Why It Hurts Me When A Friend Buys A Pet

Maybe it’s just me.  I am scrolling thru my social media feeds and then, I see the post.  A friend who just got a new dog or a new cat.  At first, I get excited thinking about visiting the new addition, and wonder what they will name him or her.  Then, I wonder what shelter or rescue that they adopted from. I mean,  I don’t even think that they may have bought him.

Brickle, adopted 2009

It is always in the back of my mind, the hope that they indeed went to a rescue or a shelter to pick out their new family member. They know the stats right? I am pretty sure that they do, since I share articles and posts about adopting all of the time and the need to do so. They surely know that over a million animals were killed in United States shelters last year.  I want to ask directly if they adopted, but feel it is rude to do so.  And that would be crazy.  Crazy, I tell myself.  So I just wait for someone else to do it.

Then, I get my answer and I am hit right in the stomach.  They bought him? They bought him? Maybe it was a pet store, maybe a breeder.  And I am devastated.  It hurts.  And I am going to admit it.  It hurts bad.  I want to ignore it, I want to be happy for them and the dog.  After all, it isn’t the dog’s fault, is it?  And I tell myself that.  But somehow, I feel disrespected.  It is like everything that I stand for is invalidated.

Digby, adopted 2010

I spent the last year traveling the United States and I visited 48 shelters and rescues.  I saw firsthand the plight of homeless animals, and the blatant disregard from humans for them.  But I also saw the good people making a difference for these animals. And I know more than ever that every life matters.  Also, every choice that we make matters.  Yes, even those choices of my friends and family that I love so much.  Do I want to hit “like” on that post when I see your beautiful pet?  You bet I do.  Yet, I feel that if I do so, it will speak volumes.

So, when I see your post on social media that you bought an animal, or that you bred an animal, it will hurt me.  Will I still consider myself your friend?  I will, but it will be different between us.  And that is the honest truth.  The more we ignore the problems facing animals in our country, the more those problems become bigger problems. I cannot understand, and never will, how people can put their own desires ahead of what is right.  I have heard it all.

“I like a specific breed.”  Well.  Go to a breed specific rescue.

“Rescue animals are damaged”.  Oh, I’m sorry.  I didn’t know you were perfect.

“The rescue wants to make a home visit.  I don’t have time for that.”  Then you probably don’t have enough time for a pet.

Does rescuing an animal take more time than buying from a breeder?  It does. You have to go to a shelter, or research a rescue.  Oftentimes, you may have to wait to see an animal, or pay an adoption fee.  You may not find your pet soulmate immediately.  You may adopt an animal with a little baggage and have to be more patient, or they may require more training.  I realize all of this.  I also realize that I alone can’t change everything. But I sure changed everything for my two rescue dogs, Brickle and Digby.  And you can change everything for an animal out there waiting for you.


The realist in me realizes that not “liking” a post on social media does nothing. I also realize that everyone has a right to their opinions and feelings.  But my feelings are hurt.  And I admit it.

-Rachael Johnson (Girl Person) 2 Traveling Dogs

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185 thoughts on “Why It Hurts Me When A Friend Buys A Pet

  1. A.F.

    Rachel, I’m sorry that there are so many people who feel the need to leave nasty comments on your site.
    I am with you on this topic of rescue vs breeders. As I was reading your words, I felt it could have been me writing them. Sadly, some of these comments above show the ugliness of the online world…people who feel they can write whatever hurtful, self entitled stuff they want without any consequence, because they will never meet you face to face. They can hide their nastiness behind a computer or smart phone as they type away in anonymity.
    I adopted my beautiful Saluki/Shepherd 8 years ago, rescued from Taiwan (when he was 3),and as a human who has always adopted from shelters, no matter what the animal ( hamsters, cats, dogs)… every animal that has entered my life has enriched me with so much love and happiness.
    Why people feel compelled to write aggressive comments, is beyond me. Maybe something within them is being triggered? They lash out because they don’t like to face a truth?
    So much time spent on being mean, when we could all be building each other up and acting from a place of kindness and peace. The world definitely needs more kindness and empathy….
    Just my two cents.


