United States: Thoughts About The NY Times "The Ethicist's" Response To The Question: "Is It O.K. To Get A Dog From A Breeder, Not A Shelter?"

Last Updated: June 1 2016
Article by Nancy E. Halpern, DVM, Esq.

On May 15, 2016 the New York Times published its response to a reader's questions submitted to "The Ethicist:"

"Is it O.K. to Get a Dog From A Breeder, Not A Shelter?"

While author Kwame Anthony Appiah concluded that it was ok to purchase a dog from a responsible breeder, a few comments reflected a lack of understanding about the current state of animal shelters and rescues.

For example, Appiah said "if every canine companion that died or ran away were replaced with one, the shelters would be pretty much empty."

The fact is, shelters in many parts of the country, for example in the Northeast, do not have sufficient numbers of adoptable dogs currently available for people looking for their next pet.

As Ed Sayres, former CEO of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals explained when he testified in New Jersey in opposition to proposed bill S63 which would ban all sales of commercially bred dogs from pet stores in the state:

'There are 80 million dogs owned by pet owners in the United States, and based on an average life span of 11-12 years, pet owners will seek to acquire 8 million dogs in the U.S. in 2016. There are only 3.9 million dogs housed in shelters in the country, of which 0.9 million or 25% were lost and will be returned to their owners. That leaves only 3 million dogs for pet owners who want to buy or adopt a new pet, some 5 million fewer than the 8 million needed for owners seeking dogs.'

As previously described, the profitable retail rescue networks have emerged to fill that need.

"Rescuing" animals is highly lucrative Rescues and shelters are now the dominant providers of pets, replacing pet stores. Pet stores, shelters, and rescues compete for the same market share and profit from the sale or adoption of pets. The supply of shelter dogs is dwindling, particularly in the Northeast, largely due to successful programs encouraging responsible pet owners to spay and neuter their pets, including State's Animal Population Control Programs. The decreasing numbers of readily adoptable dogs at shelters resulted in the importation of thousands of puppies to the Northeast trafficked through shelters and rescues.

In New York City, the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals (Alliance) has established a "giant distribution network with Animal Care & Control (AC&C) as the 'wholesaler' and the partner organizations as 'retailers' who get the animals face-to-face with the public," for adoptions around the City, competing with pet stores and dog breeders.

AC&C operates the City's municipal animal shelter system under a five-year, $51.9 million contract, generating profits of $400,000 in FY 2013, and will receive more than $8,000,000 dollars this year to build a new adoption center and renovate its Brooklyn shelter. Alliance partners, including AC&C, receive subsidies "for every transferred animal adopted above their baseline (2003) adoption figures." So incentivized, adoptions and transfers from AC&C and partner organizations increased by 81%-119% between 2003 and 2007. At AC&C, dog intakes have steadily decreased since 2003, and as of 2013, euthanasia of dogs and cats at the shelter has been reduced by 81% since 2003.

The North Shore Animal League (NSAL) advertises that they rescue pets from "puppy mills" which they sell throughout the City. Since 2010, NSAL has imported at least 3,562 pets from 13 states and Puerto Rico, as contracts to import puppies from shelters like Precious Friends, a shelter in Tennessee, and has recently started advertising with SPCA's to purchase puppies directly from breeders.

Since many shelters and rescues are exempt from USDA licensure, the importation of dogs and cats through "rescue pipelines" is largely unregulated and has concerned animal health officials at the local, state, and national levels for some time. The pets offered by shelters and rescues are obtained from random sources and substandard facilities, and have the highest prevalence of infectious, contagious diseases, sometimes fatal, and behavioral disorders making them undesirable pets.

Animal health officials in the Northeast, where thousands of imported rescues are sent, have changed state laws to regulate the sales of pets imported by rescues, which threaten the health of each state's resident animals and their owners. For example, Precious Pups Rescue, a rescue in Long Island, was "shut down by the state attorney general's office for allegedly 'flipping' puppies and illegally reselling sick animals to unsuspecting consumers" in March 2015.

These operations do not protect animal or human health or consumers seeking healthy pets.

And yes, it is ok to purchase a dog from a breeder or pet store where you will find a pet with the specific physical and behavioral traits you want in your life-long companion.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Nancy E. Halpern, DVM, Esq.
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Ford & Harrison LLP
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Ford & Harrison LLP
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions