Searching for a Purebred Dog? Try a Rescue First.

If you talk to any dog lover, chances are they will be able to tell your their favorite breed of dog. Even if they don’t have one themselves, most people have a certain kind of dog that they think is the most attractive or most desirable, for any number of reasons. Be it a Husky, a German Shepherd, a Chihuahua, a Pug, or an Australian Shepherd, there are hundreds of various dog breeds and each one has a different temperament.

Some people are extremely particular about the breed of dog that they want for a companion animal and many of those people turn to breeders to fill their need. The truth is, though, if you are searching for a purebred dog, a great place to start is your local rescue organization.

Rescue a Purebred

You may be surprised to hear me say that. A rescue organization? Don’t they typically adopt out pound dogs and mutts? Well, yes. But if you think about it, a dog who ends up at the pound had to start somewhere. As nice as it would be if things were this way, not all dog owners are responsible, whether they have a shelter dog or a purebred dog. All dogs are vulnerable to being taken to the pound and the chances that you can find a purebred dog at the shelter are actually much higher than you might think.

According to the Humane Society, approximately 25% of dogs in shelters are purebred dogs. Compound that fact with the fact that many rescue organizations focus on rescuing a specific breed of dog and the chances of you finding the specific breed you are looking for without going to a breeder or a pet shop go up drastically.

More and more dog rescue organizations are being started and many are breed-specific rescues, meaning they only take in a certain breed of dog. Border Collie rescues, Rat Terrier rescues, Husky rescues, they all exist. It’s just a matter of locating them. If you live in a big city or a highly populated state, it will likely be fairly easy to find the type of dog you are looking for in a rescue. All it takes is a little online research and some scouting around and you might find exactly the dog you envisioned.

Purebreds and Health

There’s no guarantee the dog you find will be 100% purebred. If the dog purebred dogis adoptable from a rescue organization, the likelihood of having accompanying bloodline paperwork and information is quite low (but not nonexistent!). This is when the factor of health comes into play. Many purebred dogs have serious health problems, either as a result of breed genetics or repeated inbreeding. Purebred dogs with a strict lineage may have just the look you want, but the health aspect can often be devastating to both the pet and your wallet.

Larger dogs are more prone to hip and leg problems, pugs are prone to breathing and hip problems, and other breeds are prone to brain, spine, or heart conditions. According to Scientific American, “half of all Cavalier King Charles spaniels will develop mitral valve disease, a serious heart condition that leaves the dogs susceptible to premature death. By the same age, up to 70 percent will suffer from canine syringomyelia, a debilitating neurological disorder in which the brain is too large for the skull, causing severe pain in the neck and shoulders, along with damage to parts of the dog’s spinal cord.” These spaniels aren’t alone in their health woes.

Cost of Buying a Purebred

Many purebred dogs will experience similar health problems as they age, putting them at risk of dying much younger than their mixed-breed counterparts. So unless you are adopting a dog to be a show dog or a breeding dog, 100% breed purity shouldn’t be a concern. In fact, adopting a dog who has a little bit of mixed blood might actually be a better idea. Veterinary costs for these types of conditions can be astronomical, often up in the thousands of dollars. If the dog has frequent problems, those bills can add up quickly.

Besides the health problems of truly purebred dogs, buying one from a breeder or a pet store is also much more expensive than adopting one from a rescue. Buying from a breeder or pet store can cost thousands of dollars, and you often don’t get the same benefits that you will from adopting from a rescue. Nearly all rescue organizations require that their dogs be spayed/neutered and fully vaccinated before being adopted out, which means tied into the few hundred dollars you pay is the cost of expensive health bills that you no longer have to worry about. With dogs from pet stores or breeders, that is often not the case. You are typically responsible for vaccinations and spay/neuter surgery on your own.

It’s understandable that people want certain kinds of dogs. Personalities, looks, and skills are often dependent upon the breed, but before you race off to spend thousands of dollars on a purebred dog, look around at your local shelter and rescue organizations first. You might just be surprised at what you find.

Why Pet Store Puppies Aren’t a Good Choice

When you walk into certain pet stores, you may see a sight that looks something like this: glass enclosures lined along the wall that contain tiny purebred puppies.

Pet Store Puppies

Each puppy has a piece of paper on the wall of the enclosure listing its basic information, including its breed, price, and a promise of a bloodline certificate that verifies the breed purity.

Chihuahuas, Western Highland Terriers, Bulldogs, Poodles, and other purebred puppies are just some of the ones you might see in pet store cases. Though it may be tempting to purchase one of these puppies, chances are by doing so, you are supporting a cruel system of animal neglect and abuse. Most puppies sold in pet stores come from puppy mills.

