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Blaming the Wrong Party for Pet Store and Breeder Sales

Posted by at 5:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (12)


Blaming the Wrong Party for Pet Store and Breeder Sales by Scott VanValkenburgRecently, I read a comment by a leading spokesperson for the “no-kill” animal shelter movement regarding sales of puppies and kittens. This guy (who shall remain nameless, as his point is repeated widely and I do not want to contribute to his publicity) argued that the existence of for-profit breeders and pet stores is because of a failure of open-admission shelters to market themselves and to meet the needs of potential guardians.

The problem with this argument is not only that it ignores basic economic reality (have you noticed that competing box stores are located right across the street from each other?) but also that it is demonstrably false. There are plenty of communities that have wonderful animal shelters with progressive programs that still have to deal with pet stores that sell puppies and kittens, as well as breeders who plaster their posters around the community and advertise in the Sunday paper or on Web sites.

PETA has led protests against the notorious Petland and other stores to try to educate consumers. The animal shelter community needs our assistance and support—it shouldn’t be blamed for the existence of businesses that treat animals like commodities. The key thing that all of us must do is stress to everyone that the only acceptable place to obtain a canine or feline companion is an open-admission shelter or breed rescue group. We need to educate people so that they make the right decision, no matter what types of advertisements and promotions might be out there.

A few weeks ago, a woman walked into the animal shelter where I volunteer and asked for a Persian cat. She was told that there weren’t any purebred Persians among the several hundred cats at the shelter and was encouraged to check out the wonderful cats who were on hand. On her way out, the adoption manager assured the woman that a Persian would arrive within a short time because they are quite common and that the shelter would call her as soon as one arrived. The woman thanked her and said she’d appreciate a call since her beloved cats have always been Persians. A few days later, two Persians came in and the manager immediately called the woman—only to learn that she had already gone to a breeder.

To blame the animal shelter for this woman’s actions is ridiculous—the shelter workers did everything they could to help facilitate an adoption. Think about how this story might have ended had the woman refused to purchase a cat from a breeder and, instead, waited a few days as the shelter had requested.

In this fast-food society—where videos, food, and all manner of other items are delivered in short order—the for-profit animal breeders and sellers are fighting for their market share. And therein lies the real problem. Animals should come from adoption agencies that place their needs first, not from some place that treats them like an iPod, a flat-screen television, or some other product that will end up being replaced by a more interesting consumer novelty later on.

If the animal shelter in your community is not a model of excellent public relations and customer service, do you think that somebody is justified in going to a breeder or pet store to get their puppy or kitten?

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    Isabelle says...

    March 31st, 2009, 11:01 am

    Very nice story and , way truth. I lost my beautiful Standard Poodle a year ago, it was devastating for me. I start doing my research not a long time ago to find a Standard from local shelter and thru Poodle rescue, standard are rare, but i WILL NOT go to a puppy mills…. no way!!!!! In this crazy world, like you said, everything is so fast everybody want it NOW…. I am waiting, positive i am. Hope soon people will understand…. before it’s to late.

    holly says...

    April 3rd, 2009, 12:17 pm

    I agree we as a society has been in the “fast lane” for quite some time now. Back yard breeder and puppy mills are horrible! I have raised my children to love and respect animals. my daughter holds down a full time job and is going to collage full time. her days off are few and far between. She still gives 2 saturdays a month at our local humane society. There are so many wonderful cats and dog waiting for a home.
    We are all responsible for our planet and the animals on it. Education begins at home. When my family adopts a pet we know that it is for the life of the pet. that we are responsible to take it to the vet and keep it healthy and happy. (my boston bull terrier is 12 yrs old) I hate seeing pets kept out in a yard or tied up outside. My Mom used to say to don’t find a pet it finds you! have an open mind and visit the shelters!

    Natasha says...

    April 3rd, 2009, 7:00 pm

    Although I do 100% agree to this, I must also put in that not ALL breeders are these horrific individuals that continually breed their animals over and over again, several times a year simply for profit. My parents are “lazy breeders” as I like to call them. They do not let their dogs (pureblood Pugs) breed every time they are in season, they do not sell their pups to whoever will buy, and they definitely do not believe in puppy mills! They usually have 1 litter a year, MAYBE two, but that’s it, and they definitely take very good care of them. My siblings and I joke that my parents love their dogs more than their own children, which I believe more breeders should be like that. But because of the way people view most breeders, they have decided they aren’t going to be breeding much more. So people should really reconsider what they are saying about breeders when they go about saying very harsh things about them. There is nothing wrong with breeding as long as you take good care of your pets and ensure you don’t sell to just anyone. My parents definitely asked why the customers wanted the pups, and have turned down a lot of people who were uneducated about Pugs.

    Melissa says...

    April 3rd, 2009, 9:07 pm

    Natasha,
    We all understand your parents are very good to their pugs and for this we are happy. But the fact remains that although your parents cannot be grouped with the notorious “backyard breeders,” they are still facilitators of the overall problem. While your parents are selling puppies from the one or two litters their dogs have each year, beautiful animals are being euthanized DAILY at your parents’ local animal shelter. We simply have far too many unwanted pets in this Country and the breeding MUST stop now or the suffering will continue. Search on-line for the number of dogs (and cats) put down each year in shelters across the United States. The numbers are staggering!!!
    One of my favorite quotes comes from Gandhi: “You can see the state of a Nation by the way its animals are treated.” *Here in the United States, one out of every 31 adults is in prison, in jail, or on supervised release! I would say we are in a heck-of-a-“state,” wouldn’t you?
    The benefit of your parents no longer breeding their dogs would be two-fold. First, they would no longer be adding to this country’s animal overpopulation problem. Secondly, they could use the time they would have spent caring for the puppies and trying to place them to instead educate the public on our need to make the connection between loving animals and loving each other.
    *Taken from an article in the PARADE magazine written by Democrat Senator, Jim Webb

    Ruth Keenan says...

