Sunday, October 7, 2012

Never, Ever Buy a Puppy From a Pet Store

Every pet shop will assure you, solemnly, that their puppies are different. Their puppies don't come from puppy mills, but from wonderful local breeders - pillars of the community, in fact. The reality is that no responsible breeder would ever place one of their puppies in a pet shop.
But my local pet shop says...

"We buy our puppies from responsible local breeders."

Yes, the employees are told to say that. Ignore it. Virtually all pet shop puppies come from commercial breeders and puppy mills, no matter what the employees say. And even if the commercial breeder or puppy mill is local rather than 300 miles away, what difference does that make? Irresponsible breeding practices are irresponsible whether the breeder lives in Timbuktu or just around the corner. The location makes no difference.

"We buy only from USDA-licensed breeders."

USDA stands for the United States Department of Agriculture. Their business is farming and livestock. The USDA knows little or nothing about dogs. As long as a breeder's paperwork is in order, the facilities are disinfected, cages are a (very) minimum size, and no infectious diseases are immediately obvious, the kennel passes.

The USDA has not the slightest interest in...

* whether the breeder knows anything about his breed

* whether the dogs used for breeding look like their breed

* whether the dogs used for breeding act like their breed

* whether the dogs used for breeding are free of genetic health problems such as hip dysplasia, eye diseases, or heart defects – all of which show up long after you buy the puppy.

A USDA license is not something that should reassure you. On the contrary, it is warning sign that a breeder is cranking out lots of puppies.


"Our puppies' health is guaranteed!"

Ah, yes. The wonderful pet store guarantee. This reassuring platitude is how pet shops try to get around the expenses of genetic health testing.

The pet shop offers to REPLACE unhealthy puppies – instead of seeking to prevent them in the first place by requiring their "wonderful" breeders to do genetic health tests on every parent dog used for breeding.

Let's look at this from the PUPPY'S point of view, shall we? Guarantees don't help a puppy at all. YOU get your money back, but the puppy still has to live with the health problem that might have been avoided if his breeder had been seeking to produce healthy lives instead of scrambling to keep his expenses down.

Pet shops aren't too worried about having to honor their guarantees, by the way.

* First, they count on your becoming attached to the puppy and being reluctant to return it. They know that most of us have soft hearts and would keep a sick puppy even if we're forced to spend a thousand dollars and heartbreaking months or years trying to nurse it back to health.

* Second, the guarantees are carefully written so that whatever your particular puppy develops probably isn't covered or you won't have all the "proper" documentation to prove it.

* Third, many genetic health problems don't show up for months or years. Either the guarantee has expired by then, or you're completely unwilling to give up a dog you've had that long.

My advice to you is to IGNORE everything pet shop people tell you. The pet store industry has sophisticated marketing manuals that teach pet shop owners and employees exactly what to say to persuade you to part with your money. Don't be gullible.

The Pet Shop Advantage

Oh, yes, pet shops do have advantages, which is why people buy from them in the first place.

Instant access to LOTS of puppies. Tracking down puppies from breeders and rescue groups takes time and effort. With less common breeds, you may find no current litters and your only option would be to put your name on a waiting list. Whereas the pet shop is just a short drive away and is open all day, six days a week. There are pet shops in neighboring communities, too. You just look them all up in the phone book and make the rounds until you find something you want. If they don't have the breed or color or


  1. All of these posts reek of ignorance.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.