Shop vs adopt: What to know when you chose to get a pet

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U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) National Detector Dog Training Center (NDDTC) Training Specialist Monica Errico and Detector Dog Trainee Phillip demonstrating protocol training in Newnan, Georgia on April 4, 2019.

If you are looking to add a new member to your family, you should know where to look. So many people are not aware of the dangers of finding a new pet or what to look out for, and may make bad decisions without purpose or even realizing it. 

So, what should you look out for? Puppy mills and cat mills! These are defined as illegal businesses that breed cats or dogs and raise them in an unhealthy environment to be sold when they are older. They are operated by the owners to make a profit, often with little to no care for the animals themselves. The pets live in small cages with no time outside of them, and their needs are oftentimes neglected. Many pets who come from mills lack good health. This is because of poor sanitation and overbreeding, and also insufficient veterinary care. Families who expect a happy and loving pet may end up with a sick pet who’s health issues could have been avoided, creating expense and emotional difficulty for them. 

The parent cats and dogs are treated like breeding machines. According to the Humane Society, once the parents are no longer able to breed, they are put down or abandoned. They live a harsh and unenjoyable life. Lots of animals in these mills, including puppies and kittens, are exposed to abuse or poor treatment and do not develop their social skills the way that they are supposed to. They do not receive proper training skills, like potty training and how to act around people, either. Every time these mills make a sale, they gain profit that helps them to put more animals through these horrible systems. Do not be fooled; you may think you are saving an animal from a puppy mill by buying it, but you are only hurting more animals by supporting the business. But how do you know if you are buying from a puppy or cat mill? Usually, the owner will not allow you to see where the baby has been raised, or show you the mother. Lots of stores that sell animals buy them from mills, and online sales are often from mills as well. They are also sold at flea markets.

What is the better option? Adopt! When you adopt an animal, you take one small action to make the world a better place. You save the life of an animal that could have been euthanized, especially if the animal is older. Adopting an older animal gives them a chance at life and happiness. When adopting, rather than supporting a cruel puppy mill, you help the animal shelter to improve and rescue more animals. It also opens a spot for the next animal to come in. Shelters help animals out of cruelty or unsafe circumstances. Adoptable pets are up to date on their vaccinations and vet care, and they often have already been potty trained and socialized a bit. This means that you will not have to pay so much money! These pets are not in as high of a demand either because most are mixed breeds. However, if your heart is set on finding a purebred and you cannot find one that is adoptable, be sure that the breeder you buy from is responsible. Make sure they treat their animals with respect, allowing them sufficient space and keeping them as healthy as possible.

More people should be aware of the harm caused by pet mills. We should all know what we can do to stop them and our other options.