Wonderful Husband said “a good article gives pros and cons and then comes to a conclusion.” I tried to adhere to this plan today but I massively failed. I see no pros for buying a dog when there is the option to adopt.
I now realise that I am unable to write unbiased articles about animals as I said I would.
Every year millions of animals are abandoned. In 2015 the RSPCA rescued 118,994 animals in the UK alone. Adopting or fostering an animal is a beautiful and fulfilling way of reducing the number of animals left in shelters. I therefore find it puzzling that anyone would want to buy an animal, in particular a dog.
People generally don’t need dogs. Some may want a specific pure breed of dog and look to buy from a pet shop or breeder as there is no obvious alternative. It is absolutely understandable to have a favourite breed of dog (although I wouldn’t be able to pick a favourite!) but it is a myth that pure breeds do not end up in shelters, they just don’t stay very long. They are sought after dogs because of their appearance so it’s worthwhile to put your name down if you are looking.
By opting to buy a dog from a breeder or pet shop, buyers are inadvertently promoting the breeding industry – primarily used for making the perfect dog for the highest price. A money-making scheme developed at the cost of the animal’s health and happiness.
The Not-So-Nice Bit
Puppy mills (also known as puppy factories and puppy farms) are an unfortunate consequence of the breeding industry. The mills are a legal and cruel way of producing the largest volume of puppies for the smallest cost possible. Male pups (without any physical defects) will be taken from their mother as young as 8 weeks old (far younger than recommended) and sold. Female pups will sometimes be kept for breeding, constantly impregnated until unable to do so and then often killed as they are then worthless to the business.
Puppy mills attempt to breed the ‘perfect dog’. As a result, a puppy born with a physical defect, sometimes the result of inbreeding, will be killed. Puppy mills are about maximising profits with no regard to the health or emotion of the animal. Other harmful practices such as tail docking and ear cropping (both practices have legal restrictions in 37 countries worldwide, many making them entirely illegal) are also used in puppy mills to supply the ‘perfect dog’ for the buyer.
Puppy mills supply pet shops and puppy dealers with their animal stock. I personally try to avoid purchasing anything from a pet shop that stocks animals as the animals have normally come from a volume breeder such as a factory.
The Nicer Bit
Spain has one of the highest rates of abandoned animals in Europe (around 800,000 a year) yet it is currently experiencing a new wave of animal awareness. The animal-rights political party, PACMA, received a record number of votes in the recent 2016 general election.
In Dénia alone, there are several shelters working tirelessly to help animals:
- APAD (Asociación Protectora de Animales de Dénia) has a dog shelter on the outskirts of Dénia. Their focus is to re-home abandoned and stray dogs.
- SCAN (Society and Care for the Animals in Need) protects animals in the Costa Blanca region, taking in abandoned and stray dogs in particular, to then try and rehome.
- Denia Cat Protection Association is a cat shelter doing a great service by rehoming stray and abandoned cats whenever possible.
- Nilda Eisenheim, Dawn Hedley and a close group of kind-hearted people work independently to do many wonders for dogs in the whole of Spain (and even Europe!). Nilda scours perreras (kill stations) throughout Spain and whenever possible rescues the dogs that are about to be put down. They find foster homes for the dogs until they are adopted in Spain, Germany or the UK. Without any financial aid they have saved the lives of many dogs (including my own dog).
Wonderful husband had never grown up with dogs, so he absolutely hated the idea of having an animal in the house. I convinced him that whilst we were living in Spain, I should be allowed to foster as I won’t get the chance again when we settle somewhere, insisting that we would only have a dog 2-3 months at a time. He grudgingly agreed.
One Monday in August 2015, I received a message (from the lovely Dawn Hedley) that a dog was in the kill-station, in Cadiz, and would be put to sleep the next day if he wasn’t saved. Fortunately this did not happen and Manny was transported to us on the following Friday.
Manny is a podenco, a breed used for hunting in Spain. We thought someone would adopt Manny quite quickly (I posted lots of cute photos of him on Facebook) but nothing came along. Months went past and fortunately Manny had Wonderful Husband smitten. On the 17th Dec 2015, I got a call from Dawn to say they were moving Manny to a foster home in Germany as he would have more interested famalies there… But I am happy to say that Wonderful Husband blocked this move and insisted we adopt Manny (this is why he is so wonderful).
I don’t want to give the impression that adopting a shelter dog is easy – far from it. Adopting a shelter dog is a huge responsibility and should be carefully thought about beforehand. Shelter dogs will normally come with emotional trauma, feelings of abandonment from their past and no training. It’s hard but most definitely worth it. Even Wonderful Husband thinks so!