With so Many Rescued Animals in Need, Why Do We Need Pet Stores?

A pet store may be the very first place you think of when you want to bring home a furry friend. But as a long-time friend to animals, turned occasional rescuer, I’m here to tell you there is a better way. Each year millions of animals are euthanized in the United States. Roughly 71% of cats and 56% of dogs that enter shelters are euthanized. Some may be euthanized due to illness. But many are simply unwanted and the shelters have to make room for more that arrive. If pet stores ceased to exist, perhaps more of these animals would be adopted in time.

What’s wrong with pet stores?

I take no personal issue with pet stores who properly care for the animals. My concern is more along the lines of pet overpopulation. Erasing pet stores just happens to be one way to cut down on overpopulation. With the animal shelters and city streets overrun as it is, the selling and purchasing of more and more animals compounds the problem. The more people buy from pet stores, the more animals these stores need to have around. Most pet stores buy these animals in bulk from breeders. Why buy animals this way when there are perfectly good ones sitting behind cage bars in a shelter? One of these lovable potential pets dies from euthanization every 8 seconds. One organizations, called Found Animals is about to try something that’s never been done before. Rescued animals will be available for adoption in a pet-store-like venue in the mall.

But I want a specific breed of pet

Contrary to what some may believe, purebred animals enter shelter doors quite often. Pet stores and breeders are not the only place to be breed-specific. In fact, it’s estimated that about 25% of all sheltered animals are purebreds. If you are set on a specific breed, call around to the animal shelters and rescue organizations in your area. Pet stores are far from the only source. Many areas have breed-specific rescues. There’s also the possibility that you will go to find one animal and fall in love with another. An animal should not be chosen just based on his breed, but also by the shared connection. My kids and I visit the local animal shelter often and it’s amazing to see even the breeds with the worst reputations being extremely loving and friendly. While dogs of the same breed can tend to have the same behaviors, you just can’t lump every animal of that breed into the same stereotype.

But my desired pet type isn’t available at shelters

Or so you think. There are plenty of shelters and rescue organizations with animals of all kinds that need your help. Hamsters, rabbits, guinea pigs, cats, mice, dogs, lizards, snakes, and just about any animal you can have as a pet can be found in an animal shelter. My kids and I have adopted several hamsters in need. We will always do this whenever we have room. Key words: “whenever we have room”. Animal hoarding is another issue that can cause shelters to become overrun and we plan to be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem. Call around to local organizations and shelters to find out who has the type of pet you want. Sometimes there are special organizations dedicated to a specific type of animal or breed.

I don’t care about pet overpopulation or statistics. I just want a pet.

Sadly, many people are not going to be wavered by statistics or population numbers. Even if you fall under that group, I still have plenty of reasons for you adopt a pet, rather than shop for one in a pet store.

  • Shelters have a health report for each animal.

  • Shelter animals come vaccinated.

  • Microchipping may be included in the adoption fee.

  • Adoption fees can be much lower than pet store fees.

  • Spay/neuter is routine and included in the adoption fee.

  • Adopting helps prevent the loss of a life.

  • You get the joy of knowing you did a good deed.

More from Lyn:

Helping Kids Care for Their First Hamster

Parents, Please Educate Your Kids Before Adopting a Pet

Are Shelter Pets Safe for Tweens?


Found Animals; “Found Animals Innovates ‘Pet Store Experience’ for Shelter Animals in Lakewood, CA”

American Humane Association; “Animal Shelter Euthanasia”

Humane Society of the United States (HSUS); “Pet Overpopulation”

Ohio Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA); “Pet Overpopulation”