Sources for Acquiring a Pet

Sources for Acquiring a Pet


Position Statement:

Humane Canada™ supports the responsible sourcing of companion animals to discourage welfare issues that can arise as a result of substandard breeding practices or through animal sales, which have little regard for the welfare of animals.

Humane Canada™ opposes the sale of animals in pet stores. Instead, Humane Canada™ encourages pet stores to partner with animal welfare organizations to have cats and dogs available for adoption at a satellite adoption centre (see definition) at the store. Humane Canada™ equally opposes the sale of animals through exclusive use of the internet, without in-person interactions between the animals’
breeder/current owner, the prospective new owner and the animals themselves.

To comprehensively address the serious and clandestine issue of substandard breeding operations, Humane Canada™ supports the implementation of a preventive government regime overseeing the breeding, transport, housing and sale of companion animals, including those incorporating mandatory inspection and licensing of companion animal establishments, including suppliers, breeders, and stores.


Humane Canada™ advocates adoption from local humane societies, SPCAs, animal shelters and rescue organizations that meet standards of care for companion animals. In particular, all companion dog and cat facilities should abide by the CVMA Code of Practice for Kennel Operations (3rd edition, 2018), and the CVMA Code of Practice for Cattery Operations (2009), respectively, as the standards for care and management. Humane Canada™ also accepts the acquisition of animals from responsible breeders (see definition). Humane Canada™ condemns the mass breeding of companion animals for commercial sale and urges the public to learn how to recognize and avoid substandard breeding operations (see definition). Such operations subject animals to suffering caused by conditions such as overcrowding; inadequate shelter, sanitation, food, water and veterinary care; long term confinement; and lack of socialization or enrichment. All substandard breeding operations should be reported to local animal cruelty protection agencies.

Substandard breeding operations may be homes, farms, or other facilities where people collect and breed dogs and cats. Beyond the serious welfare concerns for the breeding animals, these conditions often result in poor socialization, leading to behavioural problems, and poor health that may persist throughout the lifetimes of the animals that are born. Indiscriminate breeding can lead to additional hereditary health and behaviour problems.

The sale of animals in pet stores and through the internet can be problematic for many reasons. The source of these animals may be substandard breeding operators or brokers thereof. Purchasing such animals perpetuates the demand for this trade and the continuation of unethical practices.

Transportation, particularly at a young age, and confinement can compromise an animal’s welfare. Sale in stores or on the internet promotes impulse buying, with prospective new owners not doing enough research on the needs of the species and breed, or on responsible ownership. In addition, these sources are not likely to provide sufficient information about individual animals’ requirements and temperaments. Humane Canada™ urges those considering acquiring any companion animal to do their research.


Substandard breeding operations
Substandard commercial dog and cat breeding operations, which sell purebred or mixed breed animals in high volumes to unsuspecting buyers, share common characteristics:

  • Substandard health and/or environmental issues;
  • Substandard animal care, treatment and/or socialization;
  • Substandard breeding practices that lead to genetic defects or hereditary disorders;
  • Erroneous or falsified certificates of registration, pedigrees and/or genetic background.

Note: Some substandard breeding operations are commonly referred to as “puppy mills”. The above conditions may also exist in small volume or single-breed establishments. Humane Canada™ believes these characteristics would be similar for rabbits, hamsters, birds or any other mass-produced animal.

Responsible Breeder
Responsible breeders are individuals who focus their efforts on one or a select few breeds and who have become knowledgeable about the breeds’ health, heritable defects, temperament and behaviour. This knowledge may have come from breeding, showing, raising, and training animals of these breeds, as well as historical research and ongoing study, mentoring relationships, and club memberships. Responsible breeders are well placed to educate and screen potential buyers/adopters and provide follow-up support after purchase/adoption. Responsible breeders take a lifetime responsibility for the animals they have bred. Responsible / ethical breeders place a priority on:

  • The health and well-being of the breeding pair.
  • The short- and long-term well-being of the offspring.
  • The overall dog or cat population to which they will be adding.

Satellite Adoption Centre
A satellite adoption centre is a pet store or other location that does not sell cats and dogs, but instead partners with an animal sheltering or rescue organization to house and adopt out cats and dogs directly at the store. The store provides for the housing and welfare needs of the animals. In addition, all animals receive appropriate veterinary care, and all dogs, cats and rabbits are sterilized prior to sale. Interested adopters must be approved under the same adoption screening process that the organization has in place for all animals adopted from them directly.

Sources for Acquiring a Pet
Sources for Acquiring a Pet
Humane Canada (also known as the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies) is Canada's federation of SPCAs and humane societies, representing the largest animal welfare community in Canada.