Adoption. Does it always mean the animal was rescued?


Adoption.  Those of us in the rescue world use this term as a serious differentiator between getting a dog (or any animal) from a rescue versus buying one from a breeder.  Why the difference? Adoption generally refers to someone or something who is homeless.  Breeding animals for profit does not make these animals homeless.   Messaging this distinction to the public is critical.  It is part of the marketing used for rescues and shelters.  We want people to be proud of adopting – because they have saved a life in doing so.

Yet commercial and back yard breeders are beginning to use the term “adopt” interchangeably with “buy” to make selling animals seem noble  – while shelter pets are killed by the tens of thousands. It just doesn’t add up.
The term ‘adoption’ also is being used by pet stores who sell puppies from puppymills and puppy mill operators as a creative way to confuse buyers. Using the term adoption capitalizes on – yet diminishes – the wonderful, heroic work being done by rescuers. Tragically, these dogs are being marketed with a term that is far removed from its origin and cheapens the dedication and passion of those who save the millions of unwanted dogs in our shelters every day.


We created quite a dialogue recently when we asked folks on our Facebook page to share their opinions of the new Budweiser commercial – Puppy Love and their use of the term ‘Puppy Adoptions’.  The conversation represented a variety of viewpoints.  While we got the message of love in this commercial and absolutely felt the emotional connection to it, we were just disappointed with their use of the term ‘puppy adoptions’ when the setting clearly looked like a breeder’s facility (vs. animal shelter where adoptions take place).

Perhaps it’s the rescue “filter” that’s ingrained in us, but we so wished that Budweiser would not have misrepresented this term or would have used this platform to promote rescue.  We absolutely realize that wasn’t their goal – and don’t want to detract from the wonderful way the commercial was universally relatable. But we wanted to get a conversation going about what adoption truly means to some of us who are passionate about it. Should there be more transparency and less ambiguity in marketing terminology?

We would love to hear your thoughts.  Are we being nitpicky or is it the inherent right of rescuers to protect the use of this word?

2 thoughts on “Adoption. Does it always mean the animal was rescued?

  1. Totally agree and I think you are being too kind in your assessment. Especially given that this facility is supposedly set in MO, the nation’s puppy mill capital. This commercial could have had the same emotional pull yet featured a litter of mix-and-max puppy mutts, and an adorable one-of-a-kind little mutt as the hero. Name one legitimate dog adoption/rescue facility, in MO no less, that ONLY has 10-week old purebred puppies and is housed in an idyllic farm setting.

  2. The word rescue should be protected from uses that do not depict the meaning of the word. Truly homeless animals in need of rescue depend on the the right use of the word rescued, their very lives depend on people understanding that well. And the fact that while they purchase a life, another precious one is lost in a shelter! It is a shame!

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