There are a couple of high profile news stories circulating at the moment around animal welfare. The first is the NSW Government’s decision to ban greyhound racing as of 1 July 2017 and the other is going on in Victoria whose government wants to ban pet shops from selling puppies and kittens unless they are from rescue agencies. Both these topics are equally as important, but it’s the latter proposal that got me in a discussion recently on the topic of acquiring pets from breeders vs rescue animals. I’ve written previously about the number of pets which are euthanased each year in Australia and so it probably comes as no surprise that I keep asking why shop when you can adopt?
There seems to be a stigma which exists in some people’s minds that every animal who finds themselves in the pound or with a rescue agency has experienced trauma, maltreatment or some other misadventure, resulting in them being undesirable pets. This unfortunately is true in some cases, but pets get surrendered to agencies for all sorts of reasons. A study done by the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP) in the US, identified the top 10 reasons people surrender their cats and dogs.
The top 10 reasons people surrender their cat:
- Too many animals in household (11%)
- Allergies in family (8%)
- Moving (8%)
- No homes available for litter mates (6%)
- Landlord not allowing pet (6%)
- Cost of pet maintenance (6%)
- House soiling (5%)
- Owner having personal problems (4%)
- Inadequate facilities (2%)
- Incompatibility with other pets (2%)
Notice anything about the list? A lot of the reasons proffered are because owners were either unequipped or ill-prepared for taking on a cat. Yes, this is a US study, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume a level of similarity between the US and Australia on this.
Once people have decided that they’re committed to acquiring a new furry friend, way too often the default position is to purchase from a breeder. I know that lots (most?) people want to get their new pet as a puppy or kitten, because let’s face it, they are just so goddam cute! We adopted Pussa and Soph when they were 1 and 2 years old respectively and often times my fellow Pet Parent and I wished we had known them when they were kittens. However, the puppy and kitten stage only lasts for a very short time and are you really going to eliminate consideration of taking on a rescue animal because they are a bit older? That’s not to say you won’t be able to get a kitten or puppy from a rescue agency. Often the Mum’s find themselves in a rescue agency when they’re pregnant (as was the case with Pussa who ended up having a litter of 3) and so the fosterer’s end up in a situation of having to find new homes for Mum plus brood.
In conversations I’ve had with people involved in rescue agencies they relate that in their experience kittens and puppies are much easier to rehome than adult cats. Maybe I felt sad for all the older cats that made me adopt adult cats on both occasions. I can say without any hesitation that both Pussa and Soph are well-adjusted, happy cats who suffer no ill-effects from their early years being in the rescue system. Of course that’s largely attributable to those good folk who were their foster carers during that time. All rescue agencies worth their salt will assess prospective adoptive parents for their suitability to take on specific animals. Courtesy of the foster carers, agencies will know the personality quirks and requirements of each animal and then match these with the circumstances, personality and experience of the hopeful parents. That means that when they do come across an animal that is traumatised it will stay in foster care until the right parents and right environment is found. I’ve no doubt that good breeders will vett purchasers before agreeing to sell any of their puppies or kittens, but I suspect less scrupulous operators are unlikely to. Having not acquired a pet through a pet shop I don’t know what their procedures are for those who wants to buy through them.
Please, the next time you or anyone you know is talking of getting a new pet, consider adopting. Adopt, don’t buy, and save the life of a beautiful animal soul who’s out there somewhere waiting for you.