It is preferable to buy a pet from a breeder than from a shelter
I wholeheartedly agree with the above statement. My opponent will be Con.
Please be respectful.
If citing statistics, please list sources.
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Acceptance and arguments.
Refutations and arguments
Refutations of refutations
I look forward to an interesting debate.
I thank my opponent for proposing such an important debate topic. I look forward to hearing her arguments in support of her resolution.
1.) Buying a pet from a shelter means that you have no idea where it came from. It could have come into contact with any number of diseases, and could have a myriad of temperament issues. You don't know whether or not it was abused, or has been bred (and/or raised) to be aggressive, skittish, or over-protective, as is the case with some dogs. (Pit Bulls come to mind.)
Most shelter animals are mixes, which means that you have no idea what kinds of diseases it may be prone to. It is common knowledge that Persian cats have breathing issues (due to their characteristically small, squished-in noses) and that German Shepherds have hip problems. But when you buy a mixed breed, you don't know what to look for.
Furthermore, a reputable breeder will provide you with a medical history of the animal they are selling you. You are paying not just for an animal, but for the knowledge that your pet comes from a stable, loving home and has had the best medical care that the breeder can provide. You will know which vaccinations your pet has received, what diseases it may be prone to (if any), and the breeder will be able to tell you exactly what kind of personality a kitten or puppy may develop as it grows up.
You will see, first-hand, what kind of lives the animals live.
You will get to know the animal's parents, and a breeder can tell you about all about the animal's heritage, going at least as far back as the last four generations.
2.) Furthermore, when you buy an animal from a shelter, you're buying right then and there. You see an animal, and you take it home. But with a breeder, you have the option of multiple visits. You can make an informed decision based on your accumulative experiences with the individual animal you're considering buying, rather than simply looking at it once and reading about it on a piece of paper.
3.) Also, breeders are, in general, more attached to the animals that they themselves brought into the world. They treat their animals like children, feeding them the best quality food that they can afford, and lavishing them with toys, affection, and quality care.
Shelters, on the other hand, operate like a business. Each animal lives in it's own tiny prison cell, waiting to be taken home. And if too much time passes, some shelters simply put them down. Even animals that are in perfect health are killed simply because they are too old, and are less desirable than kittens.
I, for one, could never bring myself to condone such a practice- and I believe that purchasing a pet from a shelter does just that. A reputable breeder would never dream of needlessly slaying an animal that they brought into the world. A reputable
breeder never breeds more animals than they can realistically keep, and therefore doesn't need to "make room" for new kittens.
4.) I'd like to also point out, that most breeders are willing, and actually prefer, to take their animal back in the event that your circumstances change and you can no longer keep it. While you could do the same with shelters, there is always the risk that the animal would later be put down. How anyone does this guilt-free is beyond me.
MY ARGUMENTS SO FAR CAN APPLY TO BOTH PET AND SHOW-QUALITY ANIMALS. NOW I'D LIKE TO FOCUS ON THE LATTER.
5.) First, I'd like to point out that, though it's sometimes looked-down upon as being "snobby" or "elitist", dog and cat shows can be a fulfilling and rewarding hobby, not just for pet owners, but also for the animals themselves.
Dogs in particular love the attention and the adventure of socializing with other animals and spending quality time with their owners. This hobby strengthens the bond between people and pets, and for some, is a worthwhile pastime.
6.) The entire purpose of cat and dog shows is to ensure that the healthiest, most well-rounded and well-behaved animals pass on their genes to the next generation. An animal that consistently wins will be bred more often as a Stud or Queen.
Animals who are less desirable, more violent, or prone to health problems are disqualified and spayed/neutered. This ensures that with each generation, the species as a whole is consistently getting better and better. Breeders are working tirelessly, constantly, to fix the health problems of previous generations.
Breeders are more than just animal lovers- they are geneticists.
I look forward to my opponent's refutations, as well as his arguments.
I thank my opponent for allowing me to participate in the debate of such import. I will save any rebuttals til round three in accordance witthe format.
Stipulations, Concessions and Definitions
I am willing to stipulate that, by breeder, Pro means a reputable breeded as opposed to puppy mills. I think we can both agree that puppy mills are both abhorent and cruel.
