Buying Pets in Pet Stores Supports a Cruel Industry

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Pet stores sell pets that come from a cruel industry of mass breeding. Learn why a person who loves animals should not support stores who sell pets. Where do pet stores get their pets

Do you see that puppy in the pet store window? Are its sad eyes reaching out to you to save it? PLEASE resist the temptation, because ironically buying live animals from pet store may actually support cruelty.

Those sad eyes are hiding a deeper truth, a cruel world where pets are bred in massive numbers in poor conditions, solely to make profit. Buying an pet keeps this horrid breeding industry going. The buyer is not saving one life. He, or she, is condemning others to suffer.

The Cruelty of Mass Breeding Farms or Mills

All pet stores deny getting their pets from cruel suppliers, but reputable breeders always have buyers lined up for their animals (many will NOT even breed until they have a waiting list) and would not need to hide anonymously behind the store, as such we can reason that the suppliers to the pet stores are NOT reputable breeders.

Pet store gets their pets from very cruel breeders (or through brokers) who are encouraged to breed with every sale made. Known as puppy mills for dogs, kitty mills for cats, and any number of terms for mass breeders of other pets, the parents of any animal in a pet store live in horrific conditions. All pet store animal purchases contribute to this cruelty.

Think about it, to make a profit, one must breed cheap, investing no extra expenses. The parents are kept in tiny cages, often stacked on on top of the other, with only enough room to stand and turn around, they are bred from the time they are old enough and their necks are broken when they can no longer produce. They are not socialized, handled, or loved. Nearly every pet store purchase supports these kinds of breeders, no matter if the cages in the store are nice, or filthy.

Puppy mills started as a way for rural folks who didnt have enough land to raise livestock, to make extra income.  The dogs are housed as though they were nothing more than products, which indeed they are.

Pet stores may not actually see the facilities the animals come from, they don't have time. Many buy from brokers, middlemen who can sell the store any kind of animal at any request. Think about it, if the pet store is selling a puppy for $800 they probably bought it for less than $200. The broker needs to make money too, he probably bought the pup for under $100. Imagine how little care went into the pup, if that was all it was worth. Imagine how horrid the conditions must be that the seller will not open their facilities to the public to sell their animals directly, knowing they could get more money.

Other Problems

Back at the pet store, another puppy, kitten, baby bunny, Betta fish, or whatever, is quickly purchased (cheaply) and put into that same cramped, boring cage. Thus not only does the cruel suffering continue, but it continues over and over because a buyer supported them and rewarded them for keeping the pet in a small cage by handing over your money to the store that kept the pets in such a sad manner. Even if the store keeps its pets in large immaculate cages, they still support amazing cruelty because of where they get the pets from.

puppy in a boring pet store cage

Photo Source  The cage is clean, but boring, still if you could see how his parents lived you would be horrified.

Another problem that pet store buyers are supporting is that these animals are raised cheaply, not only do their parents suffer, as we already mentioned, but a larger than usual number of deaths occur in young animals. The animals are fed cheap food, death rates among newborns are high. Of course thanks to repeat breedings, the birth rates are high as well so a breeder can over look a few deaths. Since these breeders often have hundreds of animals. Litters are always being born.

The young pets are often weaned (taken from their mother) early because they are cuter and will sell faster. This is stressful, risky, and cruel, and again deaths may occur, but even if not, the buyer is unknowingly purchasing a weaker animal, and one who was never handled or socialized. These breeders do not have the time to handle the offspring.

It is a big problem with with birds, and rodents, the animals are not handled prior to arriving at the pet store.  This means they are not as friendly or tame and will be more work for a new owner.  Puppies and kittens are generally not handled while at the mills earlier either, but are not as difficult to tame. 

Reputable breeders invest time and money showing their dogs to earn championship titles, proving their worth as breeding animals. They also have their pets checked by a vet for inheritable conditions. If two dogs produce a bad litter they do not rebreed them. The breeders that breed for the pet store industry do not invest a dime in proving their pets are genetically sound for breeding. Dogs with bad teeth, bad legs, poor eyes, heart problems, and who are poor examples of their breed are continually breeding. The problems are not apparent until the pups grow a bit, but by then its too late.

Shih Tzu with bad teeth

Photo Source  Sure he probably was a cute pup, but this dog requires expensive dental surgery.

Math Time

As an example we will use kittens. In the United States alone an estimated two to four million kittens are euthanized every year because more are born than there are homes for. The kitten bought from a store not only forces its parents to continue breeding, but means that future litters will be born that will take homes away from other kittens. In a quick math example we can see how the problem multiples.

  • One kitten “saved” by you.
  • Two parents suffering breeding until they can breed no more (generally their necks are broken once they stop being productive).
  • Four other kittens born from the next litter to replace the kitten you bought, plus one or two that died shortly after birth since the mother had poor nutrition. 
  • One other kitten euthanized in a shelter because it did not get a home.  Other kittens euthanized because of the homes taken by the litter born to replace your kitten. 
  • The cruelty cycle continues as long as people are willing to buy pets from pet stores.

What happens if people stop buying from pet stores?

The pets in the store will not be killed. If everyone refused to pay the overly high prices stores are asking in relationship to the quality of animals they sell, the stores would be forced to reduce their prices until they are not making a profit. At this point when the pets sold it would not be worth it to the store to buy more pets, eventually they would stop selling live animals.

The unscrupulous breeders that supply the pet stores would no longer be able to make a living breeding animals and would get rid of their younger animals cheaply. Animal shelters and rescues would be very quick to help relieve them of excess animals, as these places hold animals that are often breeds (small dogs) high in demand for adoption. Since shutting down these kinds of places permanently has long been something shelters and rescuers have looked forward to as a way to end much suffering they would get on board with rescuing the breeding animals, as many already have after raids of such places.

But, what if I cannot ingore the sad eyes in the pet store?

It is tough to turn your back on a cute pet in a pet store, especially if it is in a cramped or filthy cage, but, if you love animals, you must. Better still, stay out of any store that sells live animals. Do not even look. Even if the animals are in nice cages purchasing them condemns their parents to absolutely horrific cruel lives. It also means more litters will be born that could end up in poorly run pet stores. Simply remind yourself that every animal purchased from a pet store means more will suffer.

typical puppy mill

Photo Source A typical puppy mill in the USA.  The breeding dogs NEVER leave these cages, nor do they get to play with each other, their only interaction is to mate. 

If you want a Pet AND do not want to support Cruelty

There are thousands of pets sitting in shelters right now waiting for loving homes. Many of these pets will not find homes as more are brought into shelters than there are homes for. These pets can be adopted generally for much less than a pet store pet can be purchased for.  Some pet shelters have every type of pet from puppies to ponies.  A few pet stores offer space for shelter pets up for adoption, but there is often greater selection at the shelter itself.

If you are looking for a specific breed of animal, be sure to look for breed rescue groups which your local shelter may help you find. Talk to your veterinarian, they may know of animals in need of homes as well.

Look for reputable breeders for the type of animal you are looking for.  If its a dog, lizard, bird, or cat, you can find reputable breeders through dog magazines lizard magazines, bird magazines, or cat magazines.  Rodents and other animals are often bred at pet shows. 

Finally be sure to educate others why buying animals from a pet store is supporting the worst kind of cruelty.

Further Reading

What is a Puppy Mill

Advantages of Adopting a Pet rather than Buying One

Eleven Questions to Ask Yourself Before getting a New Dog or Puppy

How to Select the Right Dog

Guide for Buying a Purebred Puppy

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Posted on Aug 16, 2011