Many people believe that if you want a mutt or a mixed breed cat, you go to your local shelter. If you want a rare or expensive breed, however, you have to go directly to private breeders or exclusive pet stores.
In reality though, this isn't always the case. Many, many dogs and cats are turned into shelters each year complete with registration papers showing that they are among the feline and canine elite. Animal rescues all over the US are set up to rehome these exclusive breeds, and adopting one might very well be harder than adopting a human child. Still, you'll likely pay far less than for a rare breed puppy or kitten purchased directly from the breeder or pet store.
According to Women's Day online, the rarest and most expensive breed of dog is the Lowchen, which was almost extinct at the end of the 1800's, and puppies can sell for as much as $8000 each. Yet a check of www.Petfinder.com yeilds three of these rare dogs, all located in the northeastern United States.
Ethan (pictured here) is a gorgeous black and white example of the Lowchen breed, who ended up homeless due to his human owner's death. Kat Roll of REACH Rescue, Inc. in Coatsville, PA rescued him and while she's looking for a home for him, she won't just adopt to anyone.
Kat is also a breeder of Lowchen dogs, and says that while it is very rare for one of these dogs to end up in a shelter, it does happen. She says that she and most other breeders who raise these and other rare dogs are diligent in making sure, however, that they don't stay in shelters any longer than necessary, and will immediately work to get them out and get them the help they need to find a forever home. This can include veterinary work or additional training.
Bo, a Portuguese Water Dog, is another example of a rare breed dog that could have ended up in a shelter. Instead, he now calls the White House his home, and Sasha and Malia Obama his playmates. He too was a "second chance" dog, returned to a breeder when he didn't perform to his original owner's approval.
Rare cats can also be found in shelters and rescues. Pixie, a gorgeous striped Sphynx (hairless cat) is located at a rescue in Florida, but there are also rescue Sphynx located in Michigan, Oklahoma and California. These cats sell for $2000 or more as kittens, yet Sacha Furr with Bendy's Home in North Carolina says she has seen them free on Craig's List, along with Bengals and other rare breed cats.
Distance is no obstacle either -- organizations like Pilots 'n Paws and Freedom Train Animal Rescue Transports exist for the sole purpose of making sure that rescue and shelter animals get from point A to point B instead of from shelter to landfill. Local rescues are usually happy to perform home visits or check local references for an out-of-town rescue or shelter. Some over-the-road truckers will help with rescue transport. If all else fails, rescues can turn to people who support them monetarily to pay for a commercial transport service.
With all of this availability, even someone with modest means can adopt the pet of their dreams if they are patient and willing to do a little searching on the internet. The adage "Don't shop -- adopt!" applies no matter what pet you're looking for.