Excuse me for a moment, but I have got to get up on my Soap Box and do a little preaching. Since my last column I've been asked by several what my opinion of Pet Shops is. Well, stand by for Soap Box!
A pet shop that sells dogs is one of the worst places you can get a dog! There may, (and I say MAY) be one that does not deserve my criticism, but I haven't found it yet! The animals offered for sale are uniformly poorly bred, poorly raised and over priced! Think about it people! A pet shop is in the business to MAKE MONEY! Now I won't say that all breeders lose money, but most of the good ones do! Lets look at where pet shops get their puppies, shall we.
Have you ever heard the term, Puppy Mill? A puppy mill is, for those of you who don't know, is about 2 steps down from a concentration camp for dogs. Picture this, a row of cages with wire bottoms so the droppings can fall to the ground. Inside each cage is a female dog, she has little room to move around, but that doesn't matter, her claws have grown so long she couldn't walk even if she had room. The stench from the build up of droppings is enough to make you gag. There's probably a piece of plywood cover the cages to keep the worst of the rain out, but there's no other shelter for her. She has a pan of water, and the minimum amount of food to keep her alive. The only time she gets fed well is when she has puppies. The only time she gets out of this cage is to be bred. Every 6 months she's bred to a male as poorly kept as her self. Two months later she has her litter. If half of them die before they're ready to ship, so be it, there's still enough profit for the owner. The puppies are weaned at 3 to 4 weeks, as soon as possible. That's so the BREEDER can fatten them up a bit before shipping!
The mother may last, I won't say live, for maybe 3 or 4 years of this then she dies and is replaced with another. To make matters even worse (if anything could be) a large number of these dogs are stolen! Stolen right out of backyards all over the country and fenced to these monsters!
Oh yeah, you think the "Papers" you get with your pet shop puppy have any relationship to the real world? No way! The BREEDER will have papers for 8 or 10 dogs and will automatically report larger litters than he has. This gives him extra puppy registration slips to pass out with his stock. When a dog dies he keeps on using the same papers over and over again until it would be too obvious that there's no way that dog could still be having puppies, then he buys another registered dog and back to the mill! Your Pet Shop puppy's mother may have died years ago! And, because of the prenatal care these puppies have had and because of the poor breeding practices, these dogs will probably have chronic health problems. Even if the puppy is healthy when you get him home his chances of living to a full old age with no expensive vet help are not good.
Now I'm not saying all Pet Shops get their stock from Mills, but is the chance that you might be supporting this heartlessness one you really want to take? I refuse to be a part of this and I hope you will be too!
There are commercial kennels that breed for the pet dog. They're reasonably well run and kept up. The only thing really wrong with them is that, like Television, when you aim for the lowest common denominator that's just what you get. If you go to buy a puppy insist on seeing the parents. The mother should be there, or if it's a stud fee puppy, the father. Remember, puppies are only puppies for a few months and they're all cute, it's a survival thing, (Keeps you from kill them when they chew up your best shoes) The adult dog is what you're going to live with for a long time. Take the time to make sure you can do it.
If you want more proof that I'm not just ranting and raving think of this. A pet shop in a large mall must pay a large rent just to stay open. Any puppy they sell has a 50% mark up. The BREEDER gets a minimum 50% mark up on the puppy. Add to this shipping and so on and the puppy is lucky if 15% of the purchase price has been spent on him. this works out to pup that cost you $800.00 has had about $120.00 spent on him and his mother and father for the last 6 months. That's roughly $6.67 a month a dog. Not a lot if you ask me. I'd have a lot of trouble taking care of 3 dogs for 6 months for that kind of money! Do yourself and dogs a favor patronize only the stores that sell supplies and nothing else. If you have a local shop that takes unregistered puppies and kittens to sell they can be OK, but the best place to get a dog or cat is straight from their mother and father, they care!
Ruth is a Professional Kennel Master, (she takes over kennels when the owners want to leave town for a while) for 20 years. She's also a K9 behaviorist and has testified in court both for and against dog owners. She works with problem dogs and does advanced personal protection training. She has 4 cats, one of which is leash trained and is certified as a veterinary EMT both small and large animals.
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