The front of a pet store, to many of us, is a place of happiness and joy. Puppies playing, kittens canoodling and children squealing with glee; what’s not to love? We’re presented with a whole room bursting with adorable baby animals staring up at us from every corner, begging us to pick them up and take them home. We justify it, telling ourselves that we’re doing the animals a favour… right? Wrong. Unfortunately, the back of these pet stores house a much darker reality.
Pet Stores and Puppy Mills:
The Dark Reality
Guest post by Kelsie Rimmer
Despite their convenience and harmless appearance, pet stores are an extremely controversial industry that, frankly, shouldn’t be allowed to sell living creatures. Unlike animal shelters and rescue centres, most pet stores are first and foremost a retail industry that prioritise economic above the welfare of the animals they are selling.
Due to the indiscriminate nature of retail, pet stores operate by endorsing the ‘impulse buy’, meaning that cute puppies and kittens are often bought on a whim. They grow into adults, lose their appeal and are often abandoned, surrendered or neglected, ending up in overcrowded animal shelters. Pet stores often fail to promote that a pet is a lifelong commitment, not simply a toy to be played with then forgotten about and thrown away.
Perhaps the most shocking aspect of this industry is where these animals come from. When we press our faces up against the glass, marvelling at the abundance of cute little companions, we don’t really stop to think about how pet stores manage to sell such an array of coveted breeds all year round. To keep up with the constant demand of consumers wanting a specific animal and wanting it now, a thriving industry has developed to supply the massive demand for ‘fashionable’ breeds and current pet trends, without regard for the consequence of animal overflow.
Puppy farms or ‘puppy mills’ are the predominant suppliers of dogs to pet shops, internet retailers and even international exporters. The aim of this trade is to produce the maximum product for the minimum cost, and consequently the conditions of these puppy farms are far from ideal. Animals are often forced to live in overcrowded, unhygienic and emotionally strenuous environments with little to no attention to their personal needs or welfare. These dogs are usually found ridden with fleas, sleeping in faeces or urine and severely malnourished or even starving.
The constant demand for pets also creates the need for females to be in a constant cycle of pregnancy and birth, turning these beautiful animals into ‘breeding machines’. Although these facilities are covered by codes of practise, the RSPCA and similar organisations are only permitted to get involved if there is explicit evidence of animal cruelty, which is very difficult to prove, and even more difficult to prosecute. At this point we must ask ourselves, is any of this in the best interests of the animals that propel this industry forward? If you answered no, then it’s time to make a change.
Animals sold in pet stores are just as deserving of love and companionship as an animal abandoned at a shelter or neglected on the streets, and they shouldn’t be the ones to suffer at the hands of this terrible industry. However, the only way to stop the puppy farm trade is to boycott the industries that support it. By avoiding pet stores, online retailers or any large scale pet retailers, you can help make a difference and hopefully put an end to the cruel, harmful reality behind pet stores.
The best and most rewarding alternative is to adopt a dog or cat from your local animal shelter or animal rescue group (such as the RSPCA or Lort Smith, or a no-kill shelter), and support the great work that these organisations are doing to help out animals in need. So when you are ready to give your next furry friend a forever home, remember to adopt don’t shop.