Buying a dog encourages puppy mills
I will be honest, I have purchased previous dogs I've owned because I was ignorant about how they ended up in the pet store to begin with. I mistakenly thought store-bought dogs were less likely to have health problems down the line, and if someone's gotta buy the puppy, might as well be me, for I can guarantee it will have a safe, loving home.
Then I did a little research and realized how buying a dog contributes to a truly terrible cycle.
In handing over money to a pet store in exchange for a dog, you are essentially encouraging them to continuously acquire more dogs from many inhumane puppy mills in order to turn a profit. These puppy mill breeders are not necessarily licensed, and are not looking out for the dogs' best interests when they keep them in extremely poor conditions and cramped cages, just so they can create more puppies to make money from. Many dogs are not properly cared for and are continuously impregnated just for the purpose of birthing puppies. Cruel and careless practices mean many dogs are born with defects, health and behavioral problems that may not be apparent until they get older.
The only way to discourage such puppy mills is to not buy dogs. If there is no market for puppies, puppy mills cannot benefit by forcing dogs to make more, and they will abandon the practice.
What happens to the dogs in stores though? Well, the truth is many will be used to breed more puppies, or inhumanely killed. However, please don't think that by purchasing a dog you are doing dogs any favors. In saving one life you are probably hurting countless more by encouraging people to continue the practice of forcing more puppies into the world. Instead, appeal to local authorities and politicians to implement laws that will crack down on these awful people who treat animals so barbarically.
If unsold pet store dogs are lucky, they may be sent to pet shelters where they will hopefully be adopted. This just goes to show that dogs in pet stores are not necessarily of "better quality" than those you could find in adoption centers. It may seem like many dogs in pet stores look cuter and healthier, but if you dress up anything nicely in a shop window it will seem more appealing. Think of it like seeing a beautiful Gucci purse in a display case and the same one on eBay. One looks much nicer than the other, but it's the same purse.
I know sometimes it's difficult to walk by those pleading puppy eyes in a pet store and resist that temptation to hand over some cash so you can take it home. But you can help be a part of the solution to the end of inhumane puppy mills by not giving in, and hoping that if that dog is put up for adoption instead, someone kind like you will be the one to give it a nice home.
From a purely financial perspective, adopting a dog is cheaper. Notice I did not say adopting a dog is free, like many people think. If you're lucky to find a shelter or adoption center that will let you take a dog home for free, that's great. But in many cases there will be a small fee to cover the dog's vaccinations and care for the time it has been at the shelter, which can be a few hundred dollars.
This may sound off-putting to some of you, but just think about it, would you rather give less money to an organization that is about rescuing and saving animals, or more money to a pet store that in turn probably encourages the inhumane practice of puppy mills?
You won't have to worry too much about adopting a dog with major health or behavior problems either. If you have concerns or requirements regarding adopting a dog, simply tell the shelter, and they will do their best to accommodate you. Unlike pet stores, many adoption centers make sure their dogs are actually ready to be adopted, and will try to match them to homes that are the most suitable for them.
Dogs that aren't rescued are put down
This goes without saying. Thousands upon thousands of abandoned or neglected dogs are waiting for homes in shelters, and sometimes there is simply not enough space, money and manpower to handle them all. This means after awhile they need to be put down. So if you're thinking of getting a dog, visit your local animal shelter to see who needs a home. And at some point you — like many before you — will lock eyes with one dog, feel that tug in your heart, and you will say, "This is the one."