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Adopting vs Buying – Taking the right path to dog ownership

Is owning a dog the missing piece in your life? Photo by Adrianna Calvo from Pexels.

Whether you’re buying or adopting, owning a dog is no easy task. So making the correct decision is crucial for the wellbeing of both the dog and yourself, especially during the festive season when the purchasing of dogs tends to increase and can often be an emotional rather than a practical decision.

Dog ownership often involves much more than the romantic idea that is placed in the mind of many when buying their first four legged friend. Gillian Bard from The Dublin Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Ireland’s largest  animal welfare organization, has urged those thinking of buying a dog as a Christmas gift to simply “Don’t! Especially at the moment when there are very few dogs in shelters and people will end up buying” as opposed to adopting.

Bard added that the COVID-19 pandemic has especially increased the number of dog adoption inquiries at this time of year. The festive season also results in an uptick in the number of dog surrenderings by owners who can no longer care for their animals.

The introduction of animal welfare and sales legislation earlier this year, sets a clearer standard for what must be taken into account when involving the sale and breeding of domesticated animals. However, the advice of the DSPCA is still “Don’t unless you know the breeder or they have come very highly recommended and foster to see if a dog is really for you”. 

The animal welfare charity, Dogstrust Ireland, are currently running a campaign called ‘Sold a Pup’ in the lead up to Christmas to highlight the cruelty and suffering of the sale of illegal dogs in Ireland.

The increase in dog ownership has been a silver lining for dog owners. As we continue to spend more time indoors, the ownership of a dog or other house pets has become much more of a reality for some. It has also resulted in an increase in spending on dog toys. For pet shop owners this is a bonus but in reality it is something else that must be factored into the cost of owning a dog along with     potential vet bills, food, medicines and any other form of care that an animal may need.

If you do decide to take the plunge into the world of dog ownership and you find yourself in  both  the fortunate and unfortunate position of a local shelter being empty Bard says at the very least remember that “there really is no such thing as an ethical breeder or if there are they are very rare. Really good and caring breeders will be difficult to find as they breed so rarely and have huge waiting lists. Assume any dog you buy has come from a “Puppy Farm” that is a registered breeding establishment but some of these are registered for over 500 breeding females!” she adds, “Is that the right conditions to raise puppies?”

But having a shortage of adoptable dogs at the DSPCA and other shelters located across Ireland is one positive of working from home and lock-downs and has actually come as a result of owners who have more time to spend with their animals and  “started looking after them [the dogs] and they have not been abandoned or cruelly treated as much”,  as they once might have been,  according to Bard

It’s vital to remember, a dog isn’t just for Christmas or a birthday (pardon the cliche) and the life and longevity of the dog depends solely on the owner, much like a small child. Factor in every aspect from owning a dog now during the pandemic whilst everyone is mostly at home all the time to a year from now when (hopefully) the world is back to some form of normality. If it doesn’t seem possible, then it’s probably better for both the dog and yourself.

Some resources to consider when considering owning a dog can be found below:

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