Mary Sheppard | Managing Editor
Does it surprise you to hear that 25% of all dogs in shelters are purebred? It shouldn’t, because it makes a lot of sense if you think about it. Too often, people do not realize the responsibility that comes along with purchasing a purebred puppy from a pet shop, never mind the major time investment that training and housebreaking require. Many purebred puppies also need special care or have dietary restrictions, and buyers underestimate the cost of this when they first purchase the puppy. Unfortunately, this lands many animals in shelters when they’re no longer cute, little babies. This is evident in the fact that approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, approximately 3.9 million are dogs.
It’s puzzling as to why people are willing to spend obscene amounts of money on a puppy at a pet store meanwhile there are so many dogs available in shelters for a fraction of the price. For example, The Danbury Animal Welfare Society charges a non-profit adoption fee around $225-$250, which usually includes vaccinations and the cost of spaying or neutering the dog. If you go to an establishment such as American Breeders of Danbury, you can expect to spend anywhere from $1,400-$3,400 depending on the breed, age, and gender of the dog. That price does not include spay or neuter fees. However, if you’re not open to any of the breeds or ages your local shelter has to offer, or if there is a specific gender you are seeking, you can visit a pet adoption site such as petfinder.com. On the site, you can easily narrow down a search so that your preferences can be matched with an available dog in your area.
A dog adopted from a shelter comes with a guarantee on good health and compatibility, and shelters conduct behavioral tests on all dogs before putting them up for adoption. Some shelters even go as far as teaching the dogs basic commands and housebreaking them before adopting them out. Shelters also make you aware of any health issues or special needs the dog may have, while pet shops often try to “cover them up” to make a sale. Believe me, I’ve seen it firsthand– I unfortunately worked in a pet shop specializing in selling purebred puppies when I was young and naive.
Many dogs in pet shops have health problems because overbreeding often occurs among irresponsible breeders. This leads to puppies that are more susceptible to conditions such as hip dysplasia, loose kneecaps, intervertebral disc disease, cataracts, “cherry eye”, epilepsy, and breathing difficulties. This is because people want wrinklier bulldogs, leaner greyhounds, and tinier teacup yorkies, so overbreeding of the desired traits ironically leads to undesirable problems. For example, according to the American Humane Society, more than 95% of bulldog births are achieved through C-section rather than natural processes, as a result of genetic defects from overbreeding.
If more people choose to adopt their dog from a shelter rather than a pet shop, we can end the sad reality that many dogs in the pet shop world face. If no one is demanding their dogs, breeders and pet shops will have no choice but to stop supplying them in such unnecessary quantities. This would give all of the dogs sitting in shelters a higher chance of being adopted out. After all, choosing to adopt is the more financially-conscience option, and you can smile from it, knowing you brought one shelter dog the day he’s long been waiting for.