Social Question

Jude's avatar

Do you turn to a shelter or rescue group when wanting a pet. Do you suggest that to others, as well?

Asked by Jude (32134points) December 20th, 2011

All of my pets have come from the Humane Society. My sister picked up a kitten at a pet store, and just last week, she told me that she was thinking about purchasing a puppy from there (she was all excited). My response, “why don’t you get a dog at the shelter, or rescue one (I sent her a link to pet finder).” I think that she was a little put off by my email, but, who cares?

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64 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

My pets showed up in my yard and said we’re moving in. But yes, I would go the shelter route if I get another.

tedd's avatar

When I got my dog I decided I wanted a pure breed Siberian Husky. I found a Husky rescue group in Ohio and got him from there (he had been saved from a kill shelter, where he was a day away… pure breed Siberian Husky, one year old… about to be put down).

I got my cat off craigslist. He was rescued by this nice pair of ladies in my town. His previous owners moved and had left him, so they came in and picked him up, had him neutered, and then I got him.

comity's avatar

I have for the past several years and I also do animal rescue of cats dumped in the park adjacent to my home. When my last Bijon passed, I adopted a 10 year old Shitzu/poodle from a rescue group that has a senior for seniors program. His human mom, suffering from Alzheimers was sent to a a nursing home. All skin and bones because she forgot to feed him, he was 12½ lbs when we got him and 22 lbs now. I fatten em all up including me. ; ) I don’t necessarily suggest it to others, but I donate to and help promote local rescue groups in the hope that others will follow suit.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I understand why your sister was put off. I had the same response when my kids told me the same thing when I purchased my purebred Cheshire cat. I just don’t really like previously-owned pets because they often have developed bad habits that are hard to break. And I really had my heart set on a Cheshire cat, and was finally financially able to get what I wanted.

Sometimes shelter animals are great, and a good way to go, but sometimes that isn’t what you want. Trust that your sister knows what she is doing.

marinelife's avatar


picante's avatar

All of my pets (and that’s quite a few animals over time!) have come from shelters or have otherwise been abandoned/rescued. Those cuties in the pet shops need good homes, too. I think it’s a very personal choice, and I support all sides of the equation.

syz's avatar

Buying animals from a pet store supports puppy mills. Don’t do it.

If you must a have a pure-bred, buy from a reputable breeder.

wundayatta's avatar

Wait… people get pets from somewhere else besides a shelter? [faints]

Honestly, I never hear of anyone getting pets elsewhere. Must be the kind of people I know. But pet stores—puppy mills—doesn’t everyone know they are evil? I guess if you don’t know that, you must be completely ignorant or totally into appearances and not into what really matters in a pet: personality.

I don’t sound judgmental at all, do I? ;-) But maybe the world I live in is so different from the world most people live it. I just can’t recall anyone ever saying anything good about a pet store.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I got one of my cats from an abandoned mommy cat who decided to have her kittens in the neighbor’s dog house. I took mommy and other babies to a no-kill shelter.

If a person is looking for a specific breed, they would normally go to a breeder. If they are looking for a ferret, bird, fish, guinnea pig or hamster, then a pet store would be the natural choice. Pet stores are not evil . . . jeez.

oldgranmum's avatar

I second @syz opinion, I’d prefer to work with a rescue group, but I have gotten pets from pure-bred breeders in the past. I know the animals in pet shops need good homes as well, but I don’t want to support the industry. If you just made a suggestion, then she shouldn’t get put off, but she’s an adult and you have to let her make her own decision.

wundayatta's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt They aren’t evil? I thought they maltreated animals? Didn’t care about them. Just want sales.

We always got pets from neighbors or, when it came time to get a guinea pig, from a local meetup of enthusiasts. I think it was a competition. The prices were a lot lower and experience was much more interesting than going to a store.

Anyway, I have never heard anyone say a good thing about a pet store, so my impression is that they are not good. Logic tells me there must be some good to them, but I tend to know a lot of animal loving types, so my sample is probably biased.

JilltheTooth's avatar

As slanted as your Q is, I guess I’ll risk it and answer it anyway. First of all, not every pet store that sells puppies gets them from puppy mills, but it takes probably more research than most people want to do to determine which ones use puppy mills, and which ones sell “not show” quality puppies from breeders. Secondly, there is nothing wrong with buying a puppy from a reputable breeder. If you have specific needs and/or wants relative to a dog or a cat, it is a good idea to get an animal from a breeder. I’ve adopted stray cats, rescued abused dogs and bought puppies from breeders and all of those choices have been good, in spite of those who push the agenda that shelter animals or rescue animals are the only way to go.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@wundayatta You can’t generalize like that – I am sure there might be bad ones around, but I certainly wouldn’t even say that the majority are bad. Animal rights groups are very diligent at monitoring pet stores. In my city, pet stores don’t carry dogs or cats. They do have birds, reptiles and other small mammals, sugar gliders, ferrets, hedgehogs. They even have the local shelter set up a display in their store every Saturday with shelter dogs and cats.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I have turned to both shelters and accredited breeders depending on what I am looking for in a pet. However, given the choice and in an ideal situation, I would always prefer to rescue and I definitely ask people who are looking into getting a new pet whether they have considered rescuing. In respect to dogs, there are certain breeds that I will only get from a shelter rather than a breeder. Bull terriers for example. They are often the breeds that are put to sleep in shelters because, due to their reputation and sheer quantity that need homes, they are not easy to rehome. Certain breeds, like my favourite, the Skye Terrier, are not easy to come by as rescues so I would be more likely to get one from a breeder.

I don’t judge people that buy from breeders. My mum will only have a dog from a breeder so she can be sure she has more chance of knowing it’s history. She is scared of dogs she hasn’t known from a young age so I can’t blame her. I just beg the people that do decide to get an animal from a breeder that they go to a responsible one and not one that is just trying to earn a few bob from their two year old teacup breed bitch.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

One thing I haven’t seen mentioned is a shelter or rescue animal is going to take some extra work. They may have been traumatized so their behavior may be affected. I couldn’t go anywhere close to my female dog if I was wearing gloves initially. I don’t know why, but it totally freaked her out.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I totally agree with @JilltheTooth. I rescued my dog from a shelter, took in a stray cat that some little neighborhood girl had found (said cat has become the furry love of my life), and took in a kitten from a friend’s mama cat.

Might I add that our rescued dog was apparently so mistreated by her previous owners that she has had to have every single tooth removed, AND she would not go near any men for the first two years. She will approach men now, but only if I’m with her. Shelter dogs take a lot of extra patience and re-training sometimes.

That being said, I do plan to own both a Sphynx and a Bengal in the future, and if I can’t find one in a shelter, I will adopt one from a reputable breeder.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I would, but my pets are all strays. I do recommend a shelter or rescue if someone is looking for a pet, and I suspect I would do the same… but I don’t really remember a time in my life where I was in that position. My pets have always found me, I’ve never really been in the market for a new pet.

JLeslie's avatar

Yes. Well, two of my cats growing up were strays. I have never had a pet that was from a pet store or breeder. I know a couple people who bought from reputable breeders, but most people I know would go to a shelter.

janbb's avatar

I am thinking of getting a King Charles Spaniel and i would be wary of getting a rescue one because often purebred rescue dogs have come from puppy mills and have congenital problems. If I decide not to worry about a specific breed, I will look at our local SPCA but i hear they have mainly pit bull mixes at this point. If I do actually do get a dog, I will look at all the options and my own needs before deciding.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

My next cat will be a Bengal, and no way would I get one of those except from a reputable breeder. They have to be bred (I think it’s 3) generations out, and absolutely have to be bred for docile personality.

I have had in the past a pomeranian, a Shih Tzu, a border collie, a blue heeler, a Maine Coon and Persians (not all at the same time, of course.) I just like purebreds. So it does put me off when I have my heart set on a certain breed, but someone says “no, don’t get that beautiful pet. Go get a mutt or an alley cat instead.” Pets live a long time. If I am going to spend 20 years of my life caring for a pet, it is going to be the pet that I want.

tedd's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt Every animal you listed that you opted to go to a breeder for, is easily available at a high kill shelter probably within 50 miles of you.

Stop wasting your money on breeders.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@tedd It is actually very rare for the shelters to have anything but mixed breeds. They might call it a pomeranian or a maltese, but it’s not. Believe me, when I was young and poor, I did look for these breeds at the shelters. They might get purebreds once in a while, if you happen to go there on the right day or something, but it is like finding a needle in a haystack.

Just leave me alone. I like knowing what I am getting, and getting from reputable breeders.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Broad, broad statement, @tedd , and no mention of the issues that very often come with rescue animals. It is not black and white. You shouldn’t go to a breeder if you don’t want to. It’s only a waste of money if the person spending the money thinks it’s a waste of money.

tedd's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt Bull.

My g/f is a zoo keeper and her show gets domestics from the local kill shelters. They have multiple pure bred dogs, varying breeds.

My aunt and uncle have trained Border Collie’s for agility for the last 15–20 years. Four dogs, all award winners, all from the same high kill shelter down the street from their house… and all less than a year old when they got them.

I myself got a purebred Siberian Husky (roughly 1.5 years) from a high kill shelter, and my backup plan was in fact a Blue Heeler, ALSO at a high kill shelter (roughly 1 years old).

Maine Coons and Persian cats are a dime a dozen.. I see them all the time at the local pet smart on the shelter rotation.

Pomeranian I have another uncle who got his dog Buzz from a shelter.

The only one you listed I’ve not seen at a shelter is the Shih Tzu. I have yet another friend who got one of those ugly hairless dogs from a kill shelter..

You are being ignorant and/or lazy. If you don’t want to put in the time to look for a dog that’s exactly what you’re looking for an is about to lose it’s life because no one wants to give it a home… maybe you should rethink your priorities.

@JilltheTooth Not a single one of the animals I’ve listed above had any major problems. The biggest issue with any of them was timidness because past owners may have abused them. Especially in the case of the border collies, that was very easily overcome. I got my 1.5 year old purebred Siberian Husky for $200… fixed and ready to go on shots…. Do you know how much he’d have cost from a breeder? It’s the epitome of wasting money. I can get something for 10x cheaper by looking here, and it’s more ethical… but instead I’m going to just call this guy who claims to be ethical. Stupid.

How about a Grey Hound. You know how many of those things are put down every year? They’re practically handing out pure bred Grey Hounds that were bred by breeders purely for racing.

JilltheTooth's avatar

No, @tedd , she is not being “ignorant or lazy”. Goody for you for having a convenient list. I’ve been dealing with, training, adopting, buying, rescuing, helping find homes for, etc dogs for longer than you’ve been alive. You are naive and arrogant when you make statements like that ^ ^ ^. I appreciate that you are very comfortable on your high horse, but acquiring some education might actually be more beneficial.

tedd's avatar

@JilltheTooth Right off the bat I have the Aunt and Uncle who train the border collies… they’ve been dealing with shelter dogs longer than I’ve been alive.

The friend who has the hairless dog has been doing it her whole life, because her mother runs one of the largest animal sanctuaries in the Southwest, in Arizona.

Then lastly the g/f who’s a zoo keeper… I’ve met Jack Hannah personally and various other very involved figures with animals in general… And all of them mirror my sentiments on here.

So frankly, you guys are ignorant… and there’s nothing naive or arrogant about that….. That’s just simple fact.

Millions of animals are put down every year because nobody wants them, and hundreds of thousands of them are pure bred dogs and cats with no temperamental problems. If @Skaggfacemutt is too lazy to look for a dog for more than one day, or at more than one shelter… then maybe she shouldn’t have one to begin with.

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Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@tedd Don’t tell me what I want! Who are you to tell me what pet to acquire. I am the one spending the next 20 years with this pet. If you want a shelter dog or cat, have at it. If I want to go to a breeder and “waste my money”, well, it’s my money to waste.

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comity's avatar

Believe me, I’m a big believer in rescue and I practice it. But, everyone doesn’t think the way I do and I don’t believe in insulting or attacking, just educating. Hey guys! You’re beginning to sound like a family ; )

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augustlan's avatar

[mod says] Flame off, folks. There is no need to make this personal.

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stardust's avatar

I believe the best thing to do when thinking about getting a pet is to go to a shelter, etc. I don’t understand why people choose to pay in a pet store, where the animal is going to be looked after well regardless. I find visiting a shelter is an eye opener too and gets one thinking about the realities of owning and taking care of a pet

Supacase's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe All of my pets have been from shelters or rescues and you are right that they take extra work. Unfortunately, they don’t always work out no matter how much you try. We sadly had to return one dog to the rescue after a few months based on the recommendation-bordering-on-insistence of our vet.

We persisted in our search and now we have the perfect dog for our family. She was also a rescue and took some work – our daughter was the first child she had ever seen – but I can’t imagine a better fit.

We have a friend who has a dog from a store. I wasn’t thrilled, but it wasn’t my choice and I kept my mouth shut. I know her well enough to know that was the only way she was going to ever get a dog.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Supacase Sorry the one didn’t work out. Sometimes the abuse or neglect has long term consequences. But if you are able to work through it, what you get can be amazing.

comity's avatar

There is an area that no one commented about in rescue. I remember the SPCA in a town near mine, not telling all, so the dog would be adopted. My son and daughter in law were told that the dog they adopted was much younger than he was, I wasn’t told about a dog that had fear aggression and I had such a hard time. Went to a behavior therapist in the area who knew the rescuer and told me to give the dog back as the condition was probably known. I felt so bad, and such a failure, and so sorry for the poor dog. So, if you do want to adopt a rescue, make sure you know everything about the animal, the rescuer and rescue group so that its a positive outcome for both you and the animal. The dog I rescued that I couldn’t handle, was out to protect me according to the therapist, and would do well with a stronger personality. I’m not an alpha type. If we knew in advance what was, a lot of grief wouldn’t have been!

Supacase's avatar

@stardust Some people don’t want their eyes opened. Not saying everyone who goes to a pet shop feels that way, but I do have a friend who is like that and I knew better than to press the matter.

