If you are reading this it is either because you are interested in opening your own pet store business or are simply a curious person wondering where all the animals (literally millions sold every year) come from.
Many people wonder where pet stores get their pets. People have been told that stores get puppies from horrid places called “Puppy mills”, but when they ask the store always insists the pups did not come from mills, but came from good breeders. So who is right? Where do puppies, and other pets sold in pet stores, come from?
Do Stores get Pets from Good Breeders?
Although many stores will insist they get pets from good breeders, this is simply not true. A good breeder takes their animals to shows to prove they are worth breeding, have them tested for genetic conditions, they establish contacts of interested buyers before breeding, and screen buyers well; they would not trust a pet store will selling their pets, they would not need a pet store to sell their pets, and the pet store would not be able to pay the price that good breeders command because of the testing they do on their pets prior to breeding.
So Where do Pet Stores get Pets from?
Pet stores generally buy from one of three places: Mill breeders, pet brokers, or the public.
Mill breeders are exactly what you think, places that house many animals whose only purpose is to produce other animals for the purpose of sale. This is done as cheaply as possible so that a profit can be made. There are mills for most kinds of pets from fish, to lizards, to birds, and of course, puppies.
Pet Brokers buy from mills, so sometimes when stores say they are not buying from mills they are telling the truth (sort of); they buy from the broker. The broker buys up massive amounts of animals, having contacts with many mills, and sometimes working directly with one pet store chain, or working with many stores. This is how pet stores are often able to say they can get “almost any breed of small dog” or whatever. In some cases pet brokers buy from importers or even smugglers.
Occasionally a member of the public will have a litter of pets they cannot get rid of and will approach the store, and the store will buy the litter. Since most people (other than the mills) do not produce enough animals to meet the demand of the store this is not where the majority of animals come from. Usually this applies to a few hamsters, or rabbits.
What about Pet Stores that have Animal Shelter Pets?
Some stores are getting away from selling mill pets, in part because of public demand and in part because, although they do make profit, they are sometimes stuck paying for sick animals. As such some stores now have animal shelter animals for adoption. This can be confusing because some stores try to make people think the pets they are selling are “adoption” but to determine if this is true, the real adoption would involve a contract from the animal shelter that actually owns the pet.