To Buy Or Not to Buy: A Sanctuary Dilemma

Updated: Jun 10, 2020

Although in the world of animal sanctuaries, we owners all share an interest in providing homes for farm animals to live out their lives in peace and safety, we are not immune from experiencing divisive philosophical issues that can cause disapprobation and divide us as a community.

Perhaps foremost amongst issues of contention is the matter of whether a sanctuary should purchase the animals that live within its protective auspices.

Let me upfront declare that we have bought some of the animals that live POHP; so what you are about to read is a perspective that counters the (seemingly predominant) view that buying animals is 'not rescue'.

But firstly, let’s look at the typical arguments against buying, as expounded (and related verbatim) by a fellow sanctuary operator.

“1. Buying an animal is essentially paying for his/her replacement. When you buy an animal from a producer, for whatever purpose, you are perpetuating the cycle of exploitation.

2. If someone were to go looking for animals for sale, especially farm animals which are being sold for slaughter every single day, they would easily find an endless supply. However, paying money to save those animals would essentially fund the very industries which majority of those reaching out and asking for our help oppose, and thus purchasing them would only create more demand.

3. Buying a calf to save them from slaughter is no different than buying a puppy from a puppymill because those animals will all inevitably be replaced by others in just as dire circumstances as long as it’s deemed profitable to do so.”

Seems fair and perfectly reasonable, doesn’t it? These are persuasive and even compelling arguments.

But are they logically sound?

In essence, the three assertions are one and the same. They boil down to the belief that buying an animal actually makes things worse for those that aren’t saved, since it perpetuates hardship.