Despite all the well-deserved bad press pet stores that sell puppies are getting these days, a surprising number of would-be pet owners still head straight for a pet store to buy a pet, or purchase one via the Internet. Many of these retail pets end up in shelters because their owners simply weren’t prepared to deal with the consequences of their decision to buy.
Some retail pets end up in shelters because of health issues – the sad result of being born into horrid conditions at puppy mills, being taken prematurely from their mothers before their immune systems have fully developed, and often, being irresponsibly bred from parents whose own health problems make them unfit for breeding. Once many buyers realize their new “family member” has health issues, they dump them at a shelter to be rid of the problem and avoid the cost of medical treatment, instead of seeking appropriate medical help for their pet.
Or maybe it’s a behavioral problem that lands the retail puppy in a shelter. Given the truncated learning period the puppy shares with his mother and siblings before being torn away and shipped off to a pet store or directly to a buyer, it’s not surprising that many retail puppies develop behavior and personality problems. But for the uninformed new pet guardian, it is indeed a surprise, and one that many new pet parents don’t want or know how to remedy. So, once again, it’s off to a shelter for the misbehaving pup.
People who purchase from pet stores or via the Internet rarely get the crucial information they need from the seller to care for their new charge, and as a result, are ill-equipped to handle even some of the most basic developmental issues. Consequently, both the new puppy and the new caretaker suffer.
When you adopt from a shelter or rescue group – including the many breed rescue groups that specialize in specific breeds – you not only are giving a deserving dog a second chance, but you also benefit from the knowledge and experience offered by the people from whom you are adopting. And you’re helping to decrease the demand for retail pups, a single act that can help to put cruel puppy mills out of business. Fortunately, there are many retailers who now work directly with shelter and rescue groups to help them find homes for their many deserving animals. So be sure to do your homework.
If you or someone you know is thinking of adding a new four-legged member to the family, visit AnimalAllianceNYC.org for a comprehensive listing of shelter and rescue groups that are waiting to help you make an informed and happy choice! And if you know of a pet store that sells puppies, urge the store manager to look into working a local shelter or rescue group as an alternative to selling puppies.
Director of Communications,
Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals