Whether you want a dog, a cat, a guinea pig or a donkey, there are ways to go about acquiring a pet that may be a bad idea. By carefully evaluating where you plan to get your pet from, you can ensure you get your new pet ethically and don’t contribute to ongoing poor situations wherein animals are mistreated.
Pet shops are most people’s first idea when it comes to places to get animals from. However, be very careful. If your pet shop advertises pets to be adopted from a nearby shelter or rescue, that is an admirable idea. But if they simply sell on pets you’re almost certainly looking at mill-bred pets.
Pet mills are places where female animals are forced to breed over and over, kept in cages too small for them, never let out, and generally neglected and subjected to incredible cruelty. Even when rescued a lot of mill animals have tremendous trouble adjusting to normal life as they are unused to being outside of their cages, and breeding mills should be shut down wherever possible.
Many people get the idea that, by buying such an animal, they are saving it from a poor situation. However, paying for such a pet perpetuates the abuse as the money you pay for them goes straight to the mill breeders and the demand, increased by your purchase, will keep them going.
Pet overpopulation is a very real problem at this time. Rescues and shelters are full to bursting with animals no one wants, and in many cases these animals are perfectly acceptable pets that have been abandoned for no good reason – or because the original owner ended up in a situation preventing them from keeping the pets such as illness.
You do pay for a rescue or shelter pet. Adoption fees vary, but generally speaking this will get you far more than you pay for. The adoption fee is often lower than the price of spaying or neutering, and yet the animal you adopt will usually already be altered. If this has not been done due to the animal’s age, the shelter will often issue a voucher for the procedure that can be redeemed with your local vet. They will also be up to date on their vaccinations, which is another expense you don’t have to worry about. Additionally, your rehoming fee will go straight back to the shelter to help provide the necessary food, shelter, and veterinary care to the other animals. Shelters and rescues can provide this service due to discounts from their local veterinarians, but often they run on a shoestring budget, so a donation may be welcome if you can afford it.
Finally, the reputable breeder is an option. Whether you’re going for dogs, cats or rats, reputable breeders can be found, but you need to do some research. Generally speaking, a reputable breeder will be keeping his or her animals as pets, treating them as part of the family and not as a source of income. In fact, despite the price of properly bred animals, most reputable breeders make a loss on their breeding enterprise as they have to pay for a lot of vet care as well as ongoing costs such as feeding and grooming. There will also be tests, the results of which a good breeder will be able to show you. These tests will be for genetic diseases specific breeds are prone to and hip scores which will show how likely a particular animal is to develop hip dysplasia, a common affliction for some breeds. The breeder will then breed only animals who score ideally on these tests, ensuring the greatest likelihood of the offspring being healthy.
Which tests you can expect to be done depends on the animal in question and then often on the breed, so do a lot of research on the breed you’re looking at so that you know what to ask for.
Looking for the perfect pet for your family is a process that should take a little bit of time. Of course, you may feel you want a new pet right now, but by spending the extra time looking to ensure you acquire your new family member in an ethical way, you can make sure your pet is healthier and happier, and you can be sure you’ll be able to sleep at night.