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Commentary: I Will Judge You for Buying a Dog From a Breeder

I understand the lure of a purebred puppy, but there are too many homeless pets for me ever to support buying a dog from a breeder.

Kezia Willingham  |  Nov 2nd 2015


In this day and age, most people have some familiarity with animal rescue. At the minimum, they have a Facebook friend (like me) who shares animal rescue information or a neighbor who rescued a dog. Or they’ve seen billboards promoting adoptions from the local shelter.

A mural at Oregon Humane Society. (Photo by Kezia Willingham)

A mural at Oregon Humane Society. Photography by Kezia Willingham.

With all the attention the rescue movement has received in recent years, you’d think 100 percent of people would choose to rescue over buying a dog from a breeder, right?

Apparently not.

The other day, when a FB friend asked where to find a certain breed of puppy, which I know is easily found in local shelters, I shared some resources. By the end of the comment thread, however, she appeared to have found a puppy from a breeder. It was then that I realized I’m not as open-minded as I like to think: I immediately thought less of the person for buying a dog instead of rescuing one.

An adorable puppy for adoption.

Cute little adoptable puppy. Photography by Kezia Willingham.

Ever since I learned about animal rescue, I’ve been passionate about supporting the cause. In fact, I think animal rescue is one of the best acts of goodwill a person can perform in her lifetime. Rescuing just one dog or cat and saving a life feels good; it’s a tangible act of service that benefits all involved.

If you’re a parent, this also is a profound way to teach your children the value of saving a life and what it means to care for an animal. Character development is best done through demonstration.

A child playing with a cute adoptable puppy.

My son Justin visiting with a puppy at Oregon Humane Society. Photography by Kezia Willingham.

My opinion on rescue vs. buying from a breeder is clear: Adopt, don’t shop.

I’d like to think that I don’t judge other people. It’s petty and immature. It’s a waste of time and energy. It does no good. And yet, here I am judging someone for choosing to purchase a puppy from a breeder as opposed to adopting one. What kind of hypocrite am I?

I guess I’m the kind of hypocrite who could pretend not to care when friends who have the intellectual ability to adopt choose to buy — but I do care, and I’ll judge them for it.

One of the author's rescue dogs.

My first dog ever, May Belle, adopted from Seattle Humane Society. Photography by Kezia Willingham.

Maybe I shouldn’t subscribe to as many rescue pages on Facebook, because every single day I see cute, adorable dogs and cats in desperate need of homes. Many have limited time in overwhelmed shelters that will kill them if they aren’t adopted, and this profoundly affects me.

I think I’ve done my part by adopting five rescue dogs (two of which are foster fails). In fact, none of the dogs we have living with us are my “dream breeds,” but I love them all for their personalities and the joy they bring into the life I share with my children. They are treasured gems who miraculously found their way into our lives.

My son Justin with our dog Magnum at the dog park. Photo by Kezia Wilingham.

My son Justin with our dog Magnum at the dog park. Photography by Kezia Wilingham.

I like Boston Terriers and French Bulldogs, and think they are delightfully cute. I confess that I’d like to have one of them eventually. I’ve gone so far as looking up breeder information online (and learned that buying a puppy from a breeder can be very expensive, depending on the source, gender, and age of the dog). I wholeheartedly agree that the Bostons and Frenchies I’ve met are about as charming as can be.

And yet, almost every shelter has many equally adorable dogs and cats for a fraction of the cost. Adoption compels me more than finding the “perfect” looking puppy from a breeder. And, since you can often find adoptable dogs from breed-specific rescue groups such as Bulldog Haven Northwest, I don’t see why I would ever go the breeder route.

Even though I think it’s morally wrong and a waste of energy to judge others, I have to be real and admit that I think less of a person who buys a dog from a breeder when so many precious lives perilously wait for their forever homes in shelters and rescue groups. These animals are everywhere, across the country. Take Villalobos Rescue Center of Pit Bulls & Parolees fame — at any given time it has close to 400 adorable, adoptable dogs looking for homes.

Me with May Belle at the dog park. Photo by Zinnia Willingham.

May Belle and me at the dog park. Photography by Zinnia Willingham.

To me, saving a life is a more noble choice than purchasing a dog from a breeder. I wish everyone felt the same way.

Do you agree with me? Or do you still give a pass to people why buy dogs? Tell me your reasons in the comments.

Read more about buying a dog from a breeder on Dogster.com: 

About Kezia Willingham: Also known as the Breadwinning Laundry Queen, Kezia works as the Health Coordinator for an urban Head Start program and lives with her family, which includes a pack of rescued animals, in Seattle. She is a regular contributor to Catster & Dogster. You can find her on Twitter @KeziaWillingham.