By: | | Dogs, Cats

Your family is ready for a new addition, and you might already know what kind of pet you want, and what you’ll name it. But where will you actually purchase your next pet?

You have plenty of options, and there’s no wrong answer. Get to know the different ways to buy or adopt a pet so you can make the right decision for your family.

Adopting at Your Local Shelter

Your local shelter might not have the exact breed or color you’re after, but most have a wonderful array of animals of different sizes, ages and temperaments. It’s worthwhile to check here first.

You can ask a shelter worker to help you choose a pet that is good with kids, or will get along with your other animals. They spend enough time with the shelter residents to know about their personalities and exercise requirements.

Whether or not your shelter has a “death row,” of pets due to be euthanized, you’ll make a pet very happy by taking it out of the loud, crowded shelter. Nothing beats a warm bed of their own and one-on-one attention.

As a bonus, you’ll save a lot of money by adopting an animal that has already gotten all of its shots, and is already spayed or neutered. The adoption fee will rarely be more than $200, though around certain holidays or events there may be discounts or even a “free adoption day.” Even so, be prepared to spend money on supplies and an initial vet visit.

Should You Ever Buy Your Pet from a Pet Store?

You may have already noticed that many pet stores that once sold kittens and puppies are now out of business, or have at least stopped selling animals. Montgomery County in Maryland passed a law in 2015 than bans pet shops from selling animals from commercial breeders.

Pet stores typically do not care properly for their animals. They’re often kept in small cages with wire floors that are painful to walk on. But the real problem is, these animals are often purchased from puppy mills or kitten mills, in which animals are bred en masse, rarely with health or temperament in mind.

You could bring home a puppy with severe genetic health issues that could have easily been prevented with responsible breeding, or a kitten with a virus, contracted from crowded, unclean living quarters. Pet stores sell animals for up to $1000, and may need expensive vet care.

However, some pet stores now sell animals sourced from shelters. If you’re considering a pet store purchase, be sure to ask plenty of questions about where the animals come from, and what would happen if your pet turns out to be ill shortly after you bring them home.

Is It Okay to Buy from a Breeder?

Responsible breeders only have a few litters per year. They typically take care for their animals in their home, and handle new kittens and puppies to socialize them from an early age. They check their dams and sires for hereditary health issues, and will not breed animals that do not have good genetics.

Not all breeders are responsible. Research prospective breeders before you meet them, and ask them questions like: Do they take the dam to the vet throughout her pregnancy? Are the mothers and fathers of their litters health tested? What happens to puppies and kittens that nobody buys? A good breeder will ask you plenty of questions and will give you plenty of advice on caring for your new pet.

A responsible breeder’s goal is to produce quality animals that improve their breed. Many take their animals to conformation shows. Purebred pets from a reputable breeder will cost a few hundred to a few thousand dollars – and the quality of their animal will be worth the hefty price tag.

Breeders do not necessarily add to the pet overpopulation problem if they are breeding quality animals that will not end up in shelters. Though shelters are packed, it’s not easy to find a healthy, purebred pet that has been bred and handled for good temperament.

Getting a Puppy or Kitten from Your Friend’s Accidental Litter

Your friend’s cat or dog just had kittens or puppies, and they just offered to let you take one home. At least you know the kitten or puppy’s parents, and you can see that your friend’s family has been socializing the animal at a young age. You can also tell that the animals are outwardly clean, healthy and well loved.

Getting a puppy or kitten from an accidental litter isn’t a bad idea, though you should encourage your friend to have their dam spayed. In the meantime, what’s done is done, and taking a pet home will save them from ending up at a shelter.

It’s unlikely that the dam and sire were health tested for genetic issues, but regardless of where your pet comes from, there is a chance that they will eventually get sick.

Remember, though: there’s no such thing as a free puppy or kitten. Obtained this way, you’ll still have to pay for the immunizations, plus neuter or spay surgery.

Next Step: Get to Know Your Pet Sitter

Ready Pet Go provides professional pet care services for all animals in Silver Spring and Takoma Park, MD and Washington, DC. Once your new pet gets settled in, give us a call to set up a Meet & Greet. Then, you’ll always have an experienced, knowledgeable pet sitter available to care for your pet when you’re not home.