I had a couple of thoughts last night, dangerous I know.  They stem from a  key question:

“Why are so many people convinced that pet ‘adoption’ differs from pet purchase?”

The question struck me after reading the following comment on Twitter and the HSUS response. (click here)  The original comment was, “So discraceful.(sic) I would never buy a pet-Adoption is my first/only option!”  The HSUS response?  “AMEN”  

In the legal sense, every pet acquired by paying a purchase pricean adoption fee or minimum donation is purchased.  Yet, ‘adoption’ is held up as morally superior.

A significant difference between the idea of conventional purchase and ‘adoption’?  Typically that one is not obtaining the pet from the person responsible for the breeding, though even this is not a hard and fast criterion if including USDA commercial breeders in the calculation. 

Another significant difference between the conventional purchase and adoption? Conventional purchases typically involve intentional breedings, whereas adoptions often as not involve unintentional breedings. 

Conventional purchases involve a majority of pups and a minority of adults, most ‘adoptions’ involve a majority of adults or seniors and a minority of pups.  This is the single most differentiating factor between conventional purchases of pets and ‘adoption’.  

These factors sum the most critical criteria for a prospective pet owner to consider.  Are they better suited to handle a young pet or an older one?  A known temperment or an unknown temperament?  Can they handle training young pet? Can they handle one with longer term behavioural problems or training deficits?  Are they willing to deal with the uncertainty of an unknown health history or does known health history of pet and parents make for greater peace of mind?  

 Every pet is the result of a breeding, intentional or unintentional and people typically don’t attach much value to that which comes cheaply or free.  Shouldn’t we be willing to commit resources to obtain a pet, which is ideally a lifetime commitment?   I own the full spectrum of pets.  I have a cat I purchased from a city shelter, another cat from a friend who couldn’t keep him and a dog purchased from a breeder.  I will have them all with me for the length of their lives.

Owning a pet is a choice.  Choosing the pet you can commit to for a lifetime, whatever the source is the ‘right’ choice, the ethical choice, the humane choice.  Choose what makes you human(e)

Copyright 2009 by Erica Saunders   http://AR-HR.com
All rights reserved

8 Responses to “Why does the HSUS condemn pet purchase?”

  1. zotzer says:

    Somewhere there are statistics about the relationship between how much money someone spent to acquire a pet, and whether it lands in a shelter. I will see if I can find the references.

  2. John Galt says:

    There is plenty of documented research that shows that pets that are procured for free or for a loss financial threshold commonly called an “adoption fee”, the less vested interest the person has to keep the dog and provide for its health until death by natural causes. Many adopted dogs are returned to the original shelter or to another “when things don’t work out.” Shelters also fail to provide support with extended training for pets after placement, or even health guarantees or insurance.

    Since many shelter dogs are becoming “adoptable” only because they have been confiscated from breeders for alleged, yet unproven, violations, these dogs are actually being SOLD to new owners as the breeders are usually charged several thousand dollars purportedly for the care and boarding of the dogs at the shelter–even though often the dogs suddenly become available for “adoption” in the matter of a few days–barely enough time to give them a bath and trim their nails! That means that any “adoption fee” is not only a profit–but also means that the collection of boarding and health care fees is also profit as well.

    Yes, the public is being duped.

  3. Rescue Guy says:

    Cutting up shelters with a bit of a wide swath, aren’t you, John? You might be better providing individual examples, rather than condemning all shelters as ‘dupers’ of the public. As someone who works with a rescue network, I know how much money can be poured into an animal before it is even ‘adoptable’. And, yes, we charge a fee to adopt–but when it includes all shots, spay/neuter and vet vists, it is still a steal for the new owner and a loss for the network.

    And I really don’t think that all shelters are taking blood money from breeders in order to make a profit. If you know of one shelter like this, make a report, but do not assume that all shelters are run this way. Those that are, I agree, are twisted and should be shut down.

  4. John Galt says:

    In response to the comment, my remarks never said “all shelters”–those were your words, Rescue Guy. But in case you do not follow the many stories of shelter releases, I can give you two examples in the recent past just from Illinois alone. In March Chicago Paws took in 60 Chihuahuas from a raid. The breeder was fined $7000 to cover shelter expenses as originally reported in the Chicago Tribune, but the 60 dogs were available for adoption, again according to the Tribune, within 3 days. People lined up at the door for them. In yet another example in Illinois, the Belleville Animal Control took in 19 cats that it had confiscated from a hoarder. In this case, fines were never reported in the Chicago Tribune, but the fact that the shelter finally euthanized all 19 was reported. According to that report, Belleville Animal control euthanized them not because the cats were ill but because the shelter did not have enough space to house them. Hope these two examples help you understand.

  5. Pai says:

    It's considered morally superior because the 'adopters' are saving a life. People who buy a dog are often hinted at as being selfish or heartless to 'let a shelter dog die'. I wonder if that's not one of the reasons a lot of 'AR' organizations staunchly oppose 'No-Kill' animal shelters — they would lost their MAJOR 'moral superiority' point if it was no longer the norm to routinely kill healthy animals in animal shelters, as well as losing the ability to slander all pet breeders as unethical 'greeders' making money off the blood of dead shelter pets.


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