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Society's Choice: Adoption or Purchase

In: Social Issues

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Society has often viewed pets, whether it is a dog or a cat, as part of the family and they often get treated like a member of the family. Unfortunately, not all pets arrive at a family’s house under the same circumstances. Many families decide that they want to purchase their pet via a breeder because they feel like they want a purebred dog, as opposed to the dogs that are sitting in shelters for months to even years at a time. Society needs to adjust, as purebred animals will still have a high chance at being bought, but shelter animals have a chance to spend a large chunk of their lives living in hopes that someone will come by and adopt them. Society has long preferred the purchasing of purebred dogs over shelter dogs and for various reasons. The first reason is the predictability of the physical traits in a purebred dog. By breeding two of the same dogs together, it uses a very similar set of genes which means that the traits that are common amongst the parents are going to be common amongst the offspring that they give birth too. A second reason is that people will buy their purebred dogs for the intent to run the dogs through dog shows. Purebred animals are the only kind of animals allowed in dog shows, so therefore by adopting a non-purebred dog; it eliminates all possibility of entering into dog shows. A third reason is that some temperamental traits are predictable in the offspring of purebred dogs. If the parents have similar temperamental behaviors (ex. biting, skittishness), there is a statistically higher outcome that the offspring will possess similar qualities to the parent dogs that produced them.
There are some downsides to purchasing purebred dogs. The first, and most important, issue is that purebred dogs can have serious health issues. Purebred dogs are bred within the same specific set of genes, which can lead to a multitude of health problems. These health problems include crippling bone and joint disorders, eye diseases that cause reduced sight or total blindness, heart diseases that drastically shorten a dog's life, hormonal and endocrine system diseases like hypothyroidism and diabetes, seizure disorders such as epilepsy, skin diseases that cause frantic itching, digestive disorders that cause chronic diarrhea and vomiting, kidney and liver diseases, blood-clotting diseases and cancer. The second reason against purchasing of a purebred animal is that purebred animals may have “working behaviors” that you may not want to live with. For example, if you want a working dog (ex. Boxer, Siberian Husky) the dog may not want to lounge around the house all day with you, it may want to be in a constant state of wanting to do something, which you may or may not approve of depending on the activity. The third reason is that despite careful breeding, you may still wind up with a dog that possesses the exact opposite traits that you were expecting in the first place. Breeding dogs with selective traits helps to improve chances of getting desirable traits that you want, but there is always a small chance that the animal could develop a trait you weren’t expecting it to develop, possibly resulting in some issues. On the opposite end of the spectrum are adopted dogs. Adopted dogs are often combinations of various other dogs, also known as mixed breeds that wind up in shelters far more often than purebred dogs do. There are several benefits of adopting a shelter dog. The first, and most important reason is that by adopting a shelter dog, you are giving an animal a second chance to have a happy life. Animals can spend a large portion of their lives inside of shelters, some of which may eventually be put down if they are never adopted by a family that would want to love and care for them. By adopting a shelter dog, you are taking one of those dogs out of the equation. The animal being adopted can have a family that loves it and gives the dog a second chance it deserved to have a happy life. The second reason for adopting shelter dogs is that shelter dogs tend to be significantly healthier than purebred dogs. Mixed breed dogs can contain DNA from several different types of dogs which promotes genetic diversity, which allows for more variability in the dogs DNA which can allow them to have certain DNA that allows them to better fight of disease or be immune to various health problems that often plague purebred dogs. The third reason is that mixed breed dogs tend to possess more moderate temperaments. What this means is that the extreme temperaments and behavior patterns seen in purebred dogs are less common in mixed breeds. For example, if you have a mixed breed of a working dog and a different type of dog, that dog may be less likely to be as worked up as working dogs normally are, which can be better for owners that do not possess the time or energy to keep their dogs busy. The benefit of adopting a shelter dog can potentially outweigh the benefits of purchasing a purebred dog. The primary benefit for adopting a dog at the shelter as opposed to purchasing a dog from a breeder is that the shelter dog may not get a second chance at life. The dogs in shelters come in because they are either homeless by birth or surrendered by owners who cannot afford to support their animals anymore. This results in a particularly bad life for dogs as they can go from being in a loving home to being abandoned by those they felt that they could trust to take care of them. Depending on the shelter, if a dog isn’t adopted in a reasonable amount of time, they start to put down animals to make room for the new ones coming into the shelter. By adopting a dog, you are not only giving a dog a second chance in life to find a place where they will be loved and taken care of again, but they can have their life saved because someone decided they wanted to adopt rather than purchase.
Mixed breed dogs are also less likely to suffer from severe health problems when compared to their purebred counterparts. If a purebred dog is bred incorrectly, they can suffer from severe diseases as a result of inbreeding. These diseases include crippling bone and joint disorders, eye diseases that cause reduced sight or total blindness, heart diseases that drastically shorten a dog's life, hormonal and endocrine system diseases like hypothyroidism and diabetes, seizure disorders such as epilepsy, skin diseases that cause frantic itching, digestive disorders that cause chronic diarrhea and vomiting, kidney and liver diseases, blood-clotting diseases and cancer, the number one dog killer. Shelter dogs, which tend to be mostly mixed breeds do not suffer from nearly as many crippling health problems. The reason is that mixed breed dogs can contain genes and traits from various types of dogs which may be better off at fighting off or entirely preventing one of the above diseases that purebred dogs can suffer from. The major concern about animals that are stuck in shelters is that the number of animals trapped in shelters waiting for a second home is staggering. Around 7.6 million animals are currently in shelters as of recent results of data analysis, with 3.9 million of the 7.6 million being dogs and the other 3.4 million being cats. Due to these large numbers, and the limited number of space in each shelter, shelters may have to make measures to prevent severe overcrowding. This method is euthanasia of animals deemed to not be likely to get adopted, so the shelter puts down 2.7 million animals per year (1.2 million dogs and 1.4 million cats). To put that number into comparison, on average 2.7 million animals are adopted every single year, roughly meaning for that every animal adopted, one animal is put down. Despite the large number of adoptions and unfortunate animals euthanized, that still leaves a large number of animals trapped in shelters. The sad part is for those animals, they may have to wait years for someone to come along and decide to adopt them, which unfortunately may never come for some animals.
Society has been slowly reacting to this crisis and is adjusting to fix it. The general awareness presented by countless commercials and society in general have started to result in an increase in the adoption levels of shelter dogs. The amount of dogs that are getting adopted rather than purchased from a breeder has been steadily climbing ever since people started to realize that animals trapped in shelters had no voice in terms of stating that they should be adopted, so many organizations, such as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) have taken steps in the right direction in getting more and more animals off the streets and out of shelters and into families homes where they have become new additions to many peoples families, effectively giving an animal that was possibly on its last legs a second shot at life. To summarize, society has long decided that the purchasing of a purebred animal has been a favorable choice over the adoption of a mixed breed, less desirable animals. That has led to a severe overpopulation in the animal shelters of the world who may never get a second chance in life to have someone take care of them, which can result in the animals being stuck in shelters for years at a time, or even euthanized if no one comes along to adopt them in time. Fortunately, society is starting to turn around on the matter. The number of adopted animals is steadily rising in comparison to the number of purebred animals purchased which means more and more animals are getting out of shelters, but still, those trapped in shelters need a second chance, and we need to be their voice.


"Pet Statistics." ASPCA. 2015. Web. 27 May 2015.

"Top Five Reasons to Adopt : The Humane Society of the United States." RSS. Web. 27 May 2015.

Welton, Michele. "The Truth About Purebred Dogs." The Truth About Purebred Dogs. Web. 27 May 2015.

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