By Joe Clark
They are in malls and plazas. There are independent and superstore versions. They are brightly lit and stocked with every toy, food and item imaginable for your cat, dog, gerbil, guinea pig, fish and any other beloved animal. They are pet stores. Pet Stores are also the venues for selling dogs and cats. In the back of the store in crates and open spaces, cute puppies and kittens frolic. They are attractive and catch at the hearts of everyone who sees them. They yip cutely and are adorable. How can anyone resist them?
If you truly respect the lives of dogs, you will not spend your money on a dog from a pet store. These are not canines of the highest quality. These are not dogs who began life in a clean, safe and protected environment. These are not animals whose parents produce a litter a year then retire. These are animals who, for the most part, are the product of the atrocious conditions of a puppy mill.
Puppy mills are the banes of a humane society. They do not bring puppies into the world. Puppy mills create "product". A puppy mill is not about respecting and nurturing life. The bitches are forced to breed again and again until they die of exhaustion and/or neglect. At their very best, the kennel conditions are substandard. At their worse, these animals are housed in miserable, hovels lacking food, water, proper protection and sanitary conditions.
The puppy mills do not care about appearances. It is about numbers. These commercial factory farms for dogs produce all that the market can take and then some. The dogs are sold and shipped to the major pet stores across North America. Warts and all, the canines end up in your local pet store. Some may have fraudulent papers. Others are the new designer dogs. Labradoodles and Goldendoodles are in high demand in some parts of North America. As a result, they are being bred indiscriminately.
Buying a dog from a pet shop becomes a double crap shoot. The papers may be false. What is even more faulty is the health of the dog. The breeding conditions and the over breeding policies of puppy mills produce puppies with multiple health issues. While some may escape some of the health problems, many do not. There are instances of parasite infections, poor socialization and heart and lung problems. The puppy may also be home to more than 1 type of congenital problem.
If you wish to avoid these problems, check with the pet show owner. Ask the manager about the source of the dogs. See if there is some registration of immunization, veterinarian checkups and other related issues. Ask whether you could phone the kennels or visit them. If they are out of state or province, find out where. In all probability, these are puppy mill dogs. You may not be doing dogs any favors by supporting the producers.
If you are shopping for a dog, do not opt for the convenience of a pet store. The animals may initially be cheaper. You may be lucky and have no health problems. Even if the puppy is in ideal health and socialized, there is the wider social context. Is it morally right to support the inherent evil that is a puppy mill? Think seriously about it next time you see that cute little doggy in the window.