Let's talk about pet stores

I feel like we've been having a lot of good conversations lately about what constitutes a good breeder. And it should probably go without saying, but maybe we should say it. The worst of the worst are still the pet stores puppies. Even if you get a doodle from a random backyard breeder who doesn't do all the requisite health testing - in my opinion, if they are breeding their house dogs and taking good care of their dogs, ethically (and I am not speaking to the health of the offspring - I think that's a different conversation.) I don't think it's as bad as going into a pet store and bringing home a cute puppy. 

All of the pet stores will tell you that they don't buy their puppies from puppy mills. That is a lie. These puppies come from large volume, commercial dog farms. I think even the backyard breeders would object to shipping their puppies off to a store like cargo. It is quantity over quality. If some of them die that's just the cost of doing business. They use the momma dogs up and throw them away. That's how they keep their costs low.

I know there are some states that have banned retail sales of puppies. I don't live in one of them. The reason I'm bringing this up today is because I bought myself a fish tank for Christmas (okay, I bought myself two. Where's my eyeroll emoji?) And I was looking online for the hours at one of the local independent fish stores. They're supposed to have more knowledgeable employees and better fish. In their reviews I saw someone who was complaining about the puppies. Wait, what? Surely they don't sell puppies. I dug a little further, and sure enough they do. That's 4 (that I can count) very local to me pet stores selling puppies. I will not patronize them at all. Not even for fish. Not for dog food, not even just to look. 

But you guys. These people are still selling puppies because someone is out there buying them. Where is the education and the righteous indignation against pet store puppies? It really disturbs me that no one seems bothered by this. There is a store that's only blocks away from my house that's been in business for almost 45 years with puppies in the same wire bottom cages they were in when I was a kid and didn't know any better. (I only know this because I happened to look in the window when I was at the store next door.) They huddle on top of pieces of cardboard because the wire hurts their feet. One of my local FB groups was in an uproar on Christmas Eve because someone was selling puppies in the parking lot at Walmart - which also isn't ideal. But I just really want people to know that pet store puppies are still out there. Please do not buy them. 

And I guess I'm going to Petsmart for fish. At least they don't sell puppies.

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  • It's illegal to sell puppies in stores here as well (kittens too), all animals at pet stores are from rescues up for adoption.  I think it's an excellent change, pet store kittens and puppies always made me so sad.  We are very lucky that the closest pet store to us is a small place that only sells the "good stuff", they've flat out told me they won't buy any food items that come from overseas... so I feel comfortable with buying Riley's treats there and don't worry about it.

    There will always be people out there who just buy puppies because they are cute and really don't care where they come from or how healthy the parents were.  My neighbor has a shih tzu/bichon mix from a pet store (or kijiji, I'm not sure) and that dog was clearly from poor breeding.  She's a lovely dog personality wise but she has a severe underbite, she definitely has some kind of heart condition (if she gets running too hard sometimes she faints) and her bone structure doesn't look quite right (her feet turn out too far).  The way her owners look at it is basically "whatever, she will live how long she lives".  They love her so I really don't understand how they can think like that but they do.

    All we can really do is educate people when we can and refuse to patronize places that don't "do things right" according to our own standards.  


  • It's baffling to me too. How do people NOT know yet?  

  • Unfortunately, people continue to believe the lie that the puppies in the stores come from breeders. This is what they are told, they are given papers with the "breeder"'s name and address, even shot records, and they believe that some nice couple/family bred this puppy and sent it to sit in a cage in a store to be sold to anyone who happens by. 
    I met a nice young woman at the dog park recently, with an adorable 4 mo. old Whoodle. She bought him at a local pet store called "Happiness Is Pets." I was already familiar with that place, because the Puppy Mill Project has been trying to shut them down for years. At a village hearing, the owner pleaded hardship, people will lose their jobs, his family will go hungry, and besides, his puppies don't come from puppy mills, they all come from nice Amish farms. 

    I don't know what it will take to educate people about this. I mean, if Oprah Winfrey, with the platform of millions of viewers on a major-network daily talk-show couldn't do it, how do we? 
    I think people just do not want to know. 

