According to Google search volume data, from February to July of 2020, total searches for adopt a puppy were up 234%, buy a puppy up 230%, and dog rescue centres near me up 309%. When comparing July 2020 to July 2019, searches for kittens near me were up 662% and buy a puppy near me up 504%. This is a clear indication that the period over the first lockdown resulted in more people interested in buying and adopting animals.

After debating the pros and cons of getting a furry friend to welcome into your home, you must then decide whether to adopt or shop. This decision is never an easy one to make, with many potential concerns associated with both. There are an abundance of articles and social media pages out there that give their opinions on what is morally the right and wrong thing to do, with many arguing adopting an animal from a shelter should always be preferred. However, the answer is not this straightforward and is entirely your decision. There have been reports that dog rehoming charity Dog’s Trust has seen an increase in people giving up their dogs as previous lockdown periods have been eased, predicting numbers as high as tens of thousands as owners realise they can no longer look after their pup.

Are you one of these people? If so, this article will help you make your decision. Here, we debate the pros and cons to adopting or shopping for a pet!

The rewards and challenges of rescue animals

As previously discussed, rescuing an animal over buying is a concept many people consider the ‘morally correct’ thing to do. However, this decision is entirely up to you.  Recently, there have been reports that dog rehoming charity Dog’s Trust has seen an increase in people giving up their dogs as lockdowns have eased, predicting numbers as high as tens of thousands as owners realise they can no longer look after their pup.

Naturally, rescuing an animal from a shelter is a rewarding feeling, knowing that you’ve just potentially saved the life of an adorable furry friend. As sad of a thought it is, many animals that aren’t adopted from shelters are unfortunately put to sleep, so by giving them a fresh start at life and welcoming them with open arms into a new family is something they will forever be grateful for.

Although it is assumed that rescue animals have already had their infant years, this isn’t necessarily the case. Puppies and kittens can also be found in rescue shelters. For those that want the best of both worlds and want to adopt an animal that is also at the beginning of its life, perhaps this is the ideal scenario for you.

With this said, it’s important not to forget the potential challenges of rescuing a pet from a shelter. Since many animals have been abused or abandoned by their previous owners, they may struggle with behavioural or mental issues as a result. Many animals that have experienced this may lack knowledge of basic house-training rules, such as knowing to go outside when they need the toilet, or not to chew and destroy items in the house. Others may suffer anxiety, especially when in unfamiliar situations. This could cause them to act timidly and fearfully, or sometimes aggressive if this is how they have been accustomed to reacting.

With all of these potential issues considered, rescuing an animal is not as easy as picking it up from the shelter. A lot of time, patience and understanding need to be invested in order to give your pet the life it deserves.

Can you teach an old dog new tricks?

Perhaps one of the biggest considerations when choosing to shop or adopt an animal is deciding whether you would prefer an old or young pet.

With young pets, regardless if you have shopped or adopted one, teaching them the basic principles and behavioural manners is no easy task. If you haven’t had a pet before, additional time and money may need to be invested in training classes for them if you are unsure the right way to do this.

On the other hand, adopting or buying an older pet that is already trained may require less time towards doing this. However, that’s not to say no time at all will be needed. As previously mentioned, animals that have come from rescue shelters may not have been trained at all, or worse, have been socialised with the wrong ideas. Therefore, an older animal doesn’t always mean that the hard work is all done.

Regardless of the age your animal is at, all pets require a lot of time, energy, and love dedicated towards them — not to mention the financial expenses too. Other than food, insurance, and toys to play with, your pet will ideally need good preventative healthcare, such as flea and worming plan. There are several options to choose from with both over-the-counter preventatives or prescription preventative products, such as Advocate for dogs, depending on what suits your financial decision best.

Buying animals: the pros and cons

For a lot of us, the main reason for buying a pet is so that we can raise it from its very earliest days and watch them grow and develop over the years knowing no one else has played their part in this. Not only that, being able to train it to be a well-mannered pet that can do all the fun tricks it desires is a rewarding feeling.

However, there are some negatives to buying an animal rather than rescuing. For example, the likes of puppy mills are a common concern associated with shopping for dogs. For those that don’t know, a puppy mill is where dogs are bred by the breeders for the main purpose of profit. The main issues associated with these mills are the conditions that the dogs are kept in — with many being neglected and kept in cramped, uncomfortable cages. Although a lot of puppy mills are deemed illegal in some places, they do still exist. Put simply, the more people that buy from them, the more money breeders make to keep these puppy mills up and running.

Other than puppy mills, you also need to be aware of pet scammers when shopping for a pet. This is when someone advertises an animal they are selling but doesn’t actually have the animal to sell. So, if you do plan on shopping for your pet, make sure you have seen it in person first before paying your deposit or any other additional expenses that are attached.

Another thing to consider about shopping for a pet is the fact it has not been trained or socialised at all yet — which means it is your responsibility to do so. This is a big challenge to take on and requires a lot of time and patience to do so. In addition to this, although financial cost shouldn’t in any way be the main determinant over whether you shop or adopt a pet, adopting is a lot more affordable than shopping.

Do you have the time?

Probably the main factor to consider before adopting or buying a pet is to decide whether you actually have the time to raise it. The idea of welcoming a new pet into your home is an exciting concept, however, life can sometimes come in between. For those that work during the week or spend large amounts of time out of the house, buying a pet may not be the best decision.

Although older animals that are trained, well-behaved, and are used to being left to their own devices for a few hours during the day are okay, the likes of younger pets who are not house-trained need your devoted attention in the initial stages.

The same concept applies for adopted pets too, regardless of age. It’s important to remember that in some cases, animals have been put into shelters because their previous owners were struggling to cope with them — it’s not always because they have been abused or abandoned. It’s found that a proportion of animals who have behavioural issues such as being noisy, destructive, or untrained become too much for their owners to cope with. These problems can of course be worked on and fixed, however, having the time and patience to do so is a must.

Regardless of whether you choose to adopt or shop, knowing that you’re providing the best life you can for your pet is something to feel good about. Pets do more than just make for a cute family photo — they provide a lifetime of love, enjoyment, and happiness into your home.