Ten years of ‘Adopt, don’t shop’


As our Pet Pals column turns a decade old, we once again urge people to discourage animal breeding and instead, give rescues the love they deserve

It was a sunlit afternoon at an adoption drive. A young boy cradled a rescued mongrel in his arms. Meanwhile, several other puppies advanced towards him like spectacularly cute zombies, their pink tongues hanging out. The child exchanged an anxious look with his father who mirrored his feelings. “We have to decide,” he sighed, articulating what all of us know to be true: ‘as much as we would like to, we can’t save them all’. But what if we could?

The goal of the ‘Adopt, don’t shop’ movement is precisely that — an initiative to rescue and foster orphaned animals in safe spaces until they are ready to go home to their future families. It reminds us that in a world where there are so many precious beings hungry for love, it is immoral to add to the population by breeding animals for profit.

The unregulated pet breeding industry is a lose-lose situation for pedigree dogs and Indian dogs alike. Pedigree female dogs are often kept in neglectful conditions while they are bred continually with little regard for their need for affection, while their puppies are weaned at early ages despite the risk of them losing immunity, all so that the mother can be bred again for the next saleable litter.

Meanwhile, inbreeding practices (where dogs from the same family are mated) result in a large number of pedigree puppies growing up to have permanent health issues that cause anguish to them and their owners alike. To compound the problem, breeders cash in on passing fancies such as Siberian huskies (on account of their similarities to the wolves in Game of Thrones), knowing fully well that they cannot cope with our tropical climate. Indian dogs, meanwhile, wait in vain at shelters, only to be joined by their pedigree brethren abandoned by unprepared owners.

Pet Pals was conceptualised by Devika Khazvini, the founder of Cattitude Trust, with the aim of highlighting the hilarious, unforgettable, and inimitable traits of various rescued cats and dogs around the country, so that they might get the homes they deserve.

Since 2008, the column has been sustained by volunteers from informal groups and NGOs who rescue needy animals, send in the best photos of these cats and dogs, and patiently interview potential owners, before giving them for adoption free of cost. Countless Indian animals as well as abandoned pedigree pets have found doting families, who believe that the only meaningful legacy is kindness. As one adopter said during an interview, about her decision to adopt a shelter pet: “We want to teach our son to think about animals… that it’s not important whether they are mixed-breeds or not. Every animal has a soul”.


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