    The Whoodle owner believed what the salesman told her,  that her puppy was from a "breeder". And she knew that the puppy's parents had all their health testing because "I got a whole booklet."
    Here's what I told her.
    If I put 40 cages in my garage and breed puppies, I'm a "breeder". And if farmer Yoder puts 400 cages in his barn and breeds puppies, he's a "breeder" too.
    Now...we all know what "retail" means, right?
    Retail is the reselling of new goods, the middle step between the manufacturer and the consumer. You can't go to the Nike factory and buy yourself a pair of shoes direct from the manufacturer; you have to go to a retail store. 
    The retail store buys the shoes from Nike at wholesale price and then marks it up and sells it to you for about twice the wholesale cost. That's how they stay in business, they can't just sell you the shoes for the same price they paid Nike, or they would go bankrupt, lol.
    It's the same thing with puppies in pet stores. Pet stores are retail establishments.
    So....ask yourself, if you were a nice breeder with a litter of puppies, would you sell them to some store owner for half their retail price, and send them off to sit in cages in a store and end up who knows where with who knows who? Or, would you keep them with their mother and their litter so that they only have to go through one transition, meet their future owners, and sell them yourself for twice as much money?
    After I said that, she seemed stunned for a minute. Then she said, "I never thought of that."
    They never do. :(

    • You're right, I think a lot of people don't want to know. And so much of it comes down to money and people wanting what they want when they want it. I know that KS and MO likely will never have legislation about pet stores the way California does, because there's too much revenue in dogs. 

      • There are a TON of pet stores in Los Angeles. maybe other parts of the state have laws against them, but the So Cal kill shelters are packed to the brim with little fluffy Poodle mixes that would be grabbed anywhere else in the country; in So Cal, they are killed for space. And the pet stores are mainly to blame.

        • Actually pet stores cannot sell puppies or kittens in California. There used to be a big problem but no longer. Pet stores can only provide rescue dogs and cats now.

          • Leslie, how many links would you like me to post here for pet stores selling puppies in Los Angeles alone? 

            Korea Town is full of them. Most do not have wbesites, though. You can find them on Yelp. Check out Olympic Pet Shop, Puppy 4 U, Paraiso Pets, and the list goes on.

            Others do have websites. Here are a just a couple.

            PuppyLandLA.com, Yorkies, Maltese, Breeders, teacup yorkie, teacup maltese, Frech Bulldogs, Frenchi…
            Breeding Toy & Teacup Yorkie & Maltese for Over 12 Years. Healthy, quaility puppies with health guarantees.
            • This is so depressing.  I lived in LA when the law passed and all the dog pet shops closed where we lived, on the westside.  I hadn't thought of all the "under the radar" shops in places like downtown and Koretown.  

          • THIS article about the sale of puppies in CA despite the legislation may also interest you.


            2 pet shops close, but dogs from ‘puppy-laundering ring’ are still being sold in California stores
            The state’s groundbreaking “puppy mill ban,” enacted one year ago, may need fine tuning. A legislative fix is in the works.
            • This was a good article. Thanks for posting this. It doesn't surprise me at all, the lengths that people will go to to circumnavigate the law. But this:

              The idea: Require pet shops and nonprofit rescues to get approval from local animal control officials before selling animals in California.

              Shops, rescues and animal control agencies would enter a contractual-type agreement, placing the onus squarely on the local public animal control agencies to ensure that rescues are legitimate, and not fronts for for-profit puppy mills.

              Call me a cynic, I don't think this will have the effect they're hoping it will. They mention that some of these puppies are coming out of Joplin? It wouldn't surprise me at all to find that the animal control officer was involved in the so-called rescue. Or if someone slips him $100 to sign off on their "rescue." I support rescue, but not all rescue is rescue. 

              I mentioned earlier that the other day one of my FB groups was on fire because someone was selling puppies in front of the Walmart. They called the police. The police came, and said the puppy sellers could stay and sell the puppies. So then people wanted to buy them and put them in rescue. I understand where they're coming from, but I think they're missing the point. The person who bred these dogs doesn't care where they go. They only care about getting paid. So if someone buys them for rescue it doesn't discourage them from doing this again. Next time skip the parking lot. Sell them straight to the rescue group. It's supply and demand. As long as there are people out there willing to buy these puppies they will find a way to sell them.

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