Adopt don’t shop: The downside of buying your pets

Tishauna Carrell,
Staff Writer

During the summer of 2015, I adopted my dog, Gus, a large fluffy ombre brown Chow Chow mix from the Long Beach Animal Shelter. My mom, little sister and I had decided that we wanted a dog. As long as it was from a shelter, I did not care which breed it was.

Within one minute of entering the facility, my mom was instantly drawn to Gus, who was laying down in the corner of his gated cage.

“He reminds me of Mookie,” my mom said, referring to her childhood Chow Chow dog. We spent 30 minutes filing paperwork, answered questionnaires and paid $100, and then became new dog owners to Gus.

Sadly, Gus passed away from cancer on Jan. 19. Although his death was shocking to my family and we didn’t own him for as long as I would’ve liked, I’m glad I was able to provide a happy environment for his final two years of life. Gus’ death also reminded me why I am a big advocate for pet adoption.

Prior to adopting Gus, I wrote a research paper in my freshman year English class on why adopting is better than buying dogs from breeders. I learned about the overpopulation of unwanted. I also learned about puppy mills, which are facilities that force dogs to breed and then are sold to pet stores.

Puppy mills operate nationwide and are mostly located in agricultural states such as  Kansas, Iowa, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Missouri and Arkansas, according to, an international nonprofit that advocates for animals. Due to the unsanitary conditions of puppy mills, sick puppies with viruses or contagious diseases are given to pet shops. As someone who used to love visiting pet stores just to look at dogs, I was extremely upset to find out that this was happening.

Approximately 7.9 millions animals are taken to the shelter and 2.7 million are adopted every year, according to American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. If people were to adopt rather than buying dogs, it could put an end to puppy mills and also help with overpopulation.

Because of pet overpopulation, shelters are unable to take care of homeless pets, and put them to sleep. Some of the reasons for this is that owners let their animals have babies and cannot provide a home for all of them. Animals then end up wandering the streets having babies, according to the Humane Society.

“So many pets are out there homeless, so we encourage people to come to the shelter to adopt first rather than buying a pet,” said Hayward Animal Shelter volunteer coordinator Hilary Drake. “If you go to a breeder, people will continue to breed full pets but there’s all these homeless pets sitting in shelters and they need help too.”

The Hayward Animal Shelter markets February as adoption month and kicked off with an event called “All Fur Love” where people with qualified homes could adopt a pet for free. “All Fur Love” was started several years ago by the staff team. “The shelter staff often come up with fun names and event ideas to promote adoptions, like “All Fur Love,” said Hayward Animal Shelter Volunteer Coordinator, Alyse Lui.

This year the event took place at the Hayward Animal Services on Feb. 11. In the days leading up to the event, the shelter featured red and pink heart decorations and a free Valentine’s Day booth at the event.

In order to adopt a dog, visitors had to fill out a 3-page questionnaire and complete an interview based on the questionnaire and the environment of the home. Although the event was free, the shelter suggested a $10 donation.

“We like to do an event around certain holidays, and we thought it would be a good time to do an event around Valentine’s Day,” said Drake. Its promotion [lets us] do something different and it gives us a bit of media coverage as well.”

For the second time, the event was sponsored by Assembly member Bill Quirk. Because of him, the Hayward Animal Shelter was able to offer free spay and neuter vouchers. “Bill Quirk has been a long-time supporter of Hayward Animal Services and wants to help animals get adopted into loving homes,” Lui said.

Fortunately, according to Drake, there are no puppy mills in Hayward, but they are focused on addressing overpopulation by offering the free spay and neuter vouchers. “Spaying and Neutering is a great way to help reduce pet overpopulation in Hayward and also help your pet live a longer, more comfortable life,” said Lui.

Although I do not plan on getting another dog any time soon, knowing that I provided Gus with a happy life makes me proud and I will continue to encourage people to adopt.