You know that exciting feeling you get when you walk into a pet store and you see all those adorable little puppies in crates? All is good and well because hey, they’re puppies, right?
Well, it’s time to replace that feeling of joy with one of dread and pity. Retail sales of dogs and cats usually have a seedy origin, as fellow student Jessica Warner recently informed me. Recently, she founded “Adopt Don’t Shop Tacoma,” a movement to ban the retail sales of animals.
To be clear, the goal here isn’t to deny dogs being sold in retail a home or you of your choice of pet, but to stop Pierce County from contributing to an abusive system. Warner explained to me that there is an important distinction between responsible breeders, large-scale breeders (puppy mills), and those who do so “without any knowledge or skills, or health/genetic tests for the animals,” (AKA backyard breeders).
The bottom line is that puppies sold in pet stores come from commercial breeders or backyard breeders. No responsible dog breeder would ever sell their puppies to a retail store (a statement backed by the HSUS and the ASPCA). The goal here is financial gain for the breeder and the store, with no real consideration for the animals’ wellbeing.
These types of sales happen all over the country, including our dear Pierce County. Pets and Pals in North Tacoma told Warner that they get their puppies from “accidental litters,” but as she put it, “They have had puppies in their store every day for at least the last three years–that is a lot of accidental puppies.” These dogs are usually purebred dogs in high demand.
While this isn’t the most moral way to do business, at least they treat the animals once they’re brought into the store. The B&I, on the other hand, has dogs that as Warner put it “live in metal cages and do not get any outside activity or socialization, which is really bad for a puppy. The B&I just doesn’t have a good reputation in general.” It is a similar case at Favorite Things Fish and Pets in Spanaway. All of these establishments charge $600 and up for these animals.
This came to Warner’s attention in October 2013 when she and her husband Brad got a dog (Chester) at Pets and Pals on sale for $699. Warner told me, “The store owner didn’t ask my husband and I where we lived, if we rent or own, if we had jobs, if we were animal abusers or like to make puppy stew. He just needed my ID and credit card number.”
After being told that Chester was bought from people who refused to take care of him, she did some research on her own. As it turns out, the type of dog Chester is only comes about by artificial insemination and often requires a C-section. Somebody invasively impregnated Chester’s mom, which Warner found morally reprehensible.
She told me this: “Every year, almost 4 million animals are euthanized in shelters and 3 million animals are created by unscrupulous breeders. The term “adopt don’t shop” aims to point out that fact—that by adopting you actually are saving two lives—not only the animal you adopt but also the animal that will be able to be housed in that shelter because one less animal needs to be there.”
Warner’s goal is to end the retail sales of dogs and replace them with adoption events, which have already been picked up by many pet stores. Adopt Don’t Shop serves to let people know that they have been fooled into thinking they can purchase “happy and healthy” dogs in pet stores.