10 reasons why you should get a shelter dog

This article has been written by one of our young people from Milton Keynes.

Pros from buying from a breeder:

  1.  You can see your puppy’s parents so you know how they are going to look like as an adult dog.
  2. You know exactly what you’re getting.
  3. You have the opportunity to mould your puppy as it grows.
  4. If you’re buying from a good breeder it will already come well socialized.
  5. Breeders will offer you a genetic health test.
  6. Most breeders not only breed for conformation, but for solid temperaments. 
  7. Breeders are essential if you are planning to take your dog to the show ring.

Cons for buying from a breeder:

  1.  You’re buying a puppy. They are a lot of work just like a human baby.
  2. You are responsible for training your puppy.
  3. Breeders are usually more expensive than getting your dog from the shelter.
  4. Puppies need multiple vet checks and vaccinations during their first year of life
  5. Finding a truly reputable breeder that cares more for about the quality than quantity can be difficult.

A word about backyard breeders
Anyone can throw a male and female dog together to produce puppies. This doesn’t mean that they should. When dogs are bred without the proper knowledge of genetics, you often get unhealthy dogs with issues. Most backyard breeders don’t do any research on breeding. They just think that two dogs would pair well together and take it from there. Novice breeders are also unprepared for the amount of work required to care for puppies and the cost of vet care. They may want to watch the miracle of birth. However, once they have ten extra dogs running around making messes and chewing up the carpet, they get overwhelmed. These puppies often end up in shelters. If breeders aren’t breeding to improve the breed standard, they are just adding to the huge pet overpopulation problem.

Puppy mills
Puppy mills are commercial dog-breeding facilities where dogs are simply tools to run a business. I wouldn’t even put them into the category of “breeder.” However, it’s important to understand this awful practice in depth so you don’t unknowingly support it. It is estimated there are over 10,000 puppy mills in the US. Sadly, fewer than 3,000 are regulated by the US Department of Agriculture. This means that a lot of abuse goes unchecked. Many puppy mill owners keep their adult dogs in cramped, soiled cages standing on wire so that the urine and feces can fall through the openings. They usually deny them adequate mental stimulation and physical exercise. Many never leave their kennels except to be bred. These dogs are also not given decent veterinary care. They live truly awful lives devoid of kindness or empathy. While the puppies from these dog factories come out looking pristine by the time they reach the customer, they start life in horrible conditions. Many puppies die before they are weaned.

Often, since there is no genetic guarantee, you will find some issues that develop as the puppy gets older due to irresponsible breeding practices, such as bowed legs or hip dysplasia. The adult dogs often never escape; and may eventually be allowed to starve or are killed when they are no longer able to produce puppies to cut down on the cost of feeding them. This practice is illegal. Yet, if you look at past cases of these operations that were blown open by under-cover agents or whistleblowers, it is sadly all too common. Even if the puppy mill follows the rules, they are not required by law to treat these dogs as pets. They are only regulated – often very loosely – by the government to provide for their basic physical needs. If you take issue with dogs not being able to live with a family, but simply living their entire lives in cramped cages used as tools to create a product, then please don’t use your money to support this practice.

Sadly, most pet store puppies come from puppy mills. Please do some research on this before buying your puppy from a pet store to ensure you aren’t supporting this abusive system. If you buy dogs that are bred by people more concerned with turning a quick dollar than furthering the breed, you also contribute to that problem by rewarding the behaviour. If enough people stand up to this practice and they can no longer make a profit, they will stop this abuse. Puppy mills are a horrible place for dogs to spend their lives. We should demand better for these poor animals than simply being puppy factories for the greedy.

10 reasons why you should get a shelter dog:

1.     You save a life – this is maybe the biggest reason of all! By adopting, you’re giving a dog another chance at life. Some have terrible pasts, and have been abused, abandoned or left to fend for themselves on the streets. You are giving a dog a happy and safe home where they can learn to be a dog again!

2.     You won’t be supporting backyard breeders – many dogs are forced to breed as often as possible, and kept under cruel conditions in puppy farms. By choosing to adopt, you are avoiding these organisations and supporting animal welfare in the process.

3. You help stop pet overpopulation – by choosing to adopt rather than go to a shop or breeder for a specific type of pet, you are caring for a dog that already needs support instead of bringing another puppy into the world.

4. You might find your dream pet – with thousands of shelters, there’s bound to be one near you that might currently be home to the dog that is perfect for you and your family. After spending time at the shelter, you may fall in love with a completely different dog to the one you thought you wanted.

5. You gain the advantages of an adult dog – many dogs in shelters are adolescent or adult dogs rather than young puppies. But this means they’re likely to already know some basic commands or be housetrained, making your life a lot easier when you bring your dog home!

6. You get the lifetime support of shelter employees – no one knows more about the dog you are adopting than the people working at the shelter each day providing care and support for them. They will be able to assist you with the move and help you carry on any training or behaviour work.

7. You support a valuable community and charitable institution – it’s always good to show support and help out a local organization, and these shelters are providing a valuable service to the dogs in their care so by adopting one, you’re also helping provide for the ones left at the shelter.

8. You adopt a healthy pet – by adopting from a shelter, you can be assured that your dog has had excellent medical treatment, received any necessary vaccinations and may have even already been sterilised or microchipped, meaning it’s a perfectly healthy pet. 

9. You encourage others to do the same – people are sometimes wary of new ventures, but it only takes one of their friends to adopt a shelter dog and they’ll be assured it can go smoothly.

10. You’ll be rewarded with so much love and gratitude – many dogs up for adoption just want to find a loving home and their forever family, and are more than willing to show you bundles of love if you take the time to get to know them properly. Knowing you’ve saved a dog from an unhappy background brings eternal gratitude from your new loyal companion.

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