What are Puppy Mills?

Puppy mills are large scale dog breeding operations that focus on the profit being produced rather than the health and well being of the dogs being bred. Puppy mill puppies are often kept in small wire cages without food or water, unsanitary conditions, and often inadequate veterinary care.

Besides the neglect and abuse that puppy mill puppies endure, health problems are also common in these dogs. Because of the horrendous conditions they are kept in, issues like matting, sores, mange, dental problems, and other negative health impacts are widespread among puppy mill puppies.

The cages the animals live in are often outdoors, which means they are exposed to nature’s elements, too, leaving them more vulnerable to developing an illness. Though pet stores will often promise a certificate of good health, the certificate usually just refers to the vaccines the puppy has received, not the actual current state of health of the animal.

The ASPCA has launched a campaign against pet store puppies to help raise awareness about the plight that puppy mill puppies and breeding dogs must endure. Another article in Forbes focuses on the problems with puppy mills and the truth about the industry, which is typically hidden from the buyer.

Finding the Perfect Dog

If you are looking for a specific breed of dog, try searching for a breed-specific rescue near you. There are plenty of these kinds of organizations that exist, whether they are golden retriever rescues, border collie rescues, or chihuahua rescues, there is almost always a rescue that focuses on the breed you are interested in. Adopting from a rescue organization is much better than buying from a pet store because rather than support the puppy mill industry, you are helping the rescue save more lives at your local shelter.

If breed doesn’t matter to you, stopping by your local animal shelter is a great option. By adopting from a shelter, you are also helping save lives by making more room for other dogs who need homes. Mixed breed dogs are also less likely to have severe health problems than purebred dogs like pugs who have breathing and hip problems and large breed dogs that often have hip or joint problems. That means you may be saving yourself money on vet bills in the future by opting for a mixed breed, or mutt.

Next time you walk past a pet store, you may be wondering just how much is the puppy in the window. If you are concerned about the health, living conditions, and treatment of that animal and all others included in the puppy mill industry, though, it’s best to just keep walking.

The Benefits of Fostering a Pet

The benefits of having a pet are immeasurable: companionship, feeling of safety, reduced risk of depression, reduced risk of heart disease, and oftentimes, a great source of amusement. Not every one is in the position to adopt a pet, though.

Whether you are on a strict budget, you travel frequently, or you just don’t know what kind of pet you want, taking the step of adoption is a commitment that isn’t right for every one. Fortunately, fostering a pet provides all the benefits of having a pet without the long time commitment of adoption.

Why Fostering Helps

Statistics from the Humane Society estimate that approximately fostering a pet2.7 million healthy, adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized in animal shelters each year across the United States. A number of factors contribute to this number, but a main one is a failure to spay and neuter these animals.

Too many strays are still intact and continue to breed even though there is not enough food, shelter, and space to house them all. Sadly, many of them die every year because of the lack of space. There is a way to help address this issue, though, and animal rescues across the country are constantly doing so by helping promote spay and neuter programs and rescuing homeless animals. Fostering pets saves lives and provides both the human and the pet with benefits they wouldn’t be able to attain without fostering.

Fostering essentially means you are taking care of an animal for a temporary period of time. Usually, an animal remains in the same foster home until he or she is adopted, but it can vary depending on the situation. Many rescue organizations rely on foster homes to help continue their work of saving animals.

What do Fosters Do?

Pet foster parents take care of the dog, cat, or whatever animal it may be once it has been rescued from the shelter. This way, the animal can be socialized before it gets adopted, which increases the chances of a successful adoption and makes for a happier pet, too.

Fostering provides that animal the chance to learn housebreaking, crate training, basic manners and obedience, and even tricks before it goes into its adoptive home. It also provides a safe space and environment for the animal, so he or she feels comfortable and is able to experience the good life out of the shelter.

For foster parents, the situation is often a win-win. Adopting an animal can be expensive, but fostering, especially if you work with a local rescue organization, is typically free or costs very little. The rescue organization usually covers all the veterinary and food costs, leaving the foster parent to buy any toys if they want. So, the foster parent gets all the benefits of living with an animal without having to handle the financial expenses. For some people, especially college students and younger people, this can provide the perfect situation. You still need time to devote to the foster animal, but there is little to no financial burden.

Saving Lives

Besides the benefits that the human and pet reap from the foster situation, rescuing that animal from the shelter also makes room for a new animal to be taken in by animal control. That means every animal that is living in a foster home equates to another life saved in the shelter.

If you are able, consider fostering with a local rescue organization in your area. Fostering pets provides a wonderful opportunity to help not only enrich your life with various pets whenever you have the time, but the opportunity to save the lives of more innocent animals, too.