses, etc.— has a special focus on pit bulls and other terrier breeds. According to a 2016 study, dogs labelled as “pit bull” have an adoption rate 12 percent less than that of non-pit bull labelled dogs. However, according to an American Kennel Club survey, pit bulls and other terriers receive “canine temperament” grades comparable to those of Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers (83 and 86 percent respectively.)
As someone with firsthand experience adopting a dog from North Shore Animal League in Port Washington, I can confirm that the shelter lives up to its expectations as the premiere Long Island animal shelter. The staff and volunteers genuinely care about matching you with the most suitable addition to the family. Initially, my family was set to sign adoption papers for a dog and they suggested we reconsider this decision as there was another dog deemed better for young children. Subsequently, we adopted a four month old yellow Labrador Retriever (now 11 years old.)
I returned to North Shore last week to research why such a loving and adorable dog was put up for adoption. She was cute, house-trained (an impressive feat for a four month old) and mild-mannered. A staff member reviewed her file and disclosed that it is likely she was the product of a puppy mill in Georgia. He said that she came to the shelter with a case of kennel cough, usually indicative that she spent her first few months in poor ventilation— common for dogs raised in puppy mills. “Typically, the tell-tale signs of a puppy mill puppy [are] kennel cough, a purebred look and malnutrition,” he said.
Remember, your money only perpetuates the vicious cycle of unethical treatment by puppy mills. While spreading the word on social media and other forms of protest do help the cause, business and commerce make the world go ’round. Instead of buying pet supplies at a store that also sells puppy mill dogs and bred cats, go to PetCo or PetSmart — both work closely with rescued and rehabilitated animals.
By no means am I saying that animals that are bred are any less deserving of homes than animals presently in shelters. The fact of the matter is that dogs, cats, rabbits and all other pets choose what means and from where they come. If you did purchase your canine companion at a pet shop, you should take care of it and provide it with the best possible quality of life. If you are interested in adding a new addition to the family, I urge you to test the markets at your local shelter or humane society.