This is always going to be a sensitive subject and I want to shed some light to hopefully bring a different point of view to the public.
Shelter, pet store, or breeder?
The word breeder has turned into such a negative concept. There are so many irresponsible people that breed animals with little to no knowledge and sell them to uneducated or irresponsible people. Most animals in shelters are there because their past owners didn't want them, they had no other place to bring them to, or breeders were busted for abusing or mistreating animals. Shelters are in need of families to adopt animals from them and I do encourage it 100%. I also believe that responsible breeders that sell to responsible owners should be an option as well.
This will be a hard pill to swallow but if you knowingly buy a rabbit from a breeder who is not responsible or mistreating their animals, you are not "saving" their babies. You are growing their business. There are so many people that have the mentality that if they don't personally adopt or buy that poor bunny then who knows what will happen to him or her. You feel like you may be saving them but in the most precious way I can say this, you are not. You are helping their business grow. If you decided to not buy from them because they are not reputable, then eventually someone would buy him or her but it would cause stress to the breeder because they wouldn't be moving babies out as fast as they would like which eventually would slow down the amount of litters they decide to have or even encourage them to stop breeding because it "wouldn't be worth it".
I can't stress enough how important it is to do research and find someone who really cares for their animals and raises them ethically. Or if it's an option for you find a local shelter and adopt there because no matter what, there will always be animals in shelters. If we can really grasp a hold of this concept and do our part in responsibly adopting our animals, we can make a huge difference in not only our communities, but the world.
When most people think of shelters, they think of horrible owners just dumping their animals. That is a very narrow mind set to have and there will always be strong opinions about this topic. Some families are forced to move beyond their control and maybe don't find a place that allows animals like their last place. Some people get very ill and can no longer give their pets the attention that they deserve due to such a drastic life change. Guess what? That's life and it's ok for them to need to re-home them. The shelter should be the last place and if they bought from a responsible breeder, that breeder should have been the first option to take the animal back to. Most people don't think about "life time support" or a "take back policy". Families are usually planning to keep this animal for it's remaining life. Even if you have zero intentions in returning or giving up an animal, I recommend always adopting from a responsible source that will take back animals for any reason. Yes, you may never think you need that service, but so did 6 million other people that surrendered their animals to shelters in just America alone last year. All in all, shelters most definitely need families to adopt pets from them so if that is an option for you, look into it! But also don't shame great ethical breeders for hand raising pets for families as well.
I'm not going to say every pet store is horrible and that you should never get your animal from there. But do you know exactly where that rabbit or hamster came from? Or the exotic birds and reptiles? Big chain pet stores sell exotic animals and the worst part is when their employees know little to nothing about how to properly care for these animals. Not all pet stores are like this so don't get me wrong. But for instance, we have a pet store near us that has so many exotic birds, fish, and reptiles. I go there every so often so look because it's very intriguing to me and I love to see animals. Anywho... one day a man walked in with a box of rabbits. Of course I wandered over to him and started a conversation. He said he bought his daughter two bunnies over a year ago and thought they were the same gender. Six months passed by and they had babies. Ever heard of this happening? It happens all the time with inexperienced people trying to figure out rabbits genders. He said his daughter lost interest in the rabbits so he built a big pen outside and put them out there. He said they just kept multiplying with each other so he decided to bring them to the pet store and sell them for $10 each as s small side business. So this store accepts and buys INBRED rabbits and resells them to the public! I overheard the owner talking to the rabbit guy and he said he would take the 3 smaller babies but not the bigger one because it won't sell. I just hated every part of the conversation so politely excused myself. This isn't to say every pet store doesn't sell quality animals but do they really know where they are being raised at prior to showing up at their store? Ask them next time you go in.
Pet stores are also not going to offer lifetime support, even with their exotic animals. Sure you can go in and ask questions but depending on who is working, they may not be able to help you with your questions because most employees aren't specialized in the animals. You get what you pay for. I have a lot of people ask me why our bunnies are hundreds of dollars and then I hear from some of them later on down the road that adopted their bunnies from an unreliable source because they wanted a cheaper rabbit. They ask me for advice or help and unfortunately those messages are not responded to because I have healthy boundaries within my business to give my full attention and time to my customer base. Again, you get what you pay for! I do take in account every message I get and your questions help me write more blogs to share with the public to help educate everyone!
Finding an ethical breeder may be hard especially if you are just starting to look into it. You can join groups on Facebook and ask around or Instagram is a great source as well. Even just reaching out to different rabbitry's you find on Google or Craigslist is ok too. Just be sure to ask about their sales policy and if they have a website, read it inside and out to get a grasp of how they raise their rabbits. Always ALWAYS as questions. Ask to see where their rabbits are kept and if they can't show you in person because they want to keep their home life private from the public, that's ok. Just ask to see pictures of their setup. If they still won't show pictures then run! People that breed animals should specialize in them and have enough adequate clean space that each animals lives in. It's also important to see what kind of services they offer after taking home their animals. Support is an essential apart of being a great breeder, so be sure they offer support in case you have questions. If you've never had a rabbit before, I can tell you right now you will most definitely have questions the first two weeks you have them. Some people offer support but are very shady afterwards and will just cut you off so do research and take the time to read reviews or message a few rabbits on Instagram and ask if they have any advice of good breeders. The Instagram bunny community is an amazing place with so much helpful information!
I hope this has been helpful for you to read and maybe even brought some new perspectives to your thoughts on shelters, pet stores, and breeders!