Although it hasn’t been much of a hot topic as of late, it wasn’t that long ago that headlines and gruesome images emanating from “puppy mill” conditions were flooding the airwaves. Situations where multiple cages were stacked on top of one another, females confined to do nothing more than reproduce, these disgusting environments were deplorable at best.
It just doesn’t make sense that while over two million puppies are being sold through these breeders, an estimated three million dogs are being euthanized in shelters around our country.
I have been an animal lover for as long as I can remember, I even wanted to be a veterinarian as a child. But as I continued to age, I came to the important realization that if I were to enter into this rewarding career, I’d also have to “put them down” occasionally and I just wasn’t sure if I could deal with that. Instead, I’ve just grown to be a loving pet owner throughout my entire lifetime, but I’ve never actually purchased one, except from a shelter or rescue group.
Current Canine & Furry Friend
For example, today I’m the proud owner of an indoor dog and an outdoor cat, both came to me without cost and I didn’t go looking for them either, they found me instead. The little black dog, a purebred Cairn Terrier named Kady (like Toto from The Wizard of Oz), came to me from an older couple who couldn’t care for her anymore.
Our outside kitty, “screaming Mimi,” showed up on our doorstep one day crying for food and she’s been with us for over four years now. She was completely feral when she first showed up, but after some love, attention and especially regular feedings, she comes in every night for some much-needed affection.
In The Market
In my case with the little Kady canine, I wasn’t looking for a purebred dog, but I got one nonetheless. As a matter of fact, she’s the third terrier I’ve had in my lifetime, and they make great pets. There are breed-specific characteristics that some animals exhibit and shelters and rescues will give you a general idea of where an animal’s lineage lies.
For example, our neighbors recently got a cute, little German Shepherd puppy as a family pet from our local animal shelter. They were specifically looking for this type of breed for their young children to play with and some of the characteristics that these dogs are commonly known for include the fact that they’re:
- Highly intelligent
- Very affectionate
- Are very playful
- Mostly child and cat friendly
- Low maintenance when it comes to grooming needs
- Adaptable to new environments
On the downside, this breed is also known to be extremely energetic, therefore they need a tremendous amount of exercise and training so they won’t become aggressive. They’re also predisposed for some health issues, like dysplasia in their hips, usually occurring later in life.
Charley From Childhood
When I was a child, our first dog was a German Shepherd named “Charley,” and he was absolutely wonderful. He let me use him as a blanket and pillow when I was an infant. Later on during my toddler stage, he’d give me rides on his back like he was my own, personal pony. I’ll never forget that dog and told our neighbors the same story as I’m sure their little boy “Thor” will grow up to be their daughter’s best friend for life.
It just doesn’t seem rational to seek out a breeder to make a pet purchase when there’s literally millions of them that desperately need a forever home. While shelters will identify a breed to the best of their ability, there’s also rescues that specialize in certain breeds if that’s what you’re looking for in a pet. Rather than supporting this breeding practice, save a life instead.
Amber Kingsley is a freelance writer whom has donated countless hours supporting her local shelters. With writing, she has spent most of her research on animals with regards to food, health and training.