    April 3rd, 2009, 9:07 pm

    Ruth says:
    April 3,2009 @ 8:50pm
    I lost my toy poodle to congestive heart failure @ 81/2 yrs. old, Jan. 9/08.
    I made several trips to our local Humane Society to find a small dog ( any
    variety or mix. ), to no avail. They said the small dogs come in & are adopted right away. Finally , I answered an ad in the paper for a Yorkie-Poo. The breeder asked questions about our home environment, fenced yard & who would be caring for him. I met the male & female parents of ),
    the puppies & was satisfied that this was the puppy we wanted to love & care for. The breeder phoned me 2 days later to find out how the puppy was doing & if there were any problems. Some breeders really care about their animals & of course, they expect to make some money. I was sorry the Humane Society couldn’t fill our need.

    Jamie Rivet says...

    April 4th, 2009, 1:00 am

    I just hope that the opposition to animal rights has not succeeded in a divide/conquer strategy. I mean, are we at war with No-Kill shelters now? I love Toronto Humane, a no-kill outfit. And I love Toronto Animal Services, which is city funded and open admission. TAS puts down animals every day, probably many- the result of irresponsible people not fixing their animals. Toronto Humane regularly closes its doors to newcomers- I know this because I have brought stray cats and been turned away. Bottom line- let’s all continue helping animals and educating people and stop the petty bickering.

    Patty Bowers says...

    April 4th, 2009, 1:18 pm

    NO, I don’t think there is ever an excuse for going to a breeder. It is not an ethical choice any more, in the world we live in. And many breeder puppies, dogs, kittens & cats wind up in shelters and some are even available w/ papers. In these economic times, w/ people losing homes, there are even more purebred cats and dogs in shelters & it is a bitterly sad situation. We have to make it totally socially UNACCEPTABLE for people to buy “pets”, when there are so many out there in shelters longing for a family. I have been known to take down puppy and kitten “For Sale” signs posted in supermarkets and around town. We should all encourage our vets also, not to post any For Sale signs in their waiting rooms. We need to personally talk to our friends and acquaintences about how to get a RESCUED purebred if what they are looking for is a purebred breed. I recently had a client stop buying purebreds and rescue one instead because he simply didn’t know that that was an option. ~ Patty Bowers

    Scott says...

    April 6th, 2009, 7:35 am

    Natasha and Ruth, please see petfinder.com and note the number of pugs and other small breed dogs who are there looking for a home; please tell your friends and family that if people are willing to be patient and to make an effort they can find any dog (or cat!) they want from a shelter or rescue group and not support bringing yet another animal into the world for somebody’s profit. Jamie, good for you for loving TAS even when they have to euthanize because the no-kill shelter turns animals away; please help the public to see that without TAS then animals would suffer and die on the streets.

    LeeAnn says...

    April 7th, 2009, 3:43 pm

    Here is my only argument about shelters, and from what I read in the papers, this is a widespread problem. Their screening of applicants sometimes goes too far. I read about a person being turned down for a pet just because of a criminal conviction 25 years earlier (which had nothing to do with crimes against animals), and read about a person being turned down because their vet reported they were once a month late in getting their collie a shot! We all know beautiful animals are being euthanized for lack of loving responsible homes, and unless the applicant is an abuser, or seriously negligent in seeking veterinary care, they should be allowed to adopt. These people, who are good people, turn to stores, breeders, and etc. Thankfully I am not “blacklisted” with the shelter, but it does seem some good people are. This only hurts the animals in need of forever loving homes.

    Corinne Waheed says...

    May 5th, 2010, 2:47 am

    Hi there! I volunteer for the SPA Canada (Society for the Protection of Animals) and we are encouraging everyone on the street to adopt from a shelter to help reduce euthanization rates, find homes for homeless pets, and get consumer to stop supporting puppy mills by buying a pet from a pet store and even worse, not getting it fixed! Unwanted littters means more abandonned puppies and kittens each year they are fertile…I mean do you know what a Puppy mill is? Pretty much animal slavery! The same mothers are forced to have litter after litter of puppies while stuck in small shitty wired caged with a lack of proper food, water, exercise and vetenary care. Dogs and cats grow to have physical and phsychological disorders and when females become infertile at a young age, they are abandonned or killed, no retirement here! Only suffering for domestication…basically do not support live animal stores like Nature, Safari, Petland, etc. Instead visit the SPCA or local shelter and rescue a pet today!

    nancy says...

    January 19th, 2011, 1:24 am

    This is the first time I’m aware that some people blame shelters for other people breeding animals. That’s a crazy argument! I think people saying that are just reaching for excuses to continue to breed. I think they would say anything they think somebody would believe to place the blame away from themselves.

    Ginger says...

    March 30th, 2012, 4:13 pm

    All baby stealers are monsters. The cruelest thing, is to seperate mothers and babies. ALL MOTHERS LOVE THEIR BABIES.
    All breeders are in the business of stealing babies to sell.
    So even if every cage in every shelter was empty….breeders would still be monsters.

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