Thursday, February 14, 2013
Christine Exley, a graduate student in Economics at Stanford, writes me about a new matching market, Wagaroo, that aims to cut the search costs for finding pet dogs from responsible sources. (NB, the site may not yet work with all browsers.) She writes:
"It is estimated that 23.5 million people plan to acquire a pet every year. Of this, 1.5 million intend to buy their pet from a breeder, 5 million are committed to adopting their pet, and 17 million are undecided about the source for their new pet. At the same time, 3 million dogs and cats are killed every year in shelters because they cannot find a home. When you account for people acquiring dogs from shelters, rescue groups, the street (i.e., strays), friends, family members and purebred breeders, there are still over 6 million people acquiring dogs and cats from “other” sources. These other sources (as well as some of the listed sources) are likely puppy mills – places that mass-produce dogs for profit in horrid conditions.
"Why do people get dogs from puppy mills and hence increase the demand for this inhumane practice in the face of so many adoptable dogs being killed in shelters? There are two leading answers. First, separately identifying puppy mills from responsible breeders is challenging. Both puppy mills and responsible breeders sell purebreds for upwards of $1,000, and puppy mills are quick to imitate responsible breeders by falsely advertising that their dogs are bred and cared for in good conditions. Second, the search costs of acquiring dogs from responsible sources are incredibly high since no unified market exists. While you may need to search dozens of responsible organizations before you find an available Black Labrador puppy, a quick Google search is guaranteed to show an available Black Labrador puppy from a puppy mill. Wagaroo will change this through an online listing of dogs from all responsible sources – shelters, rescue groups, responsible breeders and owners needing to re-home their dogs. No puppy mills allowed! While Wagaroo is in early stages, (ideas on how to perfectly separate puppy mills from responsible breeders are welcome), we look forward to building such a comprehensive listing and providing people with a simple, reputable way to find a dog from responsible sources. If we make it easy, then we know that people will do the right thing. "