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October 11, 2010



How many animals enter shelters each year? I thought 3-4 million were euthanized each if 22 million homes will be looking for a pet next year, and the majority say their next pet will be is it that shelters must still kill animals. It sounds as if more than enough homes are available, and that most looking for a pet are looking to rescue.

PetDocsOnCall09 Brent has pointed out in the past, shelters need to step up and offer a more "customer friendly" atmosphere to help entice people to come adopt. I know from my own experience while working at a rural shelter that making changes to include later hours or holding adoptions at better locations is not always received well by the powers that manage the shelter.

This further proves the point that "pet overpopulation" and the number of animals that are in our shelter system can be reduced and we can reach a no kill state. One has only to look at the number of shelter pets that are transported to different states to see that the demand for these wonderful animals is there.

It also shows, despite the way some organizations and individuals think, the solution to pet overpopulation is not rooted solely in stopping puppy mills or preventing pet stores from selling dogs and cats or even in making all pet owners spay and neuter...The solution needs to be a balanced approach in which breeders, pet stores, shelters, rescues, humane organizations, veterinarians, and pet loving individuals come together and help find the "homeless" pets their forever home.


Verjean, I think that's what the No Kill movement is saying. There is no "must" in killing animals. The city shelter where I live is loud, "dark," generally depressing and not easily accessible. Even the best shelters have a certain air of sadness them that some good intentioned people are turned off by.

Rescues are also sometimes a turn off for potential adopters who are deemed "unworthy" because they have small chidren, don't have a fence, are a dual income family that will leave the pet home alone during the day, and so on.

Many people who may INTEND to rescue/adopt can be pushed away by the very system that is trying to save the animals by finding people to adopt them.

Then there are people like my coworker who are more than willing to adopt a dog, but it must be a specific type of dog (or specific age of dog). MANY of the dogs at my local shelter do not fit the specifications. Yes, in many cases a person who is patient could eventually find the dog that fits their criteria through a shelter/rescue, but I've known several people who have chosen to buy because it meant getting exactly what they wanted, often sooner than a shelter/rescue was able to come up with the desired animal.

Even so, it would seem that we should be able to get 20% of the would-be pet seekers matched up with a shelter/rescue pet so that shelter can stop killing healthy (& treatable) animals.


In southern MO there is a rescue that sends around 20 dogs via transport by volunteers up to MN/WI rescues practically every other weekend (and I know there are others doing the same in OK etc)! They have more low cost spay/neuter practices up north and are not overrun with puppy mills/breeders, so they are able to take in dogs from shelters where they would otherwise be euthanized. Social networking sites have been a big help in getting animals loving homes no matter the location; there are several options for transporting when you find the critter you want to adopt is in a completely different state!


Only 8% of the resondents may say they intend to get their next pet from a pet store, but if they want a Toy breed or a particular small breed they probably won't have many other options. Toys and small dogs seem to be what the public wants. Small breeds made the largest percentage gains in AKC registrations between 1995 and 2005 and there's no reason to believe that's changed based on the AKC's annual "top ten" list. If I remember correctly the Yorkshire Terrier was number 2 for 2009.

When I was a kid we had large families living in small houses with big dogs. Now there are people living in McMansions with one kid and a Chihuahua, LOL.

Toy rescues charge a lot of money for adult dogs. Some friends of mine that have titled multiple dogs applied for a Papillon with a local rescue (their daughter wanted a Papillon). The dog cost $350 and the application was 24 pages long.

That said, I absolutely agree - shelters need to clean up their act and be more accessible to the public. I've had some great rescue and shelter dogs. I had a shelter dog that turned out to be a phenomenal worker but had to stay at our house due to an incorrect, timid temperament.

We've had dogs from breeders and we've had rescues and loved them all the same. We just lost a rescue that meant the world to us.

I fall into the "not likely at all" to get my next pet from a pet store but it has more to do with the breeds I choose to own rather than any particular feelings about pet stores.

Good blog, Brent! Very interesting.

Dianne in DC

My next cat (my Smudge died in his sleep while I was at the No Kill conference!) will come from Bengal Rescue Network. Is that a breeder or a rescue? Sometimes it is both. Please keep the Vitales in your thoughts, they have had panleukeupenia sweep through their home and kill 3 cats last week.

Jill Lane

This is a very interesting subject. Since Travelin' Jack and I have been on the CANINE CAMPAIGN trail (see if you are not aware of his platforms) we have found it quite inspiring to meet the many people who have come to see us with their pets...all sizes, shapes, breeds etc...and SO many of them tell us they got them from a shelter.

Since we are promoting Shelter Adoptions as Jack's #1 platform....this is great to hear. What I have also learned over the course of the past two years is how easy it is to get your "breed of choice" at a shelter. It may require some research..and even some travel, but if you are hooked on a breed, I guarantee you will be able to adopt your special breed at some organization somewhere...and save that pet's life.

