It is not difficult to understand why pet store bans have become a hot topic in government lately. With so much misinformation out there today on how and where pet stores obtain their pets this topic is sure to gain attention and notoriety on social media pages, newspapers and news stations.
Pets, especially dogs and cats, are such a big part of people’s lives and families that the thought of any animal not being treated well is likely to enrage even the most passive person. It is that “pull at your heart-strings” tactic that activists are looking to exploit to further their agenda to ban pet stores from selling pets. My Puppy, My Choice will not sit by quietly and let it happen!
What we would like to do is to take this opportunity to inform citizens of why purchasing a pet from a pet store can be an enjoyable experience that revolves around the use of humane and ethical breeding from professional breeders.
Two of the bigger headlines animal activists like to use as their reasoning for banning pet stores from selling pets are 1) there is an overpopulation of dogs and cats available for adoption at shelters and rescues and 2) pet stores get all of their pets from “mills”, with most of the argument being placed on “puppy mills”. My Puppy, My Choice will address both claims however, for this article, and in an effort to use a more appropriate term, that is better defined and understood, we will be replacing the derogatory term “puppy mill” with “substandard breeder(s)” throughout the rest of this article.
In regards to overpopulation of pets at rescues and shelters, while some, at different times throughout the year reach maximum capacity, as a nation there is actually a shortage of adoptable pets through rescues and shelters (https://www.npr.org/2015/01/01/374257591/with-rescue-dogs-in-demand-more-shelters-look-far-afield-for-fido). What the shelters and rescues do have to contend with, and what causes a lot of the “pseudo”-overpopulation statistics is the unregulated and problematic breeding from stray dogs or dogs from “backyard breeders”, most of which are Pit Bulls or mixes of the Pit Bull “breed”. My Puppy, My Choice believes that every dog or pet deserves a home but for many people and families that live in neighborhoods, apartments, condominiums and townhomes, pit bulls and pit bull mixes are on the “Breeds Not Allowed” list. This is one of several reason why Pit Bulls/mixes are found so prevalently at rescues and shelters, and unfortunately why not many homes can adopt them. When activists attempt to blame any overpopulation issue on pet stores it is quickly debunked because most, if not all, pet stores do not sell Pit Bulls or Pit Bull Mixes. On average, the number of pure bred dogs that enter the shelter system each year that might have been from a breeder or pet store is only 5.04% (http://shelterproject.naiaonline.org/purebred/) and of that 5.04% most of those animals that are able to be adopted out will find their forever homes.
A new trend that is taking the rescue world by storm is the importation of THOUSANDS of dogs EVERY YEAR from other countries like Korea, Thailand, Mexico, as well as Puerto Rico. It seems rescues and shelters utilize these countries as a new “market” to get dogs from to keep a variety of adoptable dogs at their shelter or rescue. These imported dogs usually find homes quickly, making another argument in favor of an actual dog shortage and not an overpopulation. Not every animal advocate agrees with this practice but for those that do it can prove to be a lucrative way to get donations and in no way helps the animals that are stray or abandoned in their local area. This practice puts local dogs in kill-shelters more at risk because the imported dogs get much more media attention and have a better chance of getting adopted, while the local dog would face an uncertain future. (https://animallaw.foxrothschild.com/2014/05/20/the-phenomenon-called-retail-rescue/).
Substandard breeders do exist in the United States! However, what constitutes a substandard breeder is a matter that is hotly debated between animal extremists, advocates for pet store bans, professional breeders, the American Kennel Club, pet store owners, etc. These substandard breeders usually operate under minimum or, in most cases, no requirements at all by not obtaining the proper license based on the number of animals they have in their care. Very little attention is placed on the physical and mental needs of their animals and in most cases, if the breeder were licensed, they would be receiving direct violation notices upon inspection by the USDA or the state they reside in. Animal activists and extremists want the public to believe any person that sells a puppy for a profit would be considered a substandard breeder. Their “definition” is why pet stores automatically get associated as only working with that type of breeder. The problem with that logic is that there are many professional reputable breeders that do make their living from breeding dogs.
To be clear, when we are discussing professional reputable breeders we are specifically referencing breeders that receive unscheduled inspections from different entities, including federal and state and are maintaining good standing with those entities, while also going above and beyond state and federal guidelines to provide care and attention to their animals. They are genuine people that understand why dog breeding is a needed service and invest their time, effort, energy and love into providing great family pets for people and families.
With the increasing demand from families all over the United Sates for certain traits and characteristics when looking for a family pet it is imperative that reputable professional breeders be able to continue to provide the public with puppies from the dogs they breed. Otherwise, the demand will be met by a largely underground market of backyard breeders, online breeders, substandard commercial breeders and through the dangerous importation of domestic animals from other countries.
Families that are not matched with the proper dog for their household is one of the main reasons why shelters and rescue groups end up with surrendered dogs at their facilities. This is why meeting the puppy you are getting ready to take home and understanding the breed characteristics and upkeep is so important and is precisely why there is, and will always be, a demand for pure-bred and designer breed dogs.
Adopting and/or rescuing a pet is almost always a great thing to do but adoption/rescuing should not be the only option for people when they are trying to add a new member to their family. Hobby breeders are another great option for the public however, hobby breeders, by definition, should only have a few breeding dogs at a time and unfortunately would never be able to keep up with the current demand from families in the United States.
So, what is the solution?
The solution is not to take away a person’s right to choose where they get their pet from!
Pet Store Regulation and transparency is a key component in maintaining a variety of breeds available to the public, at a local level, while also regulating the quality of breeders a pet store can work with. Pet Store Bans do nothing to take away the demand for pets so why take away one of the only regulatable sources the government has? It is easy logic for a rational person.
~My Puppy, My Choice
Below are some helpful charts to better understand what places are regulated vs. unregulated in the pet industry.