@Adirondackwannabe I wish we had been able to work it out, but it came down to working out the dog’s past abuse (which was downplayed by the rescue) and the safety of our daughter. I wish they had been more forthcoming about the fact that she would probably not be a good fit for a family with a young child. She was a sweet dog, she was just so nervous and afraid. I still have pictures of her and think about her a lot – I hope she found a good home.

Coloma's avatar

I have gotten pets in many ways over the years. Mostly found them, a few givaways through the paper, craigslist, and yes, several from the shelter which include my two cats now. One I JUST adopted 2 weeks ago!

He is awesome!

A 5 year old tuxedo Ragdoll named ” Myles.”

He is such a big, mellow monster cat!
Playful but extremely laid back, gorgeous, fluffy, with the biggest leg bones and paws I have ever seen on a cat.

He has integrated purr-fectly in 2 weeks and is just a big, happy, lug of a cat. :-D

stardust's avatar

@Supacase Yes, I hear you. I know a few people like that too.

Coloma's avatar

My only advice is that from shelters you must request a few “EXTRAS” in my expereince.

While most shelters are very good about working with you on any heatlh issues in the first month of adoption, I have learned that they do NOT, routinely worm or treat for other potential parasites.

I insisted that Myles be wormed, and when he had a bout of bloody diarrhea they gave me medication for potential Coccidia.

Upper respiratory infection, coccidia and giardia and other internal parasites are all potential issues for any cat or dog coming from a shelter or rescue environment and they are not treated as part of the mandatory vaccines, and other testing prio rto addoption.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@comity I had the same issue with our local SPCA. We adopted a cute male schnauzer in “perfect” health who had been vetted and all that rot. One day after we brought him home, he began acting strangely and stopped coming out of his crate. Later that same day, when I tried to put a food bowl in his crate to get him to eat, he took a snap at me. I took him to a different vet that had nothing to do with the SPCA and was told he had distemper, and it should have been noticed long before I adopted him. Needless to say, I took him back to the SPCA poor thing, made them pay for the second opinion from the other vet and picked out our current schnoodle, plus a new leash and two toys, for no extra charge.

syz's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt You are mistaken about the presence of purebred animals at the shelter – they are a regular occurrence.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@syz That’s what people tell me, but I have not ever seen one there. It’s true I don’t go that often, but I have gone whenever I have been in the market for a pet. I have noticed that they will call a cat a persian or a dog a pomeranian, but I can tell from looking at the pet that they are a mix at best. Just my experience. Maybe others have had better luck.

syz's avatar

We’ve had standard poodles, border collies, basset hounds, beagles, golden retrievers, Siamese, Persians, and Himalayans (just to name a few, and all clearly purebred), all rescued from the shelter, at our hospital just over the past year.

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deni's avatar

Yes, always the pound. I don’t get why anybody would buy a purebred dog from a breeder. Makes me wanna hurt someone.

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Coloma's avatar

I’d say that what you see in a shelter situation is not going to be the final morph of an animal that has lived under stress and in confined conditions for weeks or months on end.
My new cat while very mellow, is showing his bloom, so to speak. His playful side and is slowly manifesting his personality. This transistion can take weeks to months.

He was caged for 6 weeks, minus a very few, brief, moments of handling and attention. and Being free to explore, engage in play time and just fully “be” his self is a delight to behold.


There is no place to pass negative judgments on people.
There is NO shame or laziness or lack of caring involved if one decides that a problem animal is just not going to be a good fit. I give an ” A” for effort and helping a person or an animal does not have to mean being a martyr and putting up with destructive or dangerous behavior.

I bend over backwards to accomodate my animals needs but, I won’t deal with vicious behaviors or house soiling issues beyond the occasional accident or health related issues.

That has nothing to do with prestige or wanting a fancy pet, but it does have to do with not being willing to live in filthy conditions to support serious behavioral issues or to make excuses for a potentially dangerous animal because one is neurotic. THAT’S what stupid is!

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Meego's avatar

I would never purchase a pet from a pet store, rumor has it they are brought to you straight from puppy mills. But I feel so sad about that. Pets should be fixed before they are sold as a rule, that would cut down on all puppies and kittens born. It should be the law for the whole world and if you cant pay the fee you dont get the pet, it might prevent a lot of nasty stuff. I talked my mother out of buying a puppy from a pet store, you just don’t know about the dogs past and you could end up with more than you bargained for.

I just read the responses :/
@tinyfaery I this that is an unfair statement. My one dog is from a shelter he is neurotic but I can deal with it and actually I knew he may have a past and I would of never rescued him if I was not prepared to deal with it.

Fyi he has NEVER urinated or pooped in the house EVER! When he was a puppy he went straight where he needed to go.
what I mean by getting more than you bargained for is not knowing if the animal is sick or not

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Seaofclouds's avatar

[mod says] Flame off, folks. There is no need to make this personal.

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