Adopting vs. Buying: Choosing the Right Pet for You

Choosing to welcome a pet into your life is a momentous decision, often accompanied by a critical question: Should you adopt from a shelter or rescue group, or buy from a breeder? 

Both paths have their unique advantages and challenges, and your decision will largely depend on your personal circumstances, values, and specific desires in a pet. 

No matter which avenue you choose, what’s most important is that you are dedicated to giving your pet the best life possible. 

Adopting a Pet

Adoption involves taking a pet, typically a cat or dog, from a shelter, rescue group, or individuals looking to rehome their animals. It is a choice that comes with many considerations.

Ethical Aspects

By adopting, you provide a home to an animal that might otherwise stay in a shelter or even face euthanasia due to overpopulation. This not only gives one animal a second chance at life but also supports the overall mission of reducing the number of homeless animals.

Financial Aspects

Adopting is generally more affordable than buying from a breeder. Adoption fees often cover initial veterinary expenses, including spaying/neutering, vaccinations, and microchipping. However, potential owners should still account for future expenses, such as ongoing vet care, food, and other pet supplies.

Personal Aspects

Adopted pets come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. You can find kittens and puppies, young adults, or senior animals. Additionally, many shelters have mixed breeds, which can offer unique combinations of traits. However, it may be more challenging to predict the animal’s adult size, behaviour, or potential health problems. If you’re open to surprises and willing to provide training or medical care, adoption can be a gratifying experience.

Buying From a Breeder

Purchasing a pet from a breeder often involves acquiring a specific breed with certain traits. Breeders typically specialise in one or a few breeds of dogs, cats, or other animals.

Ethical Aspects

Buying from a reputable, responsible breeder can be an ethical choice. Good breeders prioritise animal welfare, provide adequate veterinary care, and breed to maintain or improve the breed’s health and temperament. However, caution is needed to avoid supporting puppy mills or other exploitative situations. It’s important to research and visit the breeder to ensure they uphold ethical standards.

Financial Aspects

Buying from a breeder can be expensive. The price tag covers not only the breed’s rarity or demand but also the costs associated with responsible breeding and early life care. Initial costs are just the beginning; purebred animals can be prone to certain breed-specific health problems, potentially leading to hefty vet bills down the line.

Personal Aspects

If you desire a pet with specific physical or behavioural traits, buying from a breeder might be the right choice. Reputable breeders can provide detailed information about the breed’s traits, potential health issues, and the particular puppy or kitten’s temperament. However, this does not eliminate the need for training or socialisation – all pets, regardless of their origin, need proper care and education.

How to Tell Where Your Pet Comes From

Understanding the origin of your prospective pet is crucial for ensuring you’re supporting ethical practices and getting a healthy, well-adjusted animal. Here are some tips to help pet buyers determine where their pet comes from.

1. Research the Seller

First and foremost, conduct thorough research on the person or organisation selling the pet.

Shelters and Rescues: These organisations often have transparent processes. You can research their mission, policies, and reviews online. Talk to the staff and volunteers to get a sense of their practices and values.

Breeders: With breeders, it’s important to verify their credibility. Look for membership in recognised breeding clubs, as they will have strict requirements for the care and breeding of the animals. Check online reviews and ask for references from previous buyers.

2. Visit the Premises

Whether you’re dealing with a shelter, rescue, or breeder, try to visit the place where the animal is housed before finalising the adoption or purchase.

  • Check the living conditions. They should be clean, spacious, and safe. The animals should have access to fresh water and appropriate food, and they should appear healthy and well-cared-for.
  • Observe how the animals interact with the staff or breeder. They should be comfortable and unafraid.

3. Ask for Documentation

Responsible organisations and breeders should provide clear documentation.

Shelters and rescues should be able to provide vaccination records, spay/neuter confirmation, and microchip information. Some may also have notes on the animal’s behaviour and history.

Breeders should provide a pedigree proving the animal’s lineage, as well as health clearances for the pet and its parents. This can help confirm that they’re breeding responsibly to prevent inherited health issues.

4. Ask Questions

Don’t hesitate to ask questions. Here are a few to consider:

  • Can you meet the animal’s parents (for breeders) or learn about the animal’s backstory (for rescues/shelters)?
  • How are the animals socialised?
  • What veterinary care has the animal received?
  • What kind of support or return policy is offered if the pet has unforeseen health or behaviour issues?

5. Trust Your Instincts

Finally, trust your instincts. If something seems off or too good to be true, it’s okay to walk away. A pet is a significant commitment, and it’s essential to ensure they’re coming from a place that prioritises their well-being and ethics.

Remember, every pet purchase or adoption supports the seller’s practices. By being thorough and deliberate in your pet acquisition, you can help support organisations and individuals who prioritise animal welfare.


Choosing between adopting a pet and buying from a breeder is a personal decision that should take into account your lifestyle, preferences, and the kind of pet that would best fit those. 

Regardless of the path you choose, it’s essential to prepare for the responsibility that comes with pet ownership. Both adopted pets and pets from breeders bring immeasurable joy, companionship, and love. 

The most important thing is to ensure that your new furry friend is welcomed into a caring, prepared, and loving home.