If you’re thinking of buying a pet, please do so from a rescue centre wherever possible.
Probably the vast majority of animals that are bred to be pets (particularly rodents and other small animals like reptiles and rabbits) are done so in horrifying conditions. There’s a really informative webpage on it if you Google ‘rat farming’. They do that for other animals too, as I’m sure people have heard about the puppy farming scandal. However for rodents this is the norm for breeding not the exception. For example with rat farming, the rats are kept in awful conditions, and most of them die as a result. These are then sent to pet shops to be reptile food, and the ones that haven’t died are sent to be pets themselves. However male and female rats can reproduce at a very young age and they’re not separated early enough so often the females fall pregnant before they even reach the pet shop unbeknown to the pet store people. Then they are sold, sometimes often as the wrong sex as many pet shop staff are not competent at sexing small animals. So an owner ends up with a male and female when they thought they had two female, and the female’s already pregnant and they get a ton of baby rats. If you complain to the pet shop they say that’s no problem, bring them back here and we’ll sell them – it’s free profit for them isn’t it!
Many people have reported pet shops for appalling treatment of their animals particularly rodents and fish. Josh and I are planning to get guinea pigs soon and we’ve heard so many horror stories about pet shops including big chains which I won’t name because I don’t want to be accused of libel but you can Google them and probably will find horrible stuff about them. Often people end up buying small animals from them that have mites and other things wrong with them, or are mis-sexed, or already pregnant, and so on. Also pet store animals are not handled very often so are more likely to be really skittish of human contact which is not what most people want in a baby pet.
So those are reasons why not to buy from a pet shop (or indeed a breeder as it’s even more difficult to assess their treatment!). Now I will list the pros of adoption from a rescue where possible:
– Older animals. Many people want kittens or baby guinea pigs or whatever, but if you think about a large animal like a cat, they can live for like 15 years or so. Therefore you’re still going to have them a very, VERY long time even if it’s not a kitten. Also kittens and puppies can be very hyper and destructive and require someone to be at home with them all day and lots of supervision. Older animals generally do need that amount of care so can be better suited to your lifestyle, particularly if you’re a first-time owner and feeling a bit lost. They will often be easier to train as they may have been trained before too.
– Rescues will always give you as much info as possible on the background of the animals and how they came to be into the care of the shelter. This includes info about the character of the pet whilst in the shelter. They will not rehome difficult animals with first-time owners. This would not be in their interests as the animal is then more likely to be shifted back to the rescue which is expensive for the shelter and also distressing for the pet. Rescues are experts in helping you find an animal that is suited to your lifestyle. They don’t run for profit like a pet store or breeders do and won’t just sell you any unsocialised, ill animal for the money the way they often do.
– Animals in shelters get excellent veterinary care, so you don’t have to worry about health problems etc.
– Often it can be cheaper to adopt an animal from a shelter than from a private breeder.
– You can visit the shelter animals as often as you want before and after you reserve one. There is always seriously knowledgeable staff on hand to answer questions and often you can buy some of the pet supplies from the shelter themselves.
– Shelters often do home checks. This might sound a bit annoying but it’s to make sure the house they are going to is appropriate for the animal. This shows their commitment to ensuring the welfare of the animal, they’re not just trying to get rid of it as they don’t want you to end up taking it back to them. If you have nothing to hide there is no reason to be worried about this.
– Also I did say before about older animals, but shelters do frequently get kittens and puppies etc in too so you’re not forced to get an older animal if you’ve got your heart set on bringing up a baby.
– Ongoing support. Rescue centres provide you with ongoing support, you’re welcome to go back to ask questions about animal welfare. Also should your circumstances change you know where the animal is going to go if you are forced to give it up.
SO. That’s my feelings. My sister wanted a cat and my mum was adamant about getting a kitten from a breeder. I talked her round and we visited a local RSPCA shelter. We end up coming back reserving two 10 month old cats (sisters). They should be arriving tomorrow after they conduct the home visit today. My partner and I are also hoping to adopt two guinea pigs from a local independent shelter in Leicester when we go back. Hope this post is useful for people.