I am willing to concede that, if one looks at an animal as an investment, then investing with a reputable breeder is the better choice. However, investing in a competition animal does not fit the definition of buying a pet. A pet is not for competition, but for companionship.
1. any domesticated or tamed animal that is kept as a companion and cared for affectionately.
For those seeking to share their lives with a pet, there are overwhelming reasons to select their new companion from a shelter
1. Humane Solution
There are so many animals already alive that need loving homes that it is much more humane to bring one home from a shelter than to pay someone to bring more into the world.
2. Hybrid Vigor
Genetic inferiority is naturally reduced through heterosis. Though it is a charicature, the genetic inferiority of inbred hillbillies has a basis in truth. Inbreeding reinforces not only the desirable traits in a breed, it also reinforces the undesirable traits. Mutts live longer, more vigorous lives.
The cost of a shelter pet is minimal in comparison to a bred animal. As a matter of fact, the shelter where I got my cats gave me a refund of all but ten dollars when I brought back proof from my veterinarian that the animal was neutered and had its shots.
4. Population Control
The fourth argument is related to my first argument and my basis for the third argument, and that is population control. Most animal shelters either neuter the animals or require neutering as a prerequisite of adoption. This helps to ensure that there will be less unwanted animals in the future. Though there are a tremendous number of no-kill shelters in the country, there are still shelters that have a policy of putting down unwanted animals.
Neutering animals reduces the need to put down any animal. On the contray, breeders increase the amount of animals in the world and they generally do it on spec, meaning they have to sell the animals to make their busines profitable. And make no mistake, breeding is a business. It is done for money. Rescue shelters are non-profit or not-for-profit. They are done for love of the animals.
The personality of my pets are my favorite aspect of sharing my life with them. The strength of personality is as varied as the genetic background of the animal, and also benefits from heterosis. Even with hybrid animals, major genetic characteristics shine through, so it is easy enough to select a pet based on expected personality traits.
6. Genetic background can be discerned
Finally, for those who want to know the genetic background of their animal, it is easy to determine with a simple cheek swab sent in to a lab.
I look forward to my opponents rebuttals and additional supporting arguments.
"I am willing to concede that, if one looks at an animal as an investment, then investing with a reputable breeder is the better choice. However, investing in a competition animal does not fit the definition of buying a pet. A pet is not for competition, but for companionship."
I would argue that buying a pet is also an investment. It's an emotional investment.
"There are so many animals already alive that need loving homes that it is much more humane to bring one home from a shelter than to pay someone to bring more into the world."
At first glance, I would agree with you. On an individual level, you'd be right. But breeding isn't about the individual. It's about the breed. I think it's more humane towards future generations to ensure that they have the best genes possible. This minimizes suffering later on by ensuring that they are free of disease.
"Inbreeding reinforces not only the desirable traits in a breed, it also reinforces the undesirable traits."
The entire purpose of breeding to do away with these traits. It is a slow process, as evolution always is, but the breed is improved with each new generation.
"The cost of a shelter pet is minimal in comparison to a bred animal."
Now, if you're lucky enough to have purchased an animal free of disease, then you are correct. The cost is much lower than buying from a breeder. But there are reasons that breeders cost so much:
a. When purchasing a pet from a breeder, you are not only paying for the knowledge that the animal is pedigree. You're also paying for a pet that has already been spayed/neutered, has all of it's shots up to date, and is guaranteed free of genetic disease.
b. Breeders invest a lot of time, money, and emotion into their animals. When they give you the animal that they raised as a baby, they want to be sure that it will continue to receive the best care possible. The logic here is that, if you can afford to buy the pet initially, then you can afford to feed it, too. And as it grows up, you can afford to take it to the vet for shots. And if something happens, you can afford to take care of that as well.
c. Another reason that breeders charge so much money is that, by giving it a high monetary value, pet owners will be more willing to take it to the vet if needed. As I said before, when you make a purchase, you are making an investment whether you profit financially or not.
