If you are considering buying a puppy from a pet store I urge you to first find out what is involved. The decision is a personal one, and fairly simple. If you buy a puppy from a pet store you are supporting and encouraging that pet store to continue selling puppies. At the end of this article are some links explaining what is wrong with buying a pet shop puppy and the qualities of a responsible breeder. If you can find a pet shop that has the qualities of a responsible breeder then by all means go right ahead and buy.
Legislation is never as powerful as the consumer. If you won't buy because you don't agree with the business practices then the business owner has no choice at all. Change or go out of business. If you buy, even if its because you feel sorry for the puppy, you are directly responsible for creating the demand to put more puppies in the same situation. The pet shop owner is not to blame. You are. You create the demand. You prove by your actions what business practices you support. Your words mean nothing. Your money is everything to the business decision. Choose wisely.
The conversation below is entirely fictitious and quite biased. I created it, however, not out of thin air but from real conversations with real breeders and pet shop owners. The arrogant attitude represented here was not openly expressed, but does express the decisions made by this fictitious person.
Thank you so much for buying a puppy from my pet store. Your business is important to me. After all, selling puppies is how I make my living. Every person deserves to make a living, don't they? I've gotta tell you, the pet store business is a tough one. With live merchandise you have all these extra rules and regulations the do gooders forced on us. Well they didn't make me do anything different, except now I gotta fill out a lot more paperwork. But is worth it. Puppies and kittens are important to my business and there are plenty of buyers out there.
Some people are trying to make out like pet stores are evil or something. I always get a big snicker from the sanctimonious twits who talk bad about pet shops but are always coming into my store to see the "poor puppies." They just can't seem to stop themselves. And they almost never leave without buying something. Having puppies in the store is an important part of selling the other merchandise. I try to put the puppies where people can see them as they walk by the store. That draws them in. I can make money without even selling the puppies.
I don't see why selling puppies in my pet store is any worse than raising any other kind of livestock. At least most of my puppies live longer than eight weeks! I've heard that most pet store puppies live one or two years and some much longer, eight or ten years! Much longer than chickens. I treat my puppies very well while they are here. And I use approved methods for disposing of the unsalable ones. I care about these puppies and don't want them to suffer, you know.
Do I support " puppy lemon laws"? Well they are a bit of nuisance but they don't really affect my business. It's not like a guarantee on a toaster you know. People get attached. They don't want to return the puppy. Anyway contagious disease isn't a big problem.
If I get something really contagious like Parvo I take quick action. All the puppies in the store are put down right away. Everything is disinfected and a new supply of puppies brought in. Often I have to fill the empty space with puppies from another breeder but quick action limits my costs and means I won't end up on the hook for a lot of vet bills.
As for other kinds of disease like hip dysplasia and such well frankly it just isn't a big concern. Most of this stuff doesn't show up for a long time. And the legislation doesn't cover it because it can happen even to the hobby breeder. Someone once asked me why I didn't check for genetic disease. It was all I could do not to call the person an idiot! Why should I check for genetic disease? It's expensive and almost no one ever asks so obviously they don't care. And anyway I give a six month guarantee. Pretty generous!
Not that I've ever had to pay off or anything. I have had a couple people complain but I always make sure to carefully explain that the best thing to do for their poor suffering puppy is to "put it to sleep." Most people will take the puppy away and not bother me any more about it.
Any one who walks into my store and wants to know about the health of my puppies I just tell them that they are very healthy! Of course if they want to know about genetic diseases I have to use a different strategy. First I try to explain that its always the fault of the owner if a dog gets something like patellar luxation or hip dysplasia. If they get nasty or something I ask them if they really want to buy a dog from a hobby breeder? I'm a professional, I make my living off of dogs. I breed lots and lots of puppies. I sell most of them. After all its very hard to resist that cute little puppy in the cage.
It's very simple. Every time someone buys a puppy I make at least $100, quite a bit more if they buy the puppy when its little. Yeah, puppies are cute, but you can't afford to get too sentimental. Puppy selling is a business and if you don't treat it as such then you can't stay in the game. It's all about cost/risk/benefit. If you lose sight of that you better get out of the business, just sell supplies or something.
Despite what everyone says there is a large market out there for pet store puppies. There is absolutely no need to waste good money of hip tests and other such crap. The truth is simple. Even when people know better the puppies are so cute that they just can't help themselves so they buy them. Heee hee Pretty cool. It doesn't look good to have lots of empty cages so I make sure I always have puppies on the way. Sometimes I get a bit of a scare, though. Like last year.
There was a lot a bad press about pet stores and all of the sudden no one was buying. Well of course if I'm not selling the ones in the store its pretty stupid to be breeding more, so I told my staff to hold back a bit. I was afraid for a short time that I was going to actually have to stop breeding entirely. No point in breeding if you aren't selling. Fortunately as the puppies that we had for sale got older some of those do gooder types started to get worried. I made sure my staff played off on this. They were told that if anyone asked what happened to the unsold puppies that they should just look real sad and say that they were "taken care of." I liked that. A real noncommittal answer and the absolute truth too!
I told the staff not to use a larger cage too, that would make the puppies look bigger and sadder. So of course the puppies were "rescued" from my shop. I got enough money to cover the costs of keeping them, a small profit, and the scare was over. Back to breeding. As long as there are buyers I'm going to keep raising puppies and selling them in my store. No reason not to.
Copyright © 1997-2003, Diane Blackman
Created: October 28, 1997
Updated November 12, 2007