There are so many sad stories out there of how pure breeds end up at shelters....economic issues, owner death/divorce/new babies/ relocation and on and on and on.

This is a true reward for all parties when a pet and a person find each other.

Oh, and Travelin' Jack is a Rescue.....Olde English Bulldogge...and he is my #1 Love!


KMK, if someone wants a toy breed dog and can't find it through a shelter, pet shops are not the only option unless they are lacking in knowledge or lacking in the patience for something other than instant gratification.

A 24-page application is completely unreasonable--but that's one rescue, not every rescue. There are many rescues, each with their own policies. A $350 adoption fee? Sorry, but my local shelter charges that for a small adult dog. The rescue I'm active with charges $250 for a spayed/neutered, UTD on shots, house-trained dog of any age or size. Granted we have more pit bulls and pit mixes, and Labs and Lab mixes, than toy breeds passing through our foster homes, but we DO get small dogs.

And then there's the option of the responsible breeder. A toy breed puppy from a responsible breeder is going to cost more than adopting from a shelter or rescue, true, but it's also going to cost a lot less than buying a puppy in a pet store. While you will have to have more patience than in an instant-gratification pet store purchase, you'll also be able to meet at least the mother and possibly the father of your puppy, seen the conditions in which your puppy was bred and raised, see the documentation of what health testing was done on your puppy's parents and grandparents--and have someone to call when you're tearing your hair out because Puppy is going through teething or has hit adolescence.

Or you can adopt a returned or retired adult from a responsible breeder, for about what you can adopt from a rescue for.

A good rescue won't be able to give you all the background on a dog that a good breeder can, but otherwise you get most of the same benefits: A dog who has spent time in a normal home learning how to behave, a knowledgable assessment of the dog's personality, strengths and weaknesses, and what household is right for the dog, as well as someone to call when you and your dog are having adjustment problems. You're also saving a life because every animal adopted means one more animal the rescue can pull from a kill shelter or take directly from the surrendering owner to prevent it going to a kill shelter.

More and more people are learning about the benefits of rescues and of responsible breeders. NO ONE "has to" buy from a pet store, although some people don't know that and some people know but don't have the patience to bother.

Mary Jane

I'd like to know if the "no responsible breeder would sell their dogs at a pet store" is true? While it may be, a lot of what is said by the puppy mill crusaders isn't or at the very least is overblown.



I do agree with you, there is no reason someone would have to buy a pet from a pet store. That said, according to the Petsmart research, the primary reason people do is because of the convenience of being able to get the dog and everything you need for the dog all in one place. This could be something important for rescues to take note of as there may be a lot of advantages for a rescue to sell things like leashes, food bowls, pillows, kennels, food, etc for the pets people adopt. It could bring incremental revenue and adopters....

Mary Jane, I think it all depends on how people define "responsible" - -which can vary a lot. Certainly most small scale and hobby breeders would never sell through a pet store -- but certainly a lot of the large-scale breeders likely do (or through brokers who then sell to pet stoes). Some of those may be very well kept large-scale kennels, but I'd suspect that most of the people who would make that statement would not consider a large scale breeder responsible (regardless of how well the animals are kept) or call responsible someone who does not see through the final outcomes for the dogs.


Mary jane: it's a tautology. One of the usual definitions of "responsible" breeder is that they DONT sell through a pet store. So as soon as a dog is available in a pet store, the breeder is not responsible..

I've often wondered.. as shelters/rescues increase their pet "adoption" fees up into the many hundreds of dollars, when do we start calling that "selling"?

Pat F.

I've been a breeder (just one litter, though I had hoped to breed again, unforeseen circumstances intervened); and I know many responsible breeders; and none of us would ever sell one of our precious puppies to a pet store. I and other responsible breeders screen potential buyers, and often discourage or bluntly turn away some of them. The idea of handing over a litter, usually the product of years of planning and 8-10 weeks of tender care, to strangers to sell to anyone who walks in with the right price, is against everything that we strive for as breeders and guardians of whatever breed we have chosen to perpetuate.

About 20 years ago, I remember, when I owned the first dog of an uncommon breed, my and my fellow fanciers' only interaction with a pet store. Word had got out of two pups of our breed having been seen in a pet store. The breed club to which I belonged quickly voted to buy the pups and foster and rehome them. (the breeder who had sold the pups to the store was not a member of our breed club, nor did she show or health-screen the parents) They were too late to buy the male pup, but were able to buy the female pup. I remember that she was brought to a show match the club was holding; and how most of the breeder/exhibitors came over to see the puppy (small for a four-month-old, but sweet). Although she would never be a show dog, we were so glad that she would be fostered by one of us, someone who knew the breed, and would find a good home; because the puppy was one of our own...That's the type of thing a responsible breeder does, as well as take back any dog bred by them if the buyer cannot keep them. We do not ever sell puppies to pet stores, it's an obscene notion to a responsible breeder.

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