Furthermore, in the long run you could end up paying much more than a breeder would charge you. For instance, say that I buy a pet-quality Bengal (since we are both avid cat-lovers.) This is an exotic breed, so for the sake of argument, let's say that I'm spending $700 on a cat. He has all of his shots, and is pet-quality.
Now let's say that I buy a mixed cat from a shelter. Let's go with a Persian, because I like fluffy things. Now, when I say "Persian" I mean that he looks like a Persian. He could be any number of things, but that squished nose is unmistakable. He costs about $150 
But, because I don't know what else he is, I have him tested. This costs another $70. 
Turns out Mr. Fluffy here is a Burman, Maine Coon, Persian and Scottish fold.
This means that you have to screen for: 
2.Feline infectious peritonitis
3.Feline leukocyte antigen DRB restricted polymorphism
And that's just because he's part Burmese. You also have to screen for...
8.Laminin alpha2 deficiency
13.Progressive retinal atrophy
Now let's say he's clean of genetic disease. Yay! However, it costs anywhere from $60 to $400 to screen for a single disease. Even if you choose the cheapest possible, you still have to pay that amount fourteen times. This process alone has already cost you more than a breeder would. And your cat isn't even sick!
Now let's say, that you chose not to screen for disease. If he ends up sick, your vet gets to play a guessing game, taking shots in the dark in the hopes that he can discover what's wrong with Mr. Fluffy.
Depending on the severity of his symptoms and the body part in question, you may or may not need to see a specialist. You may even need to see multiple specialists, because you can't pinpoint exactly what part of Mr. Fluffy is malfunctioning.
Let's say that one day, Mr. Fluffy goes potty, and there's a bit of blood in his urine. The next day, the same problem reoccurs. So you take him to the vet. The vet says, (without really looking at him- that costs extra) that it's a common UTI, and gives Mr. Fluffy antibiotics. The problem continues, and you start talking to different vets. Each of these vet visits cost about $50- which doesn't sound like much, but after the third or fourth time, it begins to add up.
This is, of course, assuming that you have time to take him to multiple vets. The true story that Mr. Fluffy is based on ends in tragedy. He died less than a month after he was taken to a loving home, due to the fact that the shelter had neutered him too young. The procedure was done incorrectly.
I'm sure the professionals working on him had the best intentions; A shelter's job is to have these cats and dogs adopted as soon as possible, and if that means neutering a 1-year-old kitten, then the ends justify the means.
The vets had no way of knowing from the symptoms that it was anything other than your average UTI. Considering his age, and the uncertaint of exactly when he was neutered, the possibility probably did not even occur to most of them.
It was only in retrospect, and due to my friend's experience as a breeder that she was able to pinpoint the cause.
And I say with utmost certainty and conviction that this would never have happened had Mr. Fluffy been born to a breeder.
"On the contrary, breeders increase the amount of animals in the world and they generally do it on spec, meaning they have to sell the animals to make their business profitable. And make no mistake, breeding is a business. It is done for money."
While I would never argue that there are no people in the world who breed for profit, I will note that there are many who do not do it for profit, but simply wish to better their favorite breed. These people who do it as a hobby, who wish only to make a positive impact in the world. These people are lucky if they financially break even.
Breeders who are in it for the money are in the wrong business. The only way to make a profit is to become a mill- and we both agree that those are abhorrent (and off-topic).
I hate to say it, but I find your statement to be a caricature of breeders. Having personally known three, and wanting to become one myself, I can say with total certainty that reputable, well-meaning breeders exist. These are the ones I am defending.
Any pet-quality pedigree is spayed or neutered. Overpopulation is a serious issue, but the problem isn't breeders. It's careless pet owners who are too lazy to take their pet to a vet. I would even say that breeders are part of the solution by making the next generation of pets more desirable.
"Even with hybrid animals, major genetic characteristics shine through, so it is easy enough to select a pet based on expected personality traits."
Actually, the more mixed a breed is, the more difficult it is to know what to expect.
Some people can handle any animal. But most people who purchase a pet do so with a purpose in mind. They want a dog to play with their children. Some people need companion animals.
I think it's important to find an animal that best suits your needs and the best way to do that is through a breeder.
