‘How much is that puppy in the window…’

As the song implies, pet store puppies are almost too cute to walk by without at least a passing thought about taking the bundle home. Who could be that hard hearted?

Unfortunately, the impulse shopping the song seems to encourage is one of the main concerns for animal rescue agencies and shelters. Should pet stores sell dogs? And if so, should people buy puppies from pet stores?

To clarify, there are two types of pet store puppies:

  • The typical pet store puppy is indeed ‘for sale’ and is treated like a commodity.
  • Many pet stores now use their high traffic windows to help adopt out puppies and dogs that need a forever home.

The second scenario benefits animals in need and because the adoption is overseen by the adoption or rescue agency, ‘impulse’ shopping is next to impossible, no matter how cute that puppy in the window may be.

The first pet store puppy purchase is the topic for this article.

Should Pet Stores Sell Dogs?

Pet stores sell pet supplies, pocket pets, fish, snakes, lizards, frogs, tarantulas, and anything else that humans could possible want to share their homes with. But should pet stores sell dogs?

There are many animal advocates that say no animals should be sold or, in some radical cases, even share our homes. However, there are many pet shops that stock their shelves with our furry friends and pull a profit. There are also people who continue to purchase our four legged friends from pet stores not realizing that they could be contributing to frightening dog and cat over population and euthanasia rates.

As a general rule, pet stores purchase puppies from dog breeders who are in the business to make a profit, not for the betterment of a breed or line of dogs.

A reputable breeder will:

  • Want to know who purchases their puppies and screens perspective owners well in advance of them taking the puppy home.
  • Make sure all breeding stock will have passed a variety of health screens to make sure that debilitating diseases and conditions such as hip dysplasia, PRA and Von Wildebrand disease are not passed on to their progeny.
  • Hand raises the litter of puppies to help guarantee they will not be timid, easily frightened or aggressive.
  • Makes sure all puppies receive their shots and are examined by a veterinarian before they are sent to their new homes.
  • Begins introducing the puppies to things such as wearing a collar and leash, strangers, loud noises, car rides, crate training, etc at an early age so that the pup never develops a fear of new or strange scenarios.
  • Ensure the owner has the needed supplies and accessories to properly care for the animal.

Good breeders also sign contracts, guarantee the health of their pups and offer to take the pup back or re-home it if at anytime in the life of the dog the owners can no longer keep the pet.

Pet store puppies generally come with none of the above-mentioned benefits. Because the breeder does not care who ends up owning the puppy, health screens are not considered, potential temperament issues are ignored, and once the pet store takes possession of the puppy, its overall health is not a concern.

These poor breeding practices are what fuels puppy mills that potentially generates substantial income for unscrupulous dog breeders.

Should people buy dogs from pet stores?

You walk by a pet stores and in the window sits a sad little white fluff ball with adorable little black eyes and a wet button nose. It looks sad and lonely by itself in the small cage. You immediately want to ‘save’ the pup – who wouldn’t?

Unfortunately, this is exactly what happens every day across the continent. Not realizing the potential difficulties of raising a well-behaved, healthy puppy, a quick purchase is made, often made even easier by pet stores offering a monthly payment plan on that puppy. Before you know it, you have yourself a puppy. Now the fun begins.

What many people do not consider when buying a puppy from a pet store is how much effort, energy and thought it takes to raise a pup and how many years the puppy will be a part of their life. Many people put less thought into buying a puppy then they do buying a car. The decision to buy a puppy should never be a spontaneous, impulse purchase.

And the sad reality is that yes, you may have saved that one pup but tomorrow another one will be sitting in its place that may not be purchased by someone as thoughtful or conscientious as you. Without the demand for pet store puppies, there would be no supplies i.e. no puppy mills.

Next time you walk past a pet store and see those adorable black eyes looking up at you, keep walking. Instead, head straight into the pet store that helps adopt out unwanted pets, your local humane society or to a reputable breeder who puts care and attention into her hobby.

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