I went to visit my family over Thanksgiving and decided to visit the pet store that the puppies had come from. I was curious to experience firsthand the lies they tell their customers. When I asked the co-owner where she gets her puppies from, she assured me they have a rigorous screening procedure and only use the best breeders. She told me each of her breeders focuses on only one breed, they have only one litter at a time and are raised with the family in the home. When I asked if she would use someone who had 30 females housed in a shed she acted horrified and said “Never!” I proceeded to tell her about my conversation with one of her breeders and she denied it repeatedly, essentially accused me of lying, and eventually went into the back of the store “to call the breeder.”
While the owner hid in the back, the store clerk tried to tell me that the conditions aren’t as bad as I thought. Though she had never been there herself, she said “the Midwest is huge, there’s tons of land, and the dogs all live on farms with acres to run around on.” I laughed at this fantasy image she had created of puppy mills, and then pointed out the breeder herself admitted she keeps them in cages at all times. The clerk then stated that “ALL” dogs have coccidia and giardia, which is completely untrue, and that the kennels are inspected to make sure they meet minimum requirements. I pointed out that the USDA’s minimum requirement stated the cages only need to be 6 inches longer than the dog’s body length, and if they’re housed with another dog they aren’t required to provide exercise. They can legally live this way their whole lives. But does that make it okay?
I had lost count of the number of lies I had been told since entering the store. I also had a newfound appreciation of how so many people are tricked into supporting this cruel industry. Unless you are really familiar with the subject and the common false practices, it was easy to fall for their sales-pitch. The store-owner eventually came out from the back after 20 minutes and claimed she couldn’t reach the breeder, but that she would “follow up” to investigate.
(The following video is an HSUS investigation of Petland pet stores and provides an example of the lies store clerks tell interested customers.)
It’s now been over 2 months since the dogs were purchased. The couple struggled for a long time over whether they could handle two puppies. They came seriously close to giving one up to a friend before finally committing to keep both. They’re still working on housetraining, and they’ve enrolled both dogs in obedience training and socialization classes.
My hope is that both of these dogs will live a long, healthy life and be part of the 10% of pets that enjoy a permanent loving home. But even in this best case scenario, the parents of these pups will lead a sad, miserable life; they will be confined to a cage for years, receiving no human affection or vet care, breeding every heat cycle until they are deemed “unprofitable,” and then killed. They deserve better. They deserve the same life their pups will enjoy. They deserve a family that will love them. While it’s easy for an unsuspecting consumer to fall prey to the lies of an unscrupulous pet store-owner, the simple fact is that NO RESPONSIBLE breeder sells their puppies to pet stores. Period. The only way the cruel puppy mill industry will disappear for good is if people help spread awareness and stop buying dogs from pet stores.