Great! You’ve decided to add to your family. Instead of diapers and midnight feeding, you’ve committed to house training and fur in your food. But where do you get your new pet from? 

You start by asking around, some of your friends passionately cheer, “Rescue! Rescue!” But this might not be for everyone. Rescuing can be personally rewarding, and has so much public support, it has taken social media by storm, making any other choice seem wrong. Almost like a sports car, rescue dogs are the new status symbol! Still, dogs and cats in shelters have the real risk of unknown factors that no one can deny. What about imprinting from birth? What about genetic disease? What about aggression or behavioural issues? 

So you ask trainers and veterinarians. You may hear them say, “Only buy from an ethical breeder!” This seems to make sense. Everyone loves a puppy. Everyone hates a puppy mill! But how do you know you aren’t being duped by a clever mill, with a pretty website, and a clean family home to visit? 

You decide to take your search online. You find an ad that reads, “My dog surprised us and had puppies!” But for some reason, you hesitate.

There really is no such thing as “accidental puppies” in developed countries, with many ways to prevent or correct this, least of all, a Pan B Shot for female dogs. Upon further investigation, you find out that these “accidental” litters happen quite often. If you purchase one of these animals, the breeding will continue, again and again. 

Another advertiser writes, “Purebred dog I can’t keep anymore” and you wonder if that might just be the answer. 

But you soon realize that all purebred dogs have breeders. Good quality breeder always care enough about their pups to care about their needs, so they shouldn’t need re-homing by private families. After more research, you find that the advertised “purebred” dog has no registration papers, and a breeder who doesn’t care if he is sold, and sold again, to anyone! That doesn’t sound good! Who is holding that breeder accountable? 

The obvious choice then must be a rescue, right? But wait! Just now someone new advises you that not all rescues/shelters are equal. Some have “accidental litters” advertised, multiple animals available, and poor living conditions for those they care for! Yes, these animals need rescuing too, but not by you. If you pay money for one of these animals, the breeding and hoarding will only continue and worsen! 

With so much confusion, it is no wonder so many families have difficulties finding the perfect pet for their home and lifestyle. Size, temperament, trainability, grooming requirements, expense, and genetic health are all serious considerations when looking for a new pet. 

You didn’t marry the first person you met, right? Surely, you tested many different cars before you made a commitment to a lease or purchase. And no one buys every garment they’ve tried on while shopping! It is just as important to take TIME TO PICK your next family companion. 

Research sources (breeders or rescues). Ask about health warranties (the longer, the better!) Check around for veterinarian references. Look for a source who is just as skeptical about you as you (should be) are of them! If you find pets for sale from a establishment (or private family) who is happy for you to come, pay, and leave in a day, DON’T GIVE THEM YOUR MONEY! Run away! Ethical sources want to make sure that you know what you are getting into, you are prepared, and you are taking home a pet that will suit your lifestyle. 

If you decide to buy an imprinted, genetically sound, and warrantied pet from a breeder, there should be no shame in it! Remind the Nay-Sayers that your choice to support ethical breeding is just as good as adopting a rescue animal. 

…..Wait. What? 

Yes! If you purchase an animal from an ethical breeder, you are saving shelter animals in two ways! First, you are financially supporting an ethical breeder. This breeder will continue to breed, and the competition (read: puppy mills) in their area will not make the same sale. Puppy mills are in it for the money. So if they can’t sell their puppies, they will stop breeding! Secondly, ethical breeders will have a return policy for all of their animals. This means that the animals they produce should never end up in shelters or rescues, because the breeder will EVEN PAY to have them returned to themselves! 

If you choose to rescue, and someone rolls their eyes at your decision to, “take on their terrible behaviour.” Remind them that you can teach an old dog new tricks! Even those tortured souls can be rehabilitated, even if some of the behaviour sticks, it will get better. Adjustments can be made in your home and lifestyles, allowing for happy endings to come for those who need it most. 

The important thing is to slow down, and take your time. Budget both time and money to invest in your next pet. Trust me, it is worth it! 

And in the meantime, if you just can’t stand going another day without fur in your food, try offering to pet-sit for other families, or fostering for your local rescue! 


Sleep deep, drink well, snuggle often … I try to be the person my dog thinks I am…