“Adopt Don’t Shop” is Bad for Dogs

The Adopt Don’t Shop Myth:

“Adopt Don’t Shop” has been the slogan of many rescue organizations for the past several years. While it seems that many people initially understood this as a stand against puppy mills and backyard breeders, in recent years it seems that many animal lovers have started to see all breeders are horrible people. Currently, a whole slew of pet lovers see buying from breeders as morally objectionable. In this article, the issue will be addressed as to why this slogan is damaging, and how the inevitable result of such thinking is the destruction of generations of selective breeding. At its core, the “Adopt Don’t Shop” movement seeks to cause the extinction of the domesticated dog.  

This post is not meant to dissuade anyone from adopting from a pound, rescue, or shelter. I love my current rescues pets, and every other rescued pet I have ever owned. At the writing of this post, I have never bought from a breeder. This article is not meant to deter people from adopting a dog; rather, it seeks to shed light on the idea that no one should buy from breeders, and that all breeders should stop producing dogs.

Origins of Adopt Don’t Shop:

The “Adopt Don’t Shop” slogan began in 1984 in Los Angeles by Chris DeRose. The organization named Last Chance For Animals had the goal of exposing the exploitation of animals. (https://hamiltonpawprint.com/current-events/2018/10/25/adopt-dont-shop/). The mission statement of Last Chance for Animals is as follows:

“Last Chance for Animals (LCA) is an international, non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating animal exploitation through education, investigations, legislation, and media attention.  LCA believes that animals are highly sentient creatures who exist for their own reasons independent of their service to humans; they should not be made to suffer for the latter.  LCA opposes the use of animals in food and clothing production, scientific experimentation, and entertainment and promotes a cruelty-free lifestyle and the ascription of rights to non-human beings.” (https://www.lcanimal.org/about-lca/mission-statement)

This certainly sounds nice to the unsuspecting person. Most animal lovers would say that they do not want animals to be exploited. Most people who have dogs, cats, and other creatures would agree that their critters are sentient. While not as intelligent as people, animals have feelings and emotions, and are able to form close bonds with their people and animal friends. So, most unsuspecting people would see nothing wrong with this mission statement and could easily get behind the adopt don’t shop movement. But what most people do not realize is what these groups mean when they say, “Adopt don’t shop.”

The Real Goal Behind Adopt Don’t Shop:

Language such as “eliminating animal exploitation” is largely derived from PETA (people for the ethical treatment of animals). This language is code for ending any human interaction with animals, including pet ownership. Here is quote from their website:

“In a perfect world, all animals would be free from human interference and free to live their lives the way nature intended. They would be part of the ecological web of life, as they were before humans domesticated them. But the world that we live in is far from perfect, and domestic cats and dogs are not capable of surviving on their own, so it is our responsibility to take the best possible care of these animals. Please be assured that PETA does not oppose kind people who share their lives and homes with animal companions whom they love, treat well, and care for properly.” (https://www.peta.org/issues/animal-companion-issues/companion-animals-faq/)

PETA members see a perfect world as one in which no one owns pets. To get to this point PETA wants the reproduction of any and all dogs to stop. While they do not mind people taking care of the existing domesticated dogs, they seek to cause the domesticated dog, and any domesticated animal, to go extinct.

 If everyone stopped breeding their dogs and if everyone sterilized every single dog, domesticated dogs would be extinct, and this is PETA’s goal, and likely the goal of any organization that states they wish to end “animal exploitation.” Many of the groups that tout the “Adopt don’t Shop” message are probably unaware of the origins of the phrase, or the end goal of such thinking, but any website that also makes statement on “animal exploitation” is probably seeking to stop pet ownership all together.

Dog ownership is not exploitation of dogs.

The Case for Breeders:

 The amazing diversity in dog breeds is a great accomplishment of mankind. We have designed these creatures to herd instead of kill, retriever instead of tear and destroy, and to choose the companionship of humans as opposed to their own kind. Selective breeding has created a variety of dogs, with Generations of selective breeding have produced what truly is “man’s best friend.”

 Dogs are not wonderful companions by accident. As is obvious, breeding needs to be done selectively to produce such wonderful dogs. It does not take long for dogs to become “undomesticated.” One only needs to look at the problems of street dogs in countries such as India, Russia, Mexico, and Romania to have this point proven to them. Even the United States has its issues with wild street dogs attacking humans on occasion (https://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/ny-wild-dogs-new-jersey-20200205-tmsn6hblbndn5kqsfkycf6lrla-story.html). It takes much work to create and maintain dogs that can perform specific tasks, whether that task be working in therapy, search and rescue, protection, and simply being good companions.

 One of the simplest and most enlightening statements I ever heard was in a video created by a breeder of Cane Corsos. In the video, she states the obvious truth that if no one breeds a certain breed for a 10-year period, that breed goes extinct (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7dzvXelJyAY). While a PETA activist would be happy about such an extinction, I believe the vast majority of pet owners would not be ok with the dog breeds they love and adore being completely gone in 10 years. Yet, this is the inevitable result if every breeder stopped breeding.

Ethical Breeders are Not the Problem:

Even if every ethical breeder stopped breeding tomorrow, puppy mills would still be breeding puppies as would backyard breeders. Frankly, PETA’s goal of ending pet ownership is a pipe dream on their part. People will never stop seeking out dogs as pets, and consequently, puppy mills and backyard breeders will never stop breeding. These people will keep producing dogs with a myriad of health problems and poor temperaments. The resultant dog population left after the ending of responsible breeding would be an extremely unhealthy group of dogs with behavioral issues. Perhaps then PETA could see their hopes come to life, as no one would want these creatures in the end, and people would possibly stop taking in dogs all together. But, as a dog lover, I hope PETA and its members never accomplish their objective of destroying the domesticated dog and other domesticated animals.  


If you choose to be anti-reputable breeder, that is your decision. Everyone is free to hold their own beliefs. But, a person touting such beliefs needs to be aware of the consequences of such actions. If you truly believe all dog ownership is a form of animal exploitation, you need to be willing to state that you also believe we should not own dogs, or any animal for that matter. A person against breeding dogs needs to realize that their stance would destroy the domesticated dog, all dog breeds, and end pet ownership if taken to its logical conclusion.

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