I thank my opponent for the opportunity to see things from her perspective. I have already learned much about some of the reasons why people go to breeders. I would like to take this opportunity to explain why her reasons would not keep me from rescuing my next pet from a shelter.
I have never gotten an animal from a shelter that was not checked for healthiness by a licensed veterinarian. I have, however, gotten a kitten from the police station that had health problems. The kitten had been orphaned at four weeks, and had a wolfworm infection in her neck. Had I not rescued her, she most certainly would have died.
Likewise, I might get an animal that has been abused. My cat, Farley, most certainly had a harrowing youth, and he still is quite skittish. My heart breaks when I see the way he reacts to sudden noises or even quick movements. While I did eventually tame him, and now he will even get up into my lap if I am sitting quietly reading, it was more difficult raising him than some of my other furry friends. But the difficulty to me is nothing in comparison to what his life may have been like if we did not choose to share our home with him.
Granted, rescuing a cat that had been abused is not dangerous to me or local children as, perhaps, rescuing a pit bull from Michael Vick. But even government pounds can identify aggressive animals, and will usually not let them be adopted. Aggression can be either hereditary or environmental. Let us be clear that if a dog has been bred to be aggressive then it is the fault of the geneticist breeder, not the dog. And if a dog is aggressive because he was abused, it is also not his fault.
A dog that is genetically aggressive may or may not be successfully trained against this aggression. If it cannot be trained out of the aggression, it is the breeders who are to blame. Who among us has not had to overcome natural tendencies in order to be the best person they can be? Just because a dog has certain tendencies does not mean it shouldn't get the benefit of good training that can help it overcome them.
A dog that has been trained to be aggressive (or, more likely, became aggressive because of poor training) can always be trained away from this tendency. Like all training, it requires consistent, well researched training. Any dog that one brings into the home needs to have excellent training, or else it can become aggressive. So if one needs to train an animal anyway, then this does not give a good enough reason not to save an animal from the hell it is in that has caused it to be aggressive. On the contrary, if you can train an animal, there is nothing more rewarding than to bring it back from the wild.
The argument that an animal is a mix is not sufficient to cause someone to choose not to rescue an animal. A good checkup at a veterinarian will give a new owner knowledge of the health of their animal, first-hand knowledge of the vaccinations it has received and will need in the future, as well as care and feeding advice. In addition, one has the satisfaction of knowing that the pet will be GOING to a stable, loving home. Certainly that is more important than knowing from where it came. If people would be more concerned with that commitment, there woud be less animals in shelters to begin with.
I concede that being able to visit with the animal and getting to know it is a major plus in choosing a pet. This is not the sole venue of a breeder, however. Many rescue groups (including one with which I was involved while stationed in Oklahoma) do not house their animals in a central facility but rather the animals are housed with volunteers. We were happy to let prospective families come and meet the animals and spend as much time as they wanted getting to know them. It was a win/win situation, because the animals were getting attention they craved and the families were getting to know the animals.
The point that shelter animals live in less than glorious conditions and are often on a timeframe is aptly made. Perhaps it is a matter of preference, but these facts make me more likely to rescue an animal from a shelter. Shelters don't breed these animals. Shelters do their very best with the funds made available to them from the state and local government as well as volunteers and donations to do right by these animals that society has thrown away.
There is no argument that can be made that says one animal is more worthy of a loving home than another by virtue of its breeding. I agree with my opponent that any person makes an emotional commitment (or should) when bringing a pet into the home. The level of that commmitment has nothing to do with the pets pedigree. Mutts are as worthy of our love as thoroughbreds, and those in shelters need it more. As my opponent points out, their very life may depend on it.
Mutts might never win a ribbon, but they will win your heart. If you let them in the race.
My opponent states:
“I might get an animal that has been abused. My cat, Farley, most certainly had a harrowing youth, and he still is quite skittish. My heart breaks when I see the way he reacts to sudden noises or even quick movements. While I did eventually tame him [...] it was more difficult raising him than some of my other furry friends. But the difficulty to me is nothing in comparison to what his life may have been like if we did not choose to share our home with him.”
