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Hannah Pederson, Reporter
There’s a lot to consider when looking for a pet. If a family works or is at school most of the day, they’ll need an animal who doesn’t mind being left alone and won’t urinate all over everything in despair. If a household has young children, they’ll need an animal that can be trusted to keep its cool when grubby little hands yank on its ears and chase it all around. If a family doesn’t have vast expanses for pets to run around in, they’ll need an animal that’s OK with hanging around the house.
Finding a pet that’ll fit all of one prospective owner’s unique specifications can be a challenge, but there’s one major question everyone asks before they bring someone home: adopt or shop.
Many prospective pet owners turn to breeders without considering an animal from a shelter or humane society, believing that they’re paying more for a higher quality animal who won’t pose any future problems.
But just like anything else, breeding comes with its own host of pros and cons.
When thinking about the dark side to breeding, most minds jump to puppy mills, where the value of the animal through the eyes of the breeder may solely be to crank out offspring and the well-being of the mother and puppies is ill considered.
While this is an extreme, some more reputable breeders view their animals primarily as a source of income, and in the interest of producing animals with the desired characteristics, they tend to overlook potential health concerns.
“Designer breeds emphasize good traits, but bad traits as well,” Dr. Coe Lindner of All Creatures Veterinary Clinic on South Hill said.
Dr. Lindner has been practicing for 36 years, and has had countless experiences with breeders and shelters.
“There are breeders who breed financially and there are breeders who try to improve the breed,” Dr. Linder said. “They’re doing a nice service, despite the fact that other animals aren’t being adopted.”
Metro Animal Services is right down the road from Pierce College Puyallup, and various Pierce students have volunteered there.
One such volunteer, Jennifer Rollins, is now an animal control officer at the shelter with two dogs of her own.
“If you adopt, you’re saving that animal (and) rescuing it,” Rollins said. “But from a breeder, the animal has a home no matter what. We really just want what’s best for the animal.”
In the winter, between 30 and 70 cats and dogs go through Metro, Rollins said.
If the animal has a good temperament, it’ll move to adoption with the average turnaround from entering the shelter to going to a new home being two to four weeks for dogs and one to three months for cats.
The ethics of breeding versus adopting is up to the buyer, but for those with a strict budget, there are some common misconceptions to address.
“I’ve seen healthier pets come through animal shelters and humane societies than I’ve sometimes seen through breeders and Craigslist,” Dr. Lindner said. “One of the problems I’ve found is that you have to rely on the breeder’s word, and you might not be getting the whole story. When you’re going through a shelter, they’re constantly under public scrutiny and therefore held accountable, so what they say happened really did happen.”
Shelters typically have a standard adoption fee. At Metro Animal Services, it’s $110 for cats and $130 for dogs. This fee includes spaying and neutering, microchipping and a license.
Breeders can demand as much as they feel fair, which can be anywhere from $900 to $2000, according to forbes.com.
“Some reputable breeders have done a lot of the footwork for vaccines and deworming, but the breeders aren’t spaying and neutering,” Dr. Lindner said. “Humane societies have pets altered and do most vaccines before they become available for adoption. Going through a breeder is going to cost you more in the long run than a shelter or humane society.”
Families might turn to breeders because they’re looking for a kitten or a puppy as opposed to an older pet. Kitten and puppy adoption rates are significantly higher at shelters, as well.
With older animals, they’ll appear to be who they are versus getting a kitten or puppy and realizing all too late that they’re a holy terror.
“Senior pets already have a developed personality, and they have a life of love left to give,” Rollins said.
Metro Animal Services is offering 50 percent off the regular adoption fees for animals above eight years old, with four of the animals currently up for adoption qualifying.
“When you’re considering getting a new pet, go to an animal shelter or a humane society first,” Dr. Linder said. [/responsivevoice]
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