I have shared much of my life with many dogs, cats, and even rabbits. Each one of them was a beloved family member, unique with a distinct personality. You might be surprised to learn that some of these pets were purchased from a breeder or pet store. At the time, I didn’t know that puppy mills bred dogs for bred dogs for profit, contributing to pet overpopulation. These days, I live by the slogan “Adopt don’t shop” which encourages people to adopt animals from animal shelters and rescues rather than purchasing pets from breeders or puppy mills.

Suzana Gartner

Suzana Gartner

There are many reasons that you should adopt, not shop when looking for a pet. First of all, purchasing pets from breeders or puppy mills contributes to pet overpopulation. There are millions of homeless animals in shelters that get euthanized for lack of a home. This is a preventable tragedy. The number of animals euthanized would be dramatically reduced if people adopted animals from shelters instead of buying them. Secondly, purchasing puppies from breeders, pet stores, or online supports puppy mills. Puppy mills often cram dogs into small cages, forcing them to breed as much as possible so that the breeder can get the most amount of money selling puppies. Sadly, when the dogs can no longer breed, they are often discarded because they no longer profit the mill industry. Dogs in puppy mills are viewed as commodities rather than living beings. Thirdly, each time a dog is bought, the dog in a shelter loses their chance of finding a loving home.

Another reason to “adopt, not shop” is to save money and time. Shelter or rescue dogs often cost far less and are sometimes even trained by prior owners or shelter staff. On the other hand, people that purchase pets often spend thousands of dollars to get a pure-breed dog, spending even more money to train that pup. Some people want a certain breed of dog and that is the reason they purchase them from breeders. I am happy to inform them there are plenty of rescues and shelters with various breeds and with patience and effort, they can find the perfect pet.

Dogs aren’t the only species of animals exploited by breeders who profit from selling animals. Horses, rabbits, parrots, turtles, etc. are also bred and treated as commodities. There are millions of homeless cats and dogs on the street and shelters are full of animals that need homes, yet there are still people breeding them. There will be fewer homeless animals if more people adopt, not shop for their next furry family member. By not supporting and funding breeding industries, you can save lives. Every animal deserves to be in a loving home. My dream is that someday, shelters will be empty! In my new book, A Voice for Animals, I discuss more ways that people can help homeless animals and reasons to adopt, not shop for their next furry friend. I show readers that shelter animals are worthy of love and affection. They deserve a second chance.

Our most recent furry family member is a German Shepherd mix breed puppy named Oakley. I met him by chance at the shelter where I volunteer. He captured my heart. Taking Oakley out of the shelter makes room for another dog to find temporary placement and wait to be adopted. Oakley is as worthy of love as any “designer dog.” I am proud to share that he was adopted from an animal shelter!

The Author & Animal Lover

Suzana Gartner, J.D., LL.M. (ADR) is an animal advocate, animal law expert, mediator, retired animal rights lawyer, vegan, cruelty-free working mom and an author who is giving a voice and hope to animals by educating families, children, groups, organizations, communities and more. She currently serves as the Executive Director of Operations and Programs at the Etobicoke Humane Society.

Suzana completed her Master of Laws degree in Alternative Dispute Resolution. Her thesis titled, ‘Reducing Euthanasia in Animal Shelters,’ focused on improving the situation for shelter animals using collaboration, community, and consensus. In 2014, she launched the first animal law firm and mediation practice in Canada: Gartner & Associates Animal Law and practiced animal law for several years.

Suzana is committed to give a voice to animals and advance animal rights. She has volunteered at animal shelters since childhood. She speaks publicly on animal issues and has been interviewed on national news, radio, and podcasts and has been featured in print magazines. She served as the past Chair of the Ontario Bar Association’s Animal Law Section and serves on the board of advisors for Animal Justice, Canada’s largest animal charity.

She continues to pursue her passion as an animal advocate and visits animal rescues and sanctuaries. In her spare time, Suzana loves to spend time with her family, which includes her husband and their two teenagers and furry babies.

For more information visit suzanagartner.com follow on LinkedIn and Instagram.

The Book A Voice For Animals

Her book, A Voice for Animals, is an insightful and informative book about the deep emotional bond that humans share with animals including the connections and relationships with their beloved pets. It also sheds light on other issues affecting animals such as homeless pets in shelters and animal cruelty, including the mistreatment of companion animals, as well as other animal species in farming and food industries and the endangerment of wildlife. It empowers readers with practical tools on finding ways to get involved for positive changes as they are inspired to be a voice for animals.

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