Dog Lovers Unite
Are you a dog lover? I am. I have been a dog lover all my life. Having grown up with Great Danes, Dachshunds, and several mixed breeds and spending the greater part of my adult life with Mastiffs and a Labrador Retriever, I have amassed decades worth of opportunities to both love and serve the canines I adore so much.
It is with this background in mind that I feel I must speak out about a very serious topic.
This is a hashtag that is used by many people to encourage adoption over buying a dog. It’s pretty straight forward; adopt a dog, don’t shop for one. Got it.
I have noticed in the last few months some disturbing trends in when, why and how this hashtag is being used.
For example, I shared my article, the Top 7 Questions To Ask A Breeder When Buying A Puppy, a couple months ago on Twitter and within a few minutes I received a “I prefer to #AdoptDontShop.” Cordial enough.
But just last week when I tweeted a link to Selecting A Dog Breeder? 10 Things To Consider Before You Tie The Knot, I woke up to this heartwarming response (see image). Wow.
I get that not all rescue proponents share such vitriol, but it is clear to me there is a disconnect.
In this post, I want to present to you Big Dog Mom’s case against #AdoptDontShop.
6 Arguments Against the Use of #AdoptDontShop
#AdoptDontShop fails to consider why many of us choose not to adopt.
I could explain my reasons for not wanting to adopt a dog out of rescue, but quite honestly, my reasons are my reasons. Not yours. I will not defend my choice, and neither should you.
But to throw #AdoptDontShop in the face of every person who chooses a breeder over rescue ignores the very relevant WHY driving their decision, which is none of anyone’s business.
At its core, #AdoptDontShop implies that if you choose to “shop,” or in other words buy your dog from a breeder, you are defying all that is good and decent by denying a poor dog in a shelter that needs rescuing.
It’s not a zero sum game. One has nothing to do with the other. My decision to buy Sulley and Junior neither affects the people who choose to rescue nor the number of dogs needing it. My boys will be with me for life so we will never add to the proliferation of the rescue population.
Likewise, had I not chosen to purchase Junior and Sulley, it is not necessarily true that I would have adopted instead. This is not to say I will never adopt a dog. I may in the future.
Happiness is… buying and loving a purebred dog and not being judged for it.Big Dog Mom
3. Freedom of Choice
In America we are blessed with many freedoms. The Constitution grants us the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Pursuit is an operative word here. Our happiness is not guaranteed. Our right to pursue it is.
I pursue happiness in many ways. I have a husband and two children who bring me endless joy and happiness. I love to run for my health and run my own business writing Big Dog Mom. And I love well-bred, purebred big dogs. In memory of the late, great Charles M. Schulz,
Happiness is… buying and loving a purebred dog and not being judged for it.
If I choose to buy a puppy from a reputable breeder, that is my choice, my money and my freedom to do so. Me buying from a breeder does not, in any way, infringe on your ability to rescue a dog from a shelter if that is what you choose to do.
Neither one is better or worse than the other because, as I will illustrate later, me buying a puppy from a reputable breeder is NOT part of the problem.
4. Disregards Generosity
I volunteered at a local no-kill animal shelter all four years of high school, worked morning shift (3-7am) at the Veterinary school in college, and have spent the last 9 years volunteering and contributing to Power Paws Assistance Dogs and Arizona Animal Welfare League. I have had the pleasure of owning both purebred dogs and mixed breed dogs in my life, those that were bought and those that were rescued. Every one of those dogs was a blessing in my life.
In addition, most reputable breeders I know rescue dogs and support rescue organizations as a part of their civic responsibility and love for their breed.
The judgement that is implied with #AdoptDontShop seemingly discounts all of that generosity.
I did shop. I will continue to shop for the dog of my choice.
It is possible to shop without hypocrisy or homage while supporting outstanding rescue and service organizations like Power Paws and AAWL.
5. Reputable Breeders are NOT the Problem
Part of my issue with this hashtag has to do with the word “shop.” When I see or hear that word in reference to a puppy I immediately picture sickly puppies playing on shredded newspaper behind the glass in a mall pet store – a sight that infuriates and saddens me. But the word “shop” in this context is defined as any means of purchasing a puppy, which wrongfully includes reputable breeders.
Reputable breeders are NOT the problem, puppy mills and back yard breeders (BYB) are. For those of you who see no difference between the two, I respectfully ask for you to keep reading.
Reputable breeders screen their puppy buyers to ensure they are the best home, they perform health testing (eyes, hips, elbows, DNA, etc.) to safeguard against genetic disease, they sell on a contract with an obligation to take the puppy back at any point in his lifetime, and their passion is what drives them in everything they do for the breed they love.
Put simply, when you S.H.O.P. with a reputable breeder, you get Screening, Health testing, Obligation, and Passion.
Clever acronym aside, people who are buying a puppy from a reputable breeder are not window shopping. They are making a lifelong commitment to a new member of the family.
To lump all forms of acquisition by purchase under the umbrella term “shop” is both unfair and ignorant.
6. Reputable Breeders REDUCE the Number of Dogs Needing Rescue
They do this in three ways:
- A reputable breeder limits the number of puppies they produce, with many only having one or two litters per year or less. To illustrate, once I found the breeder I wanted a puppy from, it took me 5 years to finally bring Junior home.
- A reputable breeder screens buyers to ensure they will be the best home for the puppy, for the life of the dog. When my friend, and now owner of Blue the Rhodesian Ridgeback (Rhodesian Ridgeback: Gentle Hound Or Fierce Hunter?), was looking for a new puppy, she commented on multiple occasions how the scrutiny of prospective breeders was more rigorous than a job interview. My response was that she must be talking to the right people if that was how she felt. For more on this point, read Top 7 Questions To Ask A Breeder When Buying A Puppy.
- And lastly, a reputable breeder contractually commits to taking back any dog they produce for any reason at any time. Every contract I have ever signed for a puppy has stated that the breeder has the first right of refusal if the owner can’t keep the dog.
When you “shop” with a reputable breeder you are part of the solution, NOT the problem. According to the ASPCA’s National Rehoming Survey, pet problems are the most common reason that owners re-home their pet, accounting for 47% of re-homed dogs. Pet problems were defined as problematic behaviors, aggressive behaviors, grew larger than expected, or health problems owner couldn’t handle. All four of these could be solved for or prevented if the dog was purchased from a reputable breeder.
#AdoptDontShop or #ChoiceWithoutJudgement?
This post is NOT a defense of breeders or a denigration against those who choose to adopt. It is, however, an argument against the use of a divisive and judgmental hashtag which does little good to help the population it professes to advocate for.
#DogLoversUnite (and for the Big Dog Mom fans out there, #BigDogLoversUnite)
Let’s lose the #AdoptDontShop and work together to reduce the number of dogs needing rescue in the first place.
Dogs don’t judge. They live in the moment and love us unconditionally. Let them inspire and empower us to be our best selves.
Happiness is…. a dog loving community that honors the freedom of choice.