Adopt Don’t Shop


Article appeared on PETA Prime on October 27, 2014. 

By Miriam Porter

One day, pet stores around the world will stop breeding and selling animals because it’s a cruel and horrible industry. But until that day comes, those of us who love animals will hopefully continue to raise awareness of animal exploitation. We can speak up for animal welfare, and when it comes to adding a new nonhuman member to the family—adopt, don’t shop!

Pet stores acquire their most profitable animals from puppy and kitten mills, whose principal goal is making as much money as possible.

These mills are truly horrendous places that force animals to breed, maintain horrible living conditions, and abuse animals with many awful practices, including tail-docking and ear-cropping. Thousands of animals also die before they even reach the pet store because of the dreadful methods of transportation. When cats and dogs are purchased from pet stores, it directly funds these puppy and kitten mills.

Pet stores are also known for selling exotic and small animals—including hamsters, gerbils, turtles, snakes, rabbits, guinea pigs, fish, and birds—who often arrive in terrible shape from all around the world.

Small local breeders, while they may treat their animals better, are still contributing to the problem of animal overpopulation, because every time a breeder animal is purchased (usually for an outrageous fee), a homeless or shelter animal could have been saved instead. Once breeders sell a puppy or kitten, they will simply replace him or her with another. It’s a never-ending cycle. There are thousands of unwanted dogs and cats who are desperate for a loving home, so there is no need to keep breeding them.

The good news is that awareness is being raised of the horrors of pet stores, and people are also making compassionate choices when it comes to welcoming a new animal into their home. The importance of spaying and neutering animals in order to control pet overpopulation is also being recognized more widely.

Cat and dog adopt-a-thons, spay-and-neuter clinics, and foster families are all crucial to this recognition. Equally important are the advocates speaking out to change current policies.

In my hometown of Toronto, it is now illegal to sell or purchase a cat or dog at a pet store unless the animal is homeless or from a shelter. Yes, you heard me correctly! It was a huge win for homeless cats and dogs around the city when this bylaw went into effect in September 2011, and I bet paws would have been “high-fiving” if the animals had known about this victory.

CTV News announced that “[p]uppies and kittens sold in Toronto pet stores must come from shelters, humane societies or rescue groups, city council decided on Wednesday. Council voted unanimously to institute the changes that aim to keep stores from selling animals from puppy or kitten mills.”

Even so, in 2012, I caught a pet store still selling $1,000 breeder kittens—but I’m happy to report that it was given a warning by the city and has since shut its doors forever.

This summer, my son Noah and I walked to a local pet supply retailer to get food and bedding for our own adopted furry family.

Noah and 3 petsNoah with furry family members

Cole, the “black panther” born on the streets of Hollywood, was my loyal companion for almost 18 years. (Sadly, he passed away in June.) Jasper, the orange feline lion, came to live with us when his mother had a litter of kittens under someone’s porch in downtown Toronto. He is 13 now and a happy member of our family. Noah and I also rescued two hamsters, Fluffy and Hope (the three-legged wonder who narrowly escaped being fed to a snake on Craigslist), and most recently, a guinea pig named Donkey.

As we were leaving the pet supply store that day, we saw an older cat up for adoption with the sign “Shelter Cat Needs a Home.” After discussion with staff members, I learned that the store had teamed up with an animal shelter to help stray cats and dogs who need homes.

Times are definitely changing for the better, and as more customers stop buying from pet stores, fewer and fewer animals will be forced to suffer needlessly. I will always speak out for animals and never give up hope that change is possible.


Noah and Shelby the dogNoah and Shelby – Esther The Wonder Pigs brother 🙂

Adopting A Forever Friend – A Few Things To Consider

Article appeared on Momtastic in December 2014. 

By Miriam Porter

As a kid, I was captivated by the movie Annie. My friends and I knew each song by heart and at any moment would start singing “Tomorrow” or “It’s The Hard-Knock Life” at the top of our lungs. At theatre camp we all wanted to play Annie. I drew freckles on my face with a red marker.

Annie tells the rags to riches story of a sweet, funny, and compassionate girl who lives in an orphanage but dreams of having a family of her own. Her wishes come true when she wins over Daddy Warbucks with her charm and zest for life and he officially adopts her and Sandy (the dog she rescued).

After my son watched the original Annie movie on DVD, he asked, “Can we adopt a dog named Sandy, pleeeeeeeease?” I’ve held him off so far — we have already rescued two cats, a guinea pig, and two hamsters – but the question is sure to come up again when we see the new movie version of Annie, which hits theatres this month.

The film stars Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz, and Quvenzhane Wallis as Annie. It’s been called the movie event of the holiday season — and with the holidays come presents. There is a very strong possibility your child will beg for a “Sandy” after watching Annie. But, before you get a dog, consider these things:

1. Adoption is best. In Toronto (my hometown) a bylaw went into effect in 2011 making it illegal to sell or purchase a dog from a pet store unless it’s from a shelter, rescue group, or humane society. So if you are ready to adopt a special “Sandy” be sure to check out a local shelter in your area. And hey, think of the important lessons you can teach your children about animal rescue!

2. Owning a dog is a huge commitment. Are you and your kids ready to make a 10 to 15 year promise to your new furry friend? The holiday season will come and go, but your dog will be there to stay.

3. Some children are allergic to longhaired dogs but fine with shorthaired dogs. It’s important to know whether your child has allergies in advance. Visit friends or family with various dog breeds and get in some furry cuddles and walks. Or become a foster family for a dog in transition. Maybe you’ll end up adopting your foster dog!

4. Dogs aren’t cheap. The initial adoption fee will cover many things. But keep in mind that dogs sometimes get sick and need to visit the vet, and you’ll also need to cover the cost of food, toys, comfy bed, and vaccinations.

5. A test run is a great way to see if a dog will fit your lifestyle. There’s nothing like a weekend sleepover with a friend’s dog to get a better understanding of what you are about to take on. Or perhaps your neighbour has a dog you can ‘borrow’ for a few hours. Alternatively, your local animal shelter may allow you and your child to take a dog for a walk.

6. You’ll have to go on late night walks, even in snow and ice. And yes, you’ll have to scoop poop during those walks too.

7. You’ll need to make arrangements for your new dog when you go on vacation. Dogs can’t stay home alone. Many families bring their dogs on road trips or other vacations. Some hotels, like The Fairmont, allow doggie guests! But if you are taking a vacation overseas or flying it’s a good idea to secure someone you trust to take care of your dog when you are away, or arrange dog-boarding services.

8. Choose a dog that fits your space. While it’s possible for big dogs to live in small spaces, it’s not always ideal. If you live in a small apartment maybe a small dog is best. If you have a large house with a sprawling backyard, then hey, consider adopting two dogs and double your fun!

9. If you rent a place, make sure you can have a dog there. Despite it being your right to adopt a pet to live in your rental unit, many buildings still have a no pet policy. To avoid a fight later on or even legal action, it’s best to check with your building manager or landlord before you bring a new dog home.

10. Get to know a bit about the potential dog you are adopting. While it’s impossible to fully know your dog’s personality beforehand, there is basic information you can find out. Is the dog good with children? Cats? If you have a new baby perhaps an older calmer dog is best. If you have an older child that is excited to take your dog on walks to the park, maybe a younger energetic dog will be the perfect match.
I look forward to the day when my son and I adopt our own “Sandy” — but until then best of luck with yours!