Adopt, Don’t Shop: Why it Matters Where You Get Your Next Dog and How You Can Make a Difference

Adopt Dont Shop
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We hear the slogan “Adopt, Don’t Shop” all the time, but we often aren’t told why it matters. The truth is every dog, regardless of where they are from, deserves a loving home with their emotional and physical needs met. However, it’s the unfortunate reality that there are too many dogs worldwide that are stuck in unlucky circumstances— from the ones left caged in underfunded shelters, the lost strays starving in the streets of underdeveloped nations, and the worst of all, the dogs being kidnapped and sold for slaughter in black-market meat factories in China and Vietnam. 

When we hear these stories or watch videos of these dogs suffering, any dog lover’s heart will break. But it’s what we do with that pain that will determine the future. As of today, only 40% of dogs are adopted from shelters, despite the fact that 390,000 dogs are euthanized annually. When you adopt, you’re giving a second chance to a deserving dog that might otherwise face uncertain futures. These dogs have unique stories and personalities, and by opening your heart and home to them, you become a part of their journey toward a better life.

In order to understand the power of adoption, we have to first grasp the real-world consequences of what irresponsible pet ownership has led to. 

The Tragedy of Overpopulated Shelters

The alarming overpopulation of animal shelters is not just a statistic—it’s a dire situation that has life-or-death implications for countless dogs. Shelters, despite their best efforts, can only accommodate a limited number of animals. When these spaces are filled to capacity, the tragic scenario of having to make life-ending decisions becomes unavoidable. The reality is that the resources, both in terms of space and funding, are insufficient to provide every dog with a chance at a loving home.

Euthanasia, a word that carries heavy emotional weight, is a painful reality that shelters face when their capacities are overwhelmed. The decision to euthanize is not taken lightly; it’s a choice borne out of necessity to allocate limited resources to animals with a higher chance of adoption or medical success. Dogs that are older, have medical issues, or exhibit challenging behaviors often find themselves at the mercy of this heart-wrenching decision.

Overpopulation is a crisis that stretches the resources of shelters and the hearts of those who tirelessly work to care for and rehome these dogs. Yet, it’s a crisis that can be mitigated through responsible adoption.

The Menace of Puppy Mills

Puppy mills are a stark contrast to the heartwarming scenes we often associate with puppies. These facilities prioritize profit over the well-being of animals, subjecting them to inhumane conditions and neglect. The innocent lives that start in these mills are often characterized by cramped cages, unsanitary surroundings, and a lack of medical care. The result? Puppies with physical and behavioral issues that can burden their future families emotionally and financially.

Puppy mills thrive on the deceptive allure of adorable puppies displayed in pet store windows or online ads. These establishments exploit the innocence of these creatures, disregarding the welfare of both the animals and those who will care for them. When someone unknowingly purchases a puppy from a mill, they inadvertently perpetuate a cycle of cruelty and suffering. Every dollar spent on these puppies fuels the demand for more breeding, perpetuating a vicious cycle of neglect and profit.

As puppy mills churn out dogs for profit, the shelters and rescues are inundated with dogs desperately seeking homes. Adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue is not just an act of kindness; it’s a powerful statement against the cruelty of this racket. 

The Harsh Truth of Unethical Breeding 

Unethical breeding casts a dark shadow over the world of pet companionship, one that demands our attention and action. Purely driven by profit, this practice overlooks the fundamental welfare of animals. Breeding entirely for appearance, such as creating trendy “designer” breeds, disregards health, temperament, and genetic diversity. This practice perpetuates a cycle of suffering, with animals paying the price for our desires. 

Poor breeding practices lead to a host of health problems— from genetic disorders, chronic conditions, and shortened lifespans. This not only inflicts suffering upon innocent creatures but also places a heavy emotional and financial burden on unsuspecting pet owners.

Of course, not all breeders partake in unethical practices. Animals in ethical breeding programs are treated as cherished companions, living in clean and comfortable environments. Their physical and emotional needs are catered to, promoting positive behaviors and socialization. They limit the number of litters produced to ensure each puppy receives adequate care, attention, and love. They welcome questions, provide health records, and offer references to potential buyers. 

In the realm of pet breeding, there exists a wide spectrum of practices and the distinction between ethical breeders and unethical breeders is vast. 

Adopt, Don’t Shop

How You Can Be a Part of the Change 

If you’re deciding to add a new four-legged member to your family, adopting allows you to take a stand against cruelty and exploitation, while helping to alleviate the strain on shelters. If you’re not ready to adopt but still want to support the cause, you can do so while gifting a cute, cuddly reminder to your child about the importance of adoption. A philanthropic toy company based out of Santa Barbara, The Elephant Project, donates all the proceeds of their sales to organizations dedicated to animal rescue efforts. Their latest release is Lulu, an 8″ stuffed dog doll made out of soft brown fabric with the message “Adopt, Don’t Shop” written on her hangtag. The Elephant Project will give 100% of net proceeds to organizations that help save dogs from abuse and neglect in the United States and abroad. One of the organizations they will be pledging to is Harbin SHS Animal Rescue, an organization that rescues and rehabilitates dogs from the illegal dog meat industry in China. 

You can support the company’s efforts by purchasing Lulu or any of the other available plush toys by visiting

Written by Kristina McKean

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