Shop or Adopt?

Why are some pets so expensive?

As a breeder of Registered Juliana miniature pet pigs, I have heard all of the angles on the adopt vs shop pet debate.  Some people accuse all breeders of being evil, or charging too much for pets. Some folks say that they only rescue their pets and will never pay for one.  

The people who make these comments are usually good people and their hearts are in the right place. But if you are making comments like these there are many things you do not know about breeding pets.  Some of the most common arguments against breeding need to be debunked, and here it is!

Every single animal that has ever been born as a domestic pet is the result of a breeder.  Some breeders are good, and some breeders are bad.  Some pet breeding is intentional, and some is accidental, but all pets were bred somewhere.

We have all heard of animal hoarders and puppy mills and these types of breeders should obviously be avoided at all costs.  But these sensational stories we hear about on the news are not the most common place that our pets are born.  So where do most pets come from if the majority are not born in puppy mills?

Well there is responsible breeding.  This is when a person who loves animals chooses their favorite breed or species and decides that they want to make a commitment to share the best of these animals with others. Good breeders love their animals like family and usually feed them better than they feed themselves.  Any good breeder will tell you that they pay vet bills that cost thousands of dollars each month, and good breeders provide excellent housing, toys, beds, and best of everything for their animals that cost tens of thousands more.

Good breeders choose only the best of their breed to reproduce.  If any of the animals that they encounter do not have an excellent temperament, perfect health and fail to meet the breed standard, they do not breed these animals. Only the best of the best will do for the good breeder.

Good breeders will only let the pets they produce go to the best possible homes and will always take the pets back if they ever find themselves homeless, so that the pets they produce will never end up in a shelter.  Good breeders will let you see their facility and meet the parents of your pet.  Good breeders will answer your questions and support you for years to come.

Good breeders are good people, and good breeding costs a lot of money.  This is why well-bred animals are not cheap.

On the other hand, there are bad breeders.  These are not necessarily bad people, just people who have no business breeding animals. These are people who get a dog, and then another, and let them have puppies, and sell the puppies out of the trunk of their car in a parking lot on the weekend.  These are people who did not consider the health or temperament of the animals that they bred.  These people did not spend thousands of dollars on vet bills to get the pets they are selling spayed or neutered or vet checked or microchipped.  These are people who did not invest in good quality nutrition for the pregnant mama or her babies.  Nor did they start the babies on training and socialization to make the transition home easier.

Bad breeders often will not let you see the parents, or come to their home.  Bad breeders do not offer a health guarantee or lifetime support. In fact you will probably never hear from them after the day you bring your baby home.

So when I hear stories from people describing how they purchased a puppy off craigslist for $200 because they only “rescue” and don’t support breeders, I shake my head and sigh. Because that IS supporting a breeder, it just isn’t supporting a good one.

What about animal shelters you ask?  There are awesome rescues out there doing really great work.  (In fact, you probably don’t know that many of the very best rescues are run by good breeders!)  But just like breeders, some rescues are good and some rescues are bad.

There are people out there who run “rescue” organizations that are actually horrific hoarding situations. And there have been cases of donated funds not being properly allocated.  So when supporting a rescue organization, please do your research, visit the facility and know your facts.  

There is nothing more admirable than getting your pet from a true, honest and reputable rescue facility. These places are full of animals that were irresponsibly bred by bad breeders, and the innocent animals are victims of circumstance that don’t deserve the fate they are given.  I have rescued many pets from shelters and wish I could rescue many more.  If you are in a position to rescue a pet and you have the time and financial resources to properly care for and train a rescue animal, please do!

But if you want an animal with a predictable size, dependable temperament and good health, please consider supporting a good breeder.  They will provide you with support if you need it for the life of the animal, and there is nothing evil about that.

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Ashley Aakre is an author and serial entrepreneur.

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Lil' Smokies Julianas specializes in raising rare and exotic registered miniature Juliana pet pigs.
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