9 Reasons You Should Never Buy an Animal from a Pet Store

-When my husband and I were about to move to our new place, I told him I’d like to get a cat, so we planned to adopt one. We didn’t get that far, however, because as soon as the landlady unlocked the front door to let us in to our new place, a skinny little black cat scurried in and made herself at home. She’s been with us ever since.

Speaking of black cats, there still prevails a superstitious bias against dark-colored animals and they are often passed over for adoption at animal shelters. Unless you have all-white furniture and the dark shedding fur would cause you major grief, consider bringing a black dog or cat home with you.

There are some other important and compassionate reasons to consider adopting a pet over buying from a store.

Puppy mills. Most pet stores get their puppies from factory-style breeding facilities called puppy mills. Puppy mills are high-volume breeding facilities where many dogs are kept in squalid, caged conditions until they’re ready to sell. They often have health and socialization problems.

Save a life, make a friend for life. It’s sad but true – space is limited in animal shelters and if that sweet little creature doesn’t get adopted within a certain amount of time, it will have to be euthanized. There are some no-kill shelters, but they are in the minority.

Save money. It costs much less to adopt from a shelter than to buy from a pet store. What you pay to the shelter generally includes vaccination, de-worming and spay/neuter services. You’ll also get some guidance and advice for the care of your new pet!

AKC papers don’t guarantee health. Purebred papers from the American Kennel Club guarantee only the purity the breed – nothing more. Even if a puppy is purebred, it might have hereditary health problems. If you are looking for an AKC-certified pet, look beyond the anonymity of the pet store or the internet and visit a reputable breeder in person to find out more about the puppy’s parentage and living conditions. These days there are rescue organizations for nearly every breed, so it’s not necessary to adopt a mutt if you want to rescue an animal.

You can find purebreds at a shelter. If you’ve got your heart set on a particular breed, give animal shelters a chance; purebreds show up there all the time.

Good karma. Many years ago, our family cat went missing and although my mom scoured the local shelters for him, he was never found. In the meantime, however, she came across a scrawny little ball of fluff that caught her eye and tugged at her heart. She brought him home, took care of him, and now he’s the biggest, fluffiest Maine Coon you’ll ever see. He and my mom are inseparable. She saved his life and he’ll never forget it.

Socialization. A pet store animal has probably never been in a house before, whereas a shelter animal most likely has. Most shelters screen for good behavior and temperament and will be honest with you about the animal’s personality and needs, whereas a pet store only wants to make a profit. Most shelter animals have been left behind because of a cross-country move, a new baby, or expense. These animals have likely been housebroken and know how to manage their way in the world of humans. They’ll certainly be happy to have a new home.

Don’t support animal over-population. There are already so many domestic animals in this world that need a home. Pet shops and puppy mills support over-breeding of these animals for profit. It’s estimated that 6 to 8 million pets are euthanized every year! Rescue a spayed or neutered pet instead and give it the loving home it deserves.

Shelters offer a huge selection of animals. Many shelters rescue more than just dogs or cats. Birds, horses, guinea pigs, hamsters, reptiles, farm animals and all kinds of other critters may be your ideal companion, too.

Image: Conway L.