While I applaud my opponent’s love of animals, I’d also like to point out that many people who adopt animals have other responsibilities. A family with small children, or a couple with lots of friends may not have been such a good fit for Farley. Some people simply do not have the time and patience to tame a feral cat, or train a hyperactive dog.
“Granted, rescuing a cat that had been abused is not dangerous to me or local children as, perhaps, rescuing a pit bull from Michael Vick. But even government pounds can identify aggressive animals, and will usually not let them be adopted.”
Instead of letting these animals be adopted, shelters kill them. This is a practice that I simply cannot condone.
“Aggression can be either hereditary or environmental. Let us be clear that if a dog has been bred to be aggressive then it is the fault of the geneticist breeder, not the dog. And if a dog is aggressive because he was abused, it is also not his fault.”
I agree wholeheartedly, that if a dog is bred to be aggressive, then it is the fault of the breeder. However, a responsible breeder does not aim to breed aggressive animals- and if, by some miscalculation, they do, they do not abandon those animals to shelters.
“A dog that is genetically aggressive may or may not be successfully trained against this aggression. If it cannot be trained out of the aggression, it is the breeders who are to blame. [...] A dog that has been trained to be aggressive (or, more likely, became aggressive because of poor training) can always be trained away from this tendency.”
My opponent contradicted himself here. He was correct in his first statement- sometimes, an animal is too far gone. If an animal reaches this point, where training does nothing to alleviate his fear of humans, or aggressive behavior, then I will concede that in some cases, it may be the breeder’s fault.
“On the contrary, if you can train an animal, there is nothing more rewarding than to bring it back from the wild.”
It is impossible to bring an animal completely back from the wild. Farley may be fine with you (if you are quiet and still enough), but he will never be happy in, for instance, a daycare center.
“A good checkup at a veterinarian will give a new owner knowledge of the health of their animal, first-hand knowledge of the vaccinations it has received and will need in the future, as well as care and feeding advice.”
It doesn’t matter whether you have them checked or not. A veterinarian simply cannot screen for every single genetic disease known to feline kind. There are some diseases for which there is no genetic test- for instance, Black Skin disease, a disease that afflicts Pomeranians (as well as other breeds) and has been linked to kidney disease.
“In addition, one has the satisfaction of knowing that the pet will be GOING to a stable, loving home. Certainly that is more important than knowing from where it came.”
There is nothing wrong with wanting to know the history of your animal. If I bought a dog that belonged to Michael Vick, I’d like to know about it. And a shelter would not be able to tell me.
“If people would be more concerned with that commitment, there would be less animals in shelters to begin with.”
If there were more conscientious pet-owners, there would be less animals in shelters to begin with. I’ve said before, the problem isn’t breeders- it’s pet owners. The only way to stop pets from going to shelters is to ensure that they really do go to good, loving homes.
Shelters don’t ensure this. They do not even try. Literally anyone with $200 in their pocket can buy an animal from a shelter. There is no screening process whatsoever. They do not care where these animals go, or where they end up.
Breeders screen prospective pet owners between the time they say “I want a cat” and the time they take him home. Breeders are selective about who owns their animals, because they truly care about the individuals that they raised from birth.
Furthermore, shelters create a cycle. People buy animals on a whim. Let’s say a puppy. They buy it thinking it’s cute, and don’t take it to the veterinarian. They don’t screen for genetic diseases. And when the puppy turns out to be a mastiff pit-bull mix, they take him back to the shelter, because he isn’t as cute anymore.
My opponent previously mentioned that shelters cost a lot less than breeders. This is a problem. Because these animals cost next to nothing, people buy them on a whim. There are some people, like my opponent, who know what they are getting into and truly love animals.
My opponent’s arguments in the previous round have mainly been emotional. He makes a valid point that animals in shelters are in immediate need.
Furthermore, breeders aren’t only helping individuals. They are helping the entire species, by doing away with genetic disease and ensuring that each and every one of their animals goes to a loving home.
I will concede that shelters are trying to alleviate some of the problems faced with pets today. The problem of pet overpopulation, and the problems of abuse and neglect. But shelters are like a band-aid on a broken bone.
