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Should you Adopt from a Shelter, Rescue or Breeder?

There are a lot of choices when it comes time to adopt a puppy. Are you thinking about a specific breed? Are you going to contact a breed-specific rescue group? What about the local animal shelter? Does your area have adoption days at a local pet store in conjunction with an animal shelter or rescue group? Consider using The Shelter Pet Project to find a shelter or rescue group to adopt your puppy.

Should you Adopt from a Shelter, Rescue or Breeder?

Recommended Products

The Puppy Baby Book

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This unique “fill in the blanks” book gives dog lovers the same opportunity to chart their puppies growth and progress, as parents of infants do with their baby books.


Many “puppies for sale” advertisements are back yard breeders or puppy mills. The large majority of puppy mills have deplorable living conditions for their dogs and many people who adopt from those sources later discover that their puppy has either a medical or psychological problem. Try to learn as much as you can about where your puppy was born, veterinary records, and the conditions of the birth. Avoid anyone who claims they don’t have that information.

The following links provide information about puppy mills and how to determine if the pup you are interested in is from a legitimate source, or a deplorable puppy mill.

Take a look at the statistics from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) so you can better understand pet population to make a wise choice with your adoption process.

  • Approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, approximately 3.9 million are dogs and 3.4 million are cats.
  • Each year, approximately 2.7 million animals are euthanized (1.2 million dogs and 1.4 million cats).
  • Approximately 2.7 million shelter animals are adopted each year (1.4 million dogs and 1.3 million cats).
  • About 649,000 animals who enter shelters as strays are returned to their owners. Of those, 542,000 are dogs and only 100,000 are cats.
  • Of the dogs entering shelters, approximately 35% are adopted, 31% are euthanized and 26% of dogs who came in as strays are returned to their owner.
  • About twice as many animals enter shelters as strays compared to the number that are relinquished by their owners.

You never know when your circumstances may change. Plan ahead for unforeseen situations so you are not faced with making life changing decisions, such as having to give your beloved pet up for adoption. The American Humane Association statistics show the most common reasons why people give up or give away their dog is because their new place of residence does not allow pets (29%), they do not have enough time to take care of the pet (10%), an unforeseen divorce/death in the family (10%), and behavior issues (10%). The following charts are provided by the American Pet Products Association (APPA) and American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

where do people acquire pets?

Facts2012 AVMA source  Book2015-16 APPA Survey
Dogs Adopted from a shelter or rescue84.7%37%(up from 35% from 2012/13
Cats adopted from a shelter or rescue46%(up from 43% from 2012/13
Dogs taken in as strays10.1%6%
Cats taken in as strays27%
Dogs acquied from friends or relative15%20%
Cats acquied from friends or relative28%
 Dogs Purchase from pet Store 4.2%4%(down from 5% i n 2012/13)
 Cats Purchase from pet Store2%
  Dogs Purchase from pet breeder 19.1%34%(Up from 32% in 2012/13)
  Cats Purchase from pet breeder3%


Facts2012 AVMA source  Book2015-16 APPA Survey
Household that owns at least one dognearely 43.3 million(36.5%)54.4 million(44%)
Estimated number of pet dogs per household70 million77.8 million
Dogs-owning household with small dogs1.61.43
Dogs-owning household with medium dogs 39.3%50%
Dogs-owning household with large dogs27.3%37%
Percentage of dog owners who considers their dogs to be family members 66%
Percentage of dog owners who considers their dogs to be pets or companions 32%
Percentage of dog owners who considers their dogs to be property 0.7%
  Average amount spent on veterinary care per year,per dog $227$1436
  Percentage of owned dogs who are spayed or neutred86%


Make sure you have researched wisely. Once you adopt a puppy, you are the parent. You want to have the best experience possible with your new puppy. And you want to make sure he is healthy and happy. Be sure to document your puppy’s adoption in your The Puppy Baby Book. And, take a look at our beautiful, frame-worthy adoption certificate.