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Asia, a cat up for adoption at the Animal Rescue League of NH. Courtesy photo.




Where to go to get your pet
Pet store, breeder or animal shelter?

02/26/15
By Angie Sykeny asykeny@hippopress.com



You know for sure you want to get a pet, but where do you go to get one? An animal shelter, or a pet store or breeder? There are pros and cons to each that are important to consider before you make your choice.

 
Buying from a shelter
One of the main appeals to buying a pet from a shelter is to rescue an animal without a home. Animals can end up in a shelter for a variety of reasons. 
“When you go to a shelter or rescue to add a furry family member, you are very potentially helping out [a pet] who lost its family one way or another,” said Paula Mattis, president and CEO of the Animal Rescue League of New Hampshire. “It may be that the guardian died, had to move to assisted living or had to surrender because of economic issues,  job loss, divorce, extraordinary expenses due to health issues. You might also be getting a pet who was a stray and despite reunification efforts could not be brought back together with their family.” 
Adopting a pet also means that you can find one who is a good match for you. Shelters have trained adoption counselors who know each animal’s specific needs and can match the prospective adopter with an animal that fits their lifestyle. It is also common of shelters to ask that a person bring in any pets they already have to meet the new potential “sibling” and make sure the interaction is good. 
“Someone may wish to adopt a very high-energy dog, one who needs twice daily walks/runs and lots of stimulation at home. If you are a single person who travels a lot and may only be able to commit to two or three walks a week, we would counsel you away from a dog as just described.  It isn’t that the human is bad or the dog is bad — it just isn’t a good match.”
A downside to getting a pet from a shelter, Mattis says, is the chance that the animal has a medical condition of some sort. Though shelters do extensive medical and behavioral assessment of each animal before it is made available for adoption, there is still a chance that an ailment will be unnoticeable or lay dormant.  Shelter pets may also require extra nurturing and patience as some are coming from neglectful environments. 
“For myself, the joy of helping a homeless animal has far outweighed those concerns when I have been in the process of adding a pet to my family,” said Mattis. “There is no question about it. When you choose to bring a homeless animal into your life, you are rescuing them because no matter how hard we try, a shelter is not a real home.”
 
Buying from a pet store or breeder
While most shelter animals have already reached adulthood, animals from a pet store or breeder are almost always purchased as babies. This is appealing as a baby usually has a clean bill of health and is easier to train and integrate into a household than an adult.
“I would say new pet owners and families would benefit [getting a pet] from pet shops and breeders because the [pets] have not been previously mistreated or aggressive,” said Bill Sturgeon, owner of Bill’s Pet and Aquarium in Manchester. “Not saying this is [the case with] all adoption animals but a pet ... will be easier to train instead of undoing bad habits an adult or mistreated dog may have.” 
With the advantages of buying a pet from a pet store or breeder comes a cost significantly higher than a shelter’s. Sturgeon said many of the pets at his store are $699 or more, depending on the breed. That price can also include microchipping, food, warranties, health exams and toys — additions that aren’t typically offered with shelter pets. However, most shelter pets are already neutered. A buyer buying from a pet store or breeder will need to factor in that additional cost because there are health risks involved with neutering a young pet. 
“If someone is debating, go visit the shelter and the pet shop, do your research, and ask questions,” said Sturgeon. “Adopting is great but not for everyone. Starting fresh with a [baby] is great but also not for everyone. This isn’t like picking a couch. Every animal is different, not just by breed but personality too.  Not to mention a huge, long term commitment.”
 
As seen in the February 26, 2015 issue of the Hippo.  





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