REEF2REEF Saltwater and Reef Aquarium Forum
Alright, so full disclosure I am a dog nerd as much as a Fish nerd, perhaps more.
I do admit to owning only purebred shelties although I’ve rescued several over the years.
Here’s what many don’t know:
1) there’s a difference between a commercial breeding facility and a puppy mill. Many of you are probably making faces at this, so let me explain. A commercial breeding facility is like a farm for dogs. Yes, they commercially breed and sell puppies. Often, they’re well-staffed and the animals well cared for. They often rescue purebred animals from bad situations and rather than euthanize an animal, they turn it in to a breeder. They do socialize the animals but it’s a fair assessment to say that these puppies will be less socialized if purchased directly from these facilities. Many are well-regulated and take good care of the animals from a health perspective.
On the other end of the spectrum, are Puppy Mills. They’re similar in that they breed allegedly purebred dogs but heavily blurr the lines of ethics. They mistreat the animals, they’re bred as often as possible at the expense of the mother and the pups, they live in filth, aren’t cared for my veterinarians by and large. These are the root problem, IME. We continue to draw a false equivalency.
2) I’ve seen commercial breeding facilities. I worked at a pet store here locally. The owner, now a good family friend, took pride in sourcing healthy animals from ethical situations. We went to inspect many of these places at random, and honestly they were cleaner and healthier than many pets I’ve seen at the humane society (and I spent a good amount of time volunteering there but I won’t get in to my disgust for a few humane societies as I cannot suggest they represent all of them). The facilities were clean, the animals were cleaned, veterinarians were often staffed if not on the regular weekly payroll. I cannot know everything about them, but if actions speak louder than words I was impressed enough.
3) The irony about many anti-puppy mill people (which is me, but again, they’re often lumping in commercial breeding facilities) is that these people aren’t willing to pay for healthy animals; well-bred, sourced by good breeders, and cared for with a full-time employed veterinarian. We included free vaccinations for the first 6 months, a spay/neuter, and a health guarantee.
We went out of business because people wouldn’t pay for the ethical and good treatment of the animals. Sure, like kids in daycare, pups in pet stores (and shelters) get sick more often. They also develop stronger immune systems if treated for their ailments properly. Another benefit of both shelters and pet stores.
Were we expensive? Sure! Probably 30% more than pet stores around us. But we paid 50-100% more than our competitor. Our animals didn’t come in stained with urine and obviously unhealthy. We were probably 2x the price of an AKC registered breeder (whom we sourced about half or more of our dogs from these small breeders). What did you get for your money?
An animal that has been socialized with many children and families before you get it. You were able to choose based on breed and expected attributes. You were able to see the actual behavior of the animal before purchase. You had a choice of say 25-40 dogs at any given time. You had $300-800 of veterinary costs (depending on where you took them — it wasn’t a low cost clinic we sent them home to), etc. You didn’t have to take a day off of work and drive several hours to get your dog. The lost productivity of one day of work and the gas you spent have a cost.
Do I buy from pet stores? I have once. She’s a great dog. She was bought from a store I don’t trust, that was our competitor. My wife suckered me in to this bad decision. I can’t be sure of her actual source, so I assume the worst.
4) not only were people not willing to pay for properly treated animals and ethically sourced dogs— but this pet store chain DID try to sell us “shady dogs” for cheap. Part of the franchise agreement apparently stated that the owner MUST take a percentage of puppies from this (surely affiliated and compensated) source in order to avoid breaching the contract. Well, we refused to do so after our first few deliveries. They tried to sue and lost. I’m leaving the name of the store out on purpose because they’re already a big target (and to some degree, probably rightfully so in some cases) and I’m not legally able to discus in more detail.
In conclusion, it’s easy to talk a big game about the issue but very few actually know the facts or how these things work. Not all pet stores are bad, not all chains are bad, and they actually do provide great benefit. This is all subjective, however. You can say that you don’t like any commercial breeding facility and wish to obtain dogs from small breeders, rescues, or hobbyists. That’s fine and you have the right to choose. But to take away someone else’s choice based on misinformation and a misunderstanding of the logistics and facts at play is reckless and dangerous.
I will also add sometimes the worst-bred, unhealthiest, urine-soaked animals we received came from “AKC licensed breeders” we discovered were actually puppy mills. You cannot be sure. I also received a pup from a small AKC hobby breeder directly that was my first dog who had a collapsed trachea, severe luxating patella (needed surgery to
fix knee), and had a plethora of other congenital defects. If I had bought him from a pet store, we would have probably all sang the “dang pet store and puppy mills song” when in reality, stuff happens.
I’m not defending all pet stores, some truly are shady. As a rule, if the animal is not much more expensive than a small licensed breeder, and the animals are urine-stained and ill (a sick dog should not be handled by anyone so you shouldn’t have access to it in a pet store), you should be weary of a puppy purchase from such an establishment. The economics do not work out in your favor.