    1. Maybe because we are tired of having adopt only shoved down our throats. How you obtain your pets is not your business. If someone wants to buy a pet, with their money, they earn.. That is their business. Rescues have just as much abuse and neglect as breeders. Or did you not read how some employee at a adopt shop throw a dog against the wall. Or the horrible conditions of Puppy Mill Rescue. There are plenty of rescues that buy from dog auctions!!!

      My husband’s cat just died, and I bought him a cat from a breeder. She is beautiful, well socialized, and is a great addition to our household. I also have rescues. But what does it matter?! What matters is we give our pets a good life.


  2. SJZTil

    I have rescues…I’ve been involved in rescue for years…I have both well bred dogs and rescues, I do not breed (nor have any interest in it)

    people like you are horrible for rescue…..

    Dogs are working animals, and we still use them as such. Well bred dogs who can do jobs, who can perform are REQUIRED by many venues and a world that condemns anything but rescue is a world that won’t have dogs. Responsibly bred dogs aren’t in shelters…It’s not a purebred thing (purebred does not mean well bred) and a future of only unstable of “genetic lottery crapshoot” winners is not a future will it will be safe to have a dog.

    You want your friends to get into rescue? Help them adopt OR shop responsibly. TALK to them. If they just want a specific look and a “good pet” then talk to them about breed rescue. If they talk about a dog for a specific job or outlet then make SURE they know about responsible breeders to not get sucked in by “oh well it’s registered, that means quality” or purebred dogs as a status symbol. Encourage them to get into the breed they like at ALL levels and connect them with responsible breeders in that breed who can mentor them. You could be introducing them to starting a future breed rescue as they realize not all of the breed they love has as dedicated and responsible a breeder as their mentor. These people can save SO many dogs because they start with well bred dogs and the correct genetic behavior motivations then learn how it degrades in poorly bred versions and can handle and train around that. Their stable well bred dogs provide a rock for poorly bred ones and they become involved in rehabbing the less adoptable dogs who don’t normally get out of rescue and finding them (or providing them with) homes.

    My well bred dogs are personally responsible for rehabing dozens unadoptable rescues, and raising dozens more puppies dumped or born into rescue and giving them an incredible start often against some of the genetic temperament shortcomings many have. They’ve allowed me to take in behavioral rehabs that would have been impossible to do without a stable dog as a model. I grew up with well bred dogs with tremendous breeder support which allowed me to understand dog behavior select a rescue for my first “after leaving home dog” (and even then…I won the temperament and structural lottery….not the health one). At the same time many of my friends grew up with rescue culture and many opted to not have dogs as adults because the instability and heartache of poorly bred dogs pushed as “you can fine purebred in rescue” ruined them to rescue dogs and rescue doesn’t emphasize responsible adopt OR shop so they didn’t feel there was another option. With some a well bred dog actually brought them BACK into dogs which led them back to rescue, but more responsibly and safely….

    If you are anti dog (and often anti human…) be “adopt don’t shop”

    If you are pro dog and pro responible ownership be “Adopt OR Shop” responsibly


    1. Stella

      Firstly, thank you for your work in rescue. I understand how your life circumstances led you to rescue. My family’s first dog was from a backyard breeder back in the 80’s before “adopt don’t shop” was even a thing. And now I’ve been volunteering/fostering with shelters and rescues for almost 20 years. However, just because some people start with a purchased dog, that doesn’t mean it will lead them to rescue. And just because someone starts out with a challenging rescue dog doesn’t mean they’ll give up on rescue for their next dog. It’s simply better to start someone out by rescuing in the first place.
      There are too many irresponsible breeders and way too many dogs in need of permanent homes, period.