I thank my opponent for her impassioned, albeit narrowly focused, response. My opponent has certainly made some interesting arguments to support her position. And, while it is refreshing to read of someone who has such faith in a group of people, many of her assertions are such broad generalizations that I cannot accept them as valid. She is assigning qualities to an entire set based on her interactions with an extremely small subset. She has, it would seem, had some excellent interactions with the breeders with which she was worked. Indeed, she has had such wonderful experiences that she desires to be a breeder. Certainly she would not think ill of a group of people she wants to join. It is quite understandable and simple human nature to assign certain characteristics to an entire group of people based on the first experiences with a particular member of the set, but it does not make it true.
Second, the assertion that people never buy a purebred puppy on a whim is outlandish at best. That is why there are so many purebreds in shelters. If someone wants a puppy, they won't likely go to a shelter, because shelters have mostly adult animals.
A veterinarian simply cannot screen for every single genetic disease known to feline kind.
Riza_Rosette forfeited this round.
I have shown that there are any number of reasons that it is preferable to rescue an animal from a shelter rather than purchase from a breeder. While I concede that there are a few benefits that breeders can offer that are unavailable at a shelter, I have shown that the majority of them that my opponent has claimed are far from specific to a breeder.
While a breeder knows more about an animals background, there is never a guarantee an animal will not come down with a sickness. You roll the dice either way. However, hybrid vigor is a well known evolutionary trait that is specific to mixed breeds.
Advantage: shelter rescues
Many shelters require neutering of the animal. I have provided sources which say that almost 30% of the animals in shelters are purebred, so intentional breeding increases the number of animals needing homes, many of which become the shelter rescues that my opponent would have you ignore.
Advantage: shelter rescues
Health at time of adoption
Many shelters have veterinarians on staff or who provide veterinary checkups pro bono. Since we are not discussing puppy mills, I am willing to concede my opponents point that breeders provide adequate medical care for their animals. The animals that come from shelters as well as breeders are considered healthy at the time of adoption
Shelter animals have a greater need and provide an opportunity to help
My opponent claims that breeders already provide loving homes for the animals they have brought into the world. At the same time there are animals in your local shelter that desperately need a home or they face euthanasia. Whether this is important depends on the type of person one is. I have great faith in the innate goodness of people who want to get pets, and so I argue that there are few who would not receive an emotional benefit from knowing they have helped an animal in need. However, I am willing to stipulate that there are people in this world that just do not care about the need of those animals and can turn away from them in order to pay for a bred animal. I will claim this advantage, but the voters will, of course, decide for themselves if they think it is an advantage.
Advantage: shelter rescues
My opponent claims that breeders use the cost of the animal to ensure they go to a good home. I argue that money does not equate to morality. Just because someone has money does not mean that they will use that money for their pet. Look at Michael Vick, how much money he had. I, on the other hand, lived on Ramen while I was in college, but my cats always ate Iams. I will always sacrifice for my animals, because they are my responsibility. That has nothing to do with how much money I paid for them. People who rescue animals from shelters, I submit, have big hearts even if they do not have big bank accounts. It is important to them to provide a loving home to an animal that needs it.
Advantage: shelter rescues
If one feels the need to custom make their pet, then purchasing from a breeder is a must, I concede. While there are always pure breeds in a shelter, there are not always every possible breed. However, I argue that the benefits of having a purebred animal are shallow and probably more perceived than actual. Animal personality traits, even if common in a particular breed, are not guaranteed to be in the animal one might choose.
Genetics only goes so far in determining the personality of an animal. Environment is what counts, whether for people or for animals. This country was founded by people who believed that nobility was a matter of character, not of birth. It was our hybrid vigor that was the secret to our greatness, not the narrowness of our family tree.
Advantage: Shelter rescues
I concede there are people who have such a narrow focus in their desire for a pet that buying from a breeder is preferable. But in no way has my opponent shown that it is always preferable for all people. I have shown that, for many if not most, the benefits of rescuing from a shelter are enormous and so it is preferable to all but a few. For this reason I urge the voters to vote Con.
I thank my opponent again for the opportunity to partake in this debate. I have learned much from her, and wish her luck in this and future debates.