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How to buy a dog: DON'T! Part 2 of 3

mixed breed dog being petted

But I want a specific breed!

Can’t find your favorite breed at the local shelter? GOOD! That’s what success looks like. Fewer of your favorite dogs are suffering and dying due to homelessness. Be happy about that. But don’t let it drive you to buy a purebred from a breeder.

Things have been gradually improving for homeless animals in the U.S., due to decades of hard work by animal advocates, the increasing acceptance of spay/neuter, and billions of dollars donated, and billions of tax dollars spent by the government, to deal with this problem. Most other countries aren’t lucky enough to have these kinds of resources.

But with the number of dogs being abandoned every year in the U.S., you can probably still find the specific dog breed you’re looking for, WITHOUT buying from a breeder. In fact, it's estimated that up to 25% of dogs in shelters are purebreds, and there are many, many breed-specific rescue groups.

At municipal (government-funded) shelters, you can be 100% sure that you are doing a good thing – adopting a dog who desperately needs a home. The adoption process is usually simple. These shelters usually have names like [Something] County Animal Shelter.”

You can find a puppy if that’s what you really want, but there are advantages to getting a dog who is a little older than that. For one thing, they may already be potty-trained!

Also, shelter dogs over a year old have usually already been through their destructive “teething” stage. That happens when they’re a few months old, and they can destroy your furniture (if you didn’t know you need to puppy-proof your home) because they need to chew. Some of us learned that the hard way!

You’ll also know how big they are when fully grown, because they’re already finished growing.

What’s a rescue group?

If you don’t find the perfect dog at your local shelter, there are many private rescue groups, who use adoption fees to save more homeless animals, so they are the good guys! They have names like “Wagging Tails and Happy Feet Rescue” and will have a website and proof that they are a 501c3 nonprofit organization.

adorable dog being petted

They often focus on a particular breed and mixes of that breed. Check out reputable sites like Petfinder and Adopt a Pet, where you’ll see a huge listing of homeless animals in need of homes, and you can adopt them in your local area.

And if there are so few dogs needing help nearby that your local rescue group transports homeless dogs from a high-kill shelter in another state into your state, congratulations! You live in a state that’s getting it together!

By the way, only a few years ago, this kind of cooperation between government-funded shelters and local rescue groups was unheard of. Cooperation between rescue groups in different states was rare. Long-distance transport was unreliable. Things in the U.S. have improved, thanks to the tireless efforts of rescuers!

Adopting a dog from a rescue group has a number of advantages. Sometimes it means you’ll have the advice and support of the rescue group for life. For example, if for some reason you can’t keep your dog forever, they usually want the dog back, because they truly care about each dog.

Since they often keep the dogs in temporary foster homes, they usually have a good idea of the dog’s behavior and can tell you about that before you decide to adopt.

They may be happy to have you “try out” the dog at your home before you commit to adopting.

happy dog running

Some people become impatient with rescue groups because the adoption process is usually more complicated than at the government-funded shelter. It’s designed to find out if the dog is a good fit for your situation. They have invested time, love, and money in each animal, and they want to ensure that the dog has a good home, not just any home.

These groups are run by private individuals who have no obligation to give you a dog. Their adoption fees are usually higher than at a government-funded shelter, and they sometimes have spent a lot of money on vet bills just to save one animal’s life. But the adoption fee is still much lower than buying from a breeder or pet store, and the adoption fee goes toward saving another dog’s life.

Try to find a rescue group you like. You may even end up volunteering or fostering for them!

A note of caution: if you see a “rescue group” that has a lot of young purebred puppies available for high prices, that is probably not a legitimate rescue group, but a breeder pretending to be a rescue group. Legitimate rescue groups usually have a large number of adult dogs. They rarely have young purebred puppies, though they may have mixed-breed puppies. If you don’t know how to identify a legitimate rescue group, ask a friend with some experience with this.

beautiful cat

One more possibly confusing but good trend: some pet stores that used to sell puppies and kittens are now on board with “adopt, don’t shop” for dogs and

cats. They allow rescue groups to come to the stores and hold adoption events, especially on weekends. The rescue group will have its own name different from the store name. The group’s volunteers will usually be there with dogs and cats available for adoption. You’ll still need to go through the group’s adoption process – you won’t be able to just pay on the spot. These groups are legit, and this is another good way to find a dog or cat who desperately needs a home!


Our Mission

rescued stray dog
Autumn, one of our rescued Pilot Pups!

The mission of 600 Million Dogs is to bring a permanent end to global pet

overpopulation, end the Cycle of Suffering for 1 billion strays and prevent the deaths of over 30,000 children who die from rabies each year. ​


By using cutting-edge science to develop the Spay and Neuter Cookie.

Once completed, the Cookies will be capable of spaying and neutering – without surgery.

Please visit the rest of our website to learn more!


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