      Well bred dogs DO end up in shelters and rescues. Dogs don’t just end up in shelters because of bad behavior due to poor breeding. There’s an influx of Siberian Huskies in Southern California shelters right now. Do you think people are buying them to pull sleds? Obviously, not. The MAJORITY of purebred dogs are NOT used as working dogs. Siberian Huskies are an intelligent, mischievous and high energy breed. They are being given up for those very reasons. People are buying them and don’t fully understand how much training, exercise and high fencing they need until they’re adults exhibiting the behavior they were bred to have. Also, some breeds aren’t working dogs. A small mixed breed from a shelter can be as good as or better a companion dog than a Shih Tzu.

      Let’s also not forget that dogs are still individuals. I worked with a dog savvy person who spent thousands of dollars on a Golden Retriever from a reputable breeder. He ended up being very untrustworthy with people and dog aggressive. His behavior wasn’t due to upbringing and none of the breeder’s other dogs had ever displayed any type of aggression towards people. And that is just one example.

      I understand if someone needs a purebred as a working dog or even an elite show dog to keep that breed in existence. But if someone is buying a purebred just for looks or personality (which isn’t a guarantee), I’d rather they not get a dog at all. Because these are the majority of people buying dogs. They generally don’t care to find a responsible breeder which means they also aren’t doing enough breed research, aren’t properly caring for the dog and aren’t providing adequate training for the dog. This majority doesn’t care about rescue and their experiences won’t lead them there.

      “Adopt don’t shop” is a great way to help spread the word about the importance of rescue. The popularity of the adopt don’t shop mantra does more good than harm.
      There will never be a world without dogs just because of rescues promoting adoption and spay/neuter. That is a gross exaggeration and saying it is irresponsible.

      P.S. You should be ashamed for talking about mixed breeds and rescue dogs like they’re ill behaved rejects that are inferior to well bred purebreds. And you don’t need a well bred dog to be successful at rescue. In fact, you don’t need any dog at all to successfully rehab or raise a rescue dog.


    1. Stella

      Obviously, you don’t care about animals, but some people do. It’s about doing the right thing. Go volunteer at a shelter for a few weeks. I’m sure you’ll change your mind…unless you have no soul.


      1. Mike

        Well considering people are not truly rescuing there dog. I’m sure you didn’t save your dog from drowning in a river. And in most cases rescues charge more than breeders


      1. Stella

        Mike – I rescued my dogs from being euthanized, so there isn’t much of a difference.Most legitimate breeders sell dogs for more than rescue adoption fees. And I’m not sure why it’s a problem if rescues charge more than breeders. They don’t charge for profit. It’s to cover the costs of caring for the animals. You pretty much don’t know what you’re talking about, so just shhhhhhhh.


  3. It hurts me when friends emotionally buy from shelters and rescues with no thought to whether the breed(s) is suitable for their lifestyle, and knowing nothing about the dog’s temperament and background. Sadly many get recycled through the rescue system because the rescue-only mentality is stronger than the wisdom to research and buy responsibly (whether from a rescue/shelter or a breeder). Adopting IS shopping, except that adopt shopping is often done with very little thought about the long term.


    1. Stella

      Obviously, you don’t care about animals, but some people do. It’s about doing the right thing. Go volunteer at a shelter for a few weeks. I’m sure you’ll change your mind…unless you have no soul.


      1. Aylen

        Irresponsible ownership is a problem. However, adopting is NOT shopping. Do you think that adding new dogs to the system instead of some being recycled through is better? Rescues screen applicants, do home checks and require contracts. They select the right owner for each and every dog. And if things don’t work out, the adopter is required to return the dog to the rescue. The majority of backyard breeders don’t do any of these things.


    2. Anne Jackson

      You don’t think that people buy purebreds from breeders based on emotion? I know many people who buy a dog from a breeder that is totally unsuitable for them, and they’re buying them “because they’re cute” (100% emotion). I run a dog rescue, and I make sure that every one of my adopters are not adopting based solely on emotion, they know everything about the temperament of the dog, and we jointly make sure that this dog fits their lifestyle.


