Two weeks ago my very own family member had the unfortunate experience of becoming a textbook pet-store-puppy cautionary tale. The following is a true story that I’m sharing with the hope that someone else will learn from this experience without having to live it.
A family member had been talking about getting a dog off and on for about 2 years. At various times he has sought my advice and we’d had many conversations about his options. I had told him that pet stores use puppy mills, and that buying a dog from a store was the worst place to get one. He knew I was willing to help him find a responsible breeder, or preferably a good match through a rescue group when he felt the timing was right.
So this past August the same family member and his wife casually mentioned some adorable puppies they fell in love with at a local pet store. They told me they really wanted to buy them, but the timing just wasn’t right. I was shocked it had even been a consideration. I told them both immediately once again what a terrible idea that would have been to buy from a store. I spared them all the gory details of the videos I’ve seen of the living conditions these poor dogs endure at mills, and the countless horror stories I’ve heard firsthand from those who have bought pet store puppies, simply because I’m aware that my family doesn’t share my passion for lengthy animal conversations. I thought it was enough to keep my opinion simple, yet clear: puppy mills are cruel and they produce unhealthy dogs, so NO PET STORES. I realize now, too late, that I made a huge mistake. It’s only when people actually learn about the gory details of puppy mills that they finally understand why buying a pet store puppy isn’t as harmless as it seems.
Now it’s November, and I get a phone call from the same family member with “exciting” news – they had bought two puppies. He hadn’t brought the subject up since August, so I was surprised by the news. He said he wanted to move the timing up from December as a surprise to his wife and so it all happened rather quickly. First he had contacted 2 breeders but neither had any puppies available. Then he looked at a rescue dog but didn’t like it. He wanted one NOW, so finally he went to a store. I was even more dismayed when he told me, “But I didn’t go to a regular pet store like a Petco. It was a high-end boutique that promised me they don’t get their dogs from puppy mills.” It had truly never occurred to me that someone might not consider a high-end boutique to be the same as a regular pet store. And he hadn’t just bought A puppy, he had bought TWO puppies. The Cardinal Rule is “No pet stores.” Rule #2 is “Only get ONE puppy at a time.” This was off to a very bad start.
This family member is an intelligent, responsible adult with a college degree and he had been forewarned about pet stores. If he can be duped into supporting the puppy mill industry, I know there are thousands of others capable of doing the same despite good intentions. We’ll be blogging more about what happened with these dogs in the upcoming days. If everyone takes a moment to “paws” and learn about pet stores and puppy mills, we can finally put an end to this incredibly inhumane industry.