So you want to buy a puppy. It’s a good way to teach responsibility to the kids, you’ll always have a buddy, they’re so cute, I always had one growing up. There are as many reasons for wanting a puppy (or kitten) as there are people wanting one. Now you’ve decided that adding a furry companion to your family is exactly what you want to do. What next?

There are several options. There are pet stores – they have puppies, and they are so cute. There are also breeders. Read the local newspaper, do a search online, and easy peasy, there are puppies of every breed to choose from.

It’s fun to go to the pet store; after all, there are many different breeds to look at, all are cute babies, and they’ll let you play with them if you ask. It’s a “one stop” adventure into bringing home that little furry bundle of joy. Here is the “why not.” Almost all puppies in pet stores come from puppy mills. By purchasing your pet there, you support the puppy mill industry, which is a cruel life for the parents of that cute little puppy. The adult animals are living in squalor, often in cages in their own excrement, without any end in sight. They live 24/7 in an enclosure, often crowded in with other dogs, and receive no vet care. They are bred like machines until those little bodies can no longer sustain, and they either die right there, or they are abandoned at shelters with little hope of adoption due to their overwhelming physical problems. These poor dogs die alone, unwanted, unloved.

Ok, you say, in that case I’ll buy from a newspaper ad. It may take a bit more running around, using gasoline and my time, but I won’t support the awful puppy mill industry. A much better choice right? Think again – these people are also breeding for the almighty dollar. The “backyard breeder” typically has a pair of dogs they bought, and are breeding them to recoup their initial investment in the parents. They have no clue about genetics, no idea what ailments and hereditary issues they are breeding into these puppies, and worse – they are contributing to the number of pets that end up in a shelter after the cuteness wears off, and that puppy starts chewing things, tears up the place, and becomes unmanageable due to being poorly socialized. A staggering 4+ million pets in this country are “euthanized” because quite simply, there are not enough homes. 4 million.

The last, and best option is to adopt, not shop. Don’t buy a puppy from a pet store OR through an ad. Make the choice to adopt and you’ll be saving a life. Stop and ask yourself if a puppy is truly what you want (and have the time for). Puppies are like babies. They need vast amounts of attention and socializing to become good citizens. There is also the cost of vet care to get them to adulthood. They need vaccines, spayed/neutered, obedience classes, and lots of patience. Why not consider an adult dog, and avoid the silly puppy antics. If you choose a dog through a rescue, they are usually kept in foster homes, where much time and effort has been put into making them a great canine citizen. Rescues are excellent at finding a personality “match” for you, and wouldn’t give you a dog that wouldn’t fit into your lifestyle. The dogs are fully vetted, microchipped in most cases, and ready to move in – and they know how lucky they are to be chosen! They will reward you with a lifetime of devotion and love. The rescue folks WANT you both to be happy forever; it shows in the care they take making sure that the breed and individual personality of the dog you get will fit into your lifestyle.

Think about adopting. You save 2 lives when you adopt – the one you bring home, and the one that comes into rescue next as the free space is opened. Please, choose wisely, and adopt, don’t shop, become a life-saver.