  4. Amanda Johanna Grefski

    There are national databases that will direct you to a dog that will fit the “profile” you’re looking for. It’s impossible that throughout the entire United States there wasn’t one shelter dog that fit what you were looking for.
    It just takes a little more time and effort. Also, maybe a plane ride or a drive to get your dog–all of which will probably cost the same as (or less than!) buying a purebred dog from a breeder, but with the satisfaction that you’ll be saving a life.


  5. Jennifer Royce

    I tried to adopt dogs. I wanted a small, active dog under a year old. I train and compete in agility and I was looking for a dog that needed training and needed a job.

    But… I work full time out of the house. I was not approved for this kind of dog. I was offered older dogs who were less active.

    I’m sure those dogs they offered were lovely. But they were not what I was looking for at all. I know what I want in a dog just as much as rescues know what they want as a placement. There was no match.

    So I have 3 lovely shelties from a breeder who took the time to listen to me, and chose dogs that would suit me. They are all active, happy, and well cared for. If anything ever happens to me, they will be welcomed back at the breeder. It’s in the contract that they go back to her. That’s what good breeders do.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Deb Shelter Volunteer

      I’ve been volunteering in rescue and at a high intake shelter for over 12 years and I’m sorry but your account just doesn’t ring true. In fact young dogs around 1 year old frequently come into the shelter for exactly the characteristics you seemed to be desiring- energy, youthful exuberance and a need of training or a job. These dog were generally adopted as puppies and now at 7-11 months the adopter decided they’re too much trouble. Also most rescues I know would be delighted with an adopter who works from home vs one that’s away for 10 hours a day. I have to say, respectfully, the fact that you chose 3 purebred shelties (yes we don’t get them often at the shelter) tells me you probably had your heart set on that breed of dog, not that you couldn’t find a mixed breed or other breed equivalent. A friend of mine is a trainer and a shelter/rescue volunteer and competes in agility with her dogs. She found 3 including a purebred that she loves and has won medals with. She just took her time and waited for the right ones. But adopting was paramount to her and clearly it’s low on the list for you (c’mon on you know it’s true).

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Michelle

      Let me start by saying I have 2 dogs breed specific and one shelter baby. All three were selected for our home and what we wanted. I enjoy training puppies because I can get them to behave in our home from the beginning. Our shelter one just showed up on a local shelters website and since it said high energy and lives other dogs- we went to see if he’d fit our family. His first year was stained as it seemed this had been his second turn in to the shelter. However as we worked with him and our GSD he’s an active gentle soul.
      I will not apologize for my decisions. They are family members of my family.
      I understand their are many shelter animals that are amazing- however; many do want a specific breed and know that comes along with that breed.
      You are told over and over to do your research and make sure your able to handle the characteristics of specific dogs. If you do a good job with that you don’t have to worry about someday being one of those people who bought a puppy and couldn’t deal with the behavior of the dog and thus placing that poor creature in a shelter
      I couldn’t care less if it hurts your feelings. You’re not part of my family and my family members will stay my family members until the day they go over that rainbow bridge.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Janet

      I have a friend that is a trainer with two rescue dogs that are trained and go everywhere with her. That was her solution. Could work for you if you want it too.


      1. N E Mouse

        Picking a dog from a rescue ad across the nation from you is buying on looks alone. Sometimes even less than that. I’m not sure how the breed(s) are picked in the petfinder, etc descriptions. Then that breed(s), that it obviously isn’t, is used to describe expected behaviors. A Newfoundland that weighs 25 pounds. A Scottie that weighs 100 pounds. A Chihuahua mix is labeled a Giant Schnauzer.

        For *my* needs I must have a dog that is calm in the house, yet one that is ready to go when I am. It must be over a certain size. It must be intelligent AND easy to train (not the same thing). Not brachiocephalic, not extreme in anything. Not a dog that needs to be touching all the time yet is always aware of me. Coat length is irrelevant. I found a *breed* that ticks all my boxes without any exaggeration.
        I found my match. Some dogs obviously not of this breed are listed on petfinders with the behavior profile of my breed. No, no, no. That does NOT help.


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