I’m sure there are a few articles already written about why adopt don’t shop is a horrible and unrealistic slogan, but here is my observation of it and why I think adopt or shop responsibly is more beneficial. This is going to be a lengthy analysis looking at the the biological reasons why this mantra isn’t sustainable and just the realistic life reasons why its designed to be ineffective and to fail therefore its just meaningless propaganda.
Pet ownership is not a one size fits all. What you want to get out of the relationship with a pet, your lifestyle, what you’d like to do with your pet, what you think is cute even all varies from person to person. The adopt don’t shop mantra is a generalized slogan that doesn’t account for that. Anyone who bandwagons onto this slogan idealistically thinks that if everyone adopted all their pets and we all collective stopped the demand for cute bred puppies then we would reduce the number of animals euthanized, those homeless and eliminate the need for shelters because you would have fixed animal overpopulation. This is unrealistic, idealistic and pretty stupid.
I know, I’m being offensive. I don’t intend to attack anyone’s feelings or pride or anyone personally but the premise of this slogan is something I’ve seen divide so many of the general public and leads to people getting heated and fighting over a truly silly piece of propaganda that doesn’t solve anything.
Here’s the reality:
- People will always have selfish desires. Companion animals were created and designed out of human desire. People enjoyed these cute furry companions that could be used for a multitude of functions. This has not changed. Whether you need a farm dog to herd or a small cute apartment companion because you live alone and want a friend. Companion animals, dogs in particular, even though society has changed, have no lost their place or function in it. They still exist in people’s homes because that is the will of human desire.
- Animals in shelter or foster environments are altered to not reproduce.
- Companion animals live significantly shorter lives than humans. Between small and large breeds, let’s say between 7-15 years. If all animals were altered and then none bred, you’re looking at the eradication of companion animals in society if we all agreed and put adopt don’t shop into practice.
- There is nothing effective in place to control and regulate the number of companion animals, their reproduction or their quality of care in the United States. As a society we fail to agree on even issues like health care, anything proposed to regulate animal ownership would not pass.
- The average animal found in a shelter or rescue situation is not bred with any purpose or concern for the health and well being of the animal. Yes there are healthy shelter animals, but the reality is that there are many that are not healthy. Factually there are many animals who end up in shelters as a result of irresponsible breeding practices. Meaning you’re looking at purebred animals and mixes that are just mixed and matched to make a buck. Yes there are dogs that are mutts who natural selection may have allowed them to survive and reproduce and they are fine for their lifetime, but companion animals are still a result of artificial selection from humans. We need to own that fact and accept it. If someone wants an animal, they should be given the knowledge needed to make informed decisions about acquiring as well as caring for that animal.
- Not everyone has a companion animal for the same reasons. Applying this to dogs, some people enjoy specific activities with their dogs that are better served by getting a specific purposefully bred puppy, something that cannot be substituted for easily or at all by a dog found at a rescue or shelter. This includes working dogs, sports, hunting and conformation to name a few. Applying this to cats, some people need a hairless cat for allergy purposes, or participate in cat shows or like specific behavior and physical traits. Many of these individuals aren’t even candidates for someone who would be looking for a shelter pet anyways. Let’s not forget my first point about desires. Some people just want a specific breed and specific age. Some people want a genetically tested, health guaranteed animal that they can have records of all close related relatives.
Instead of ineffective slogans, my suggestion in people should be more willing to have a real conversation and share knowledge. If you or someone you know is getting a pet, look at what you want and need from that experience, the commitment, what your lifestyle is like, your budget and from there select what is a responsible choice for that person and situation.
Let me end with saying that adoption is great. Anyone who has the desire and ability to take in any animal in need should do that but propaganda like adopt don’t shop is pushing people to engage with others in a conflict bound way where people take a moral high ground and dig in. It’s not an effective way to combat a problem and it’s not doing animals much favors in the long run.