This little experiment tests the habits of people wishing to acquire a companion cat or dog and it is enlightening. For one day, a pet store was persuaded by Quatro Patinhas rescue organisation (“Four Paws”) to stock with rescue cats and dogs rather than their usual purchased animals, without telling customers.
The customers were stunned when told that the companion animal that they had selected was free. The customers went home happier than if they had purchased a purebred dog.
Two thoughts come to my mind.
- The joy of cat and dog companionship is in the companionship not in the appearance of the animal, which might have an impact for a while but which is soon overtaken by the loving bond between person and animal; purebred or not becomes almost irrelevant.
- One of the important differences between dogs and cats is that there are far more purebred dogs than cats. The difference in appearance between purebred dogs and random bred dogs or purebred-mixes is often slight. This perhaps makes the experiment more likely to succeed for dogs than cats.
However, it is also about habit. Many people wishing to acquire a ‘pet’ will immediately think of popping down to the local pet shop. If the habit of popping down to the local rescue was the norm, many people would be just as satisfied and the lives of many cats and dogs would be saved. That is what this experiment proves.
One slightly odd aspect of this experiment is that the shop was giving away the dogs and cats. Normally there is an adoption fee charged by the rescue organization. I wonder if the customers would have been as delighted if the shop had charged a fee?
They probably would have provided the cost was lower than the usual price. Also the big question is whether it would have worked in America. Americans are more tuned in to purebred companion animals, which may mean they are more fixed in their preferences. The USA is by far the biggest market for purebred cats.
There is a strong argument for giving it a try in the USA to see what happens. Perhaps someone has already tried it.