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How to Choose Between Adopting From a Shelter or Buying From a Breeder

If your family is on the lookout for a furry new member, here’s what you need to know about adopting a rescue pup versus buying from a breeder

A smiling woman with long wavy brown hair is in side profile. She is holding a puppy that has a mix of white and dark and light brown turn with its nose touching her nose.

If you’re planning to add a pet to the family, adopting from a shelter and buying from a breeder are options.

“I have chosen from both breeder and shelter,” says Dr. Cindy Kneebone of the East York Animal Clinic and Holistic Centre. Whichever you choose, Kneebone to research and give yourself a few breed choices. “Think of the size of animal that you would like to fit your home and family, the temperament and exercise requirements,” she says.

What to know about adopting from a shelter

You can find pets of all sizes and breeds at a shelter. It is often less expensive to adopt a pet than to purchase from a breeder, but more importantly, you’re giving an animal a much-needed home.

“Sometimes animals come to us through rescue transfer programs,” says Hannah Sotropa, assistant manager of communications at the Toronto Humane Society. “If you are keen on a certain breed, check with reputable shelters first. You just never know what breeds might be available.”

“I have found most of my dog friends from a shelter situation,” says Kneebone. A breeder usually has a waiting list and will have animals available at limited times, but at a shelter or an adoption centre, there are often more options. “I adopted a very anxious eight-year-old dog and she turned out to be the most amazing, beautiful, devoted dog that brought such joy into our home,” says Kneebone.

Tips for buying from a breeder

A breeder can help you decide if the breed you have your heart set on is well-suited to your lifestyle. In conjunction with your vet, responsible breeders can provide specific advice on your pet as it grows. They will also have the information about your pet’s—and their parents’—medical histories.

Do your due diligence to find a reputable breeder, says Sotropa. Among the questions you should ask are: Do they have paperwork to confirm the animal’s origins? If not, you run the risk of endemic diseases. See if it’s possible to meet the pets’ parents. “If the mom and dad are not in the best condition, it might be a cue not to support that particular breeder,” says Sotropa. And ask the breeder if they can provide medical records to illustrate a clean bill of health. “The last thing you want is for the animal to fall ill and then you’re hit with a large and unexpected cost,” Sotropa says. Also, Kneebone reminds prospective pet owners that “a $3,000 price tag carries no guarantee for health or personality.”

Pets mean a commitment for the lifetime of the animal, so do your research to ensure you are giving your relationship the best possible start.

Protect your pet

Pets are important members of our families, which is why it’s important to ensure you have the right coverage for your dog or cat. That’s why CAA Pet Insurance offers a variety of plans, ranging from compact and intermediate to luxury.

Image credit: lisegagne/iStock