Buying Petstore Dogs

ALL pet shops that sell dogs acquire their animals from puppy mills. It is easy for a store to claim, "We got this dog from a local breeder". This simply means that the "local breeder" is a puppy miller. No responsible/ethical breeder will sell to a pet store. And "local" can mean a region of the country...not just where you live.

I have worked in sales for the past 10 years. Gimmicks are used to "sell" an item. Pet shops place cute puppies behind a window and then encourage customers to hold them. This is nothing more than a sales gimmick. Car salesmen are masters at this. They will literally tell you anything in order to get you to buy their "special" cars. Ever walk into a sales room and hear the salesman tell you, "This car makes you look like a million bucks!" or, "Women love these type sports cars", etc. Pet shop salesmen are right up there with the car folks. The name of the game in selling is to get the customer to believe the story... that the "product" being sold is the best in the market.

If your puppy ends up with genetic problems down the line, the pet store will not help you. When you have difficulty with housebreaking, the pet store will not be there to take your call at 10 at night. When your puppy/dog gets runny eyes or is acting strangely, the pet store cannot help you or give reliable advice. The pet store is only concerned about one After the sale is completed you are on your own. Occasionally there will be a warrantee. Do not be misled. The warrantee will only cover certain stated items...nothing else!

Pet stores do not care about the puppies nor about the consumer. They only care about profit. Pet stores cannot tell you any personal stories about the parents of your puppy, nor can they tell you about the grandparents. You cannot call pet stores to tell them stories about your puppy like its first experience with an obedience command. You cannot bring your puppy to visit its parents nor do pet stores care if you bring a puppy back in for them to see (unless, of course, you're coming back to buy merchandise).

Pet store owners/employees are all trained in the art of selling and being friendly. Most employees/owners know nothing about the breeds they are selling except for a short pamphlet about the breed...and even then, "add-libbing" is an art form.

Certainly stores are going to have nice areas for both puppies and customers. Part of the gimmick in selling is to impress the customer. After all, who wants to buy a car from a junky auto-dealership. You would immediately suspect that dented or dirty cars might not work exactly right. Who wants to buy a puppy covered in filth, much less hold such an animal? Who would want to shop at a dirty Wal-Mart store?

The sad news is in the "behind the scenes" life of these pet store dogs. The sad news is in what the customer does not see. EVERY purchase of a pet store puppy condemns that puppy's mother to a life in hell. No justification can be made by thinking that you might be "saving" a puppy. What actually happens is that you have just purchased a female animal's continued misery. These pet store dogs are not whelped in warm kitchens, they are whelped in cages. They live their entire lives in a cage, sometimes in crowded and cramped conditions. These dogs were not brought into the store via a Mercedes, but in TRUCKLOADS... packed-in, just like old furniture and delivered as merchandise. How horrible for a puppy to be ripped from it's mother at 6/7 weeks of age, stuffed in a cage with other puppies and shipped off like chickens. I can only imagine the fear these poor babies must live through. The maternal instinct is just as strong in dogs as in people and to have a whole litter prematurely ripped from a mother's side can have devastating and permanent emotional effects on both the mother and puppies. With every pet store puppy purchase this practice is perpetuated. The breeders do not care about these dogs, they care about how much the broker is going to pay them.

There is no justification that can be made for buying a puppy through a pet store. No amount of trying to make it seem like it was the right thing to do can make up for the thousands of dogs that are in cages and the thousands of bitches giving birth to puppies every heat cycle. Nor can it justify the thousands of puppies/bitches that die in whelp/birth because they are nothing more than a means to an end.

This is not meant to be a criticism of anyone who has purchased a pet store dog. Most people honestly don't realize the extent of horror that their purchase has helped to perpetuate. They have no idea. If ONE person thinks, after reading this, and passes that cute puppy in the window, then my article will have served its purpose. I want to make people realize that buying a puppy from a pet store is NOT wonderful or great.

Ask the "rescue" people about the condition of all the dogs they see coming from impulse buyers and puppy millers. Ask the folks who go to auctions on weekends where these dogs are displayed like cattle...some whelping right in front of "buyers". It's ugly and disgusting. Again, my purpose is not to criticize...just to educate about the cold hard reality of just what purchasing a dog from a pet store really means.

The IGCA (and private rescue individuals) get plenty of rescued "petshop dogs" that people bought and some even saying that they "saved" them from the pet shop.

So what did they save them from? From a cage in a pet store? Some of these pet store dogs went into an even more miserable existence of a life - from abuse to neglect. Does anyone consider that 'saving an animal'? The price range on these dogs ranged from $400 to $1,000. Price didn't seem to matter to these people (after all they bought the dog on credit cards). In the end, these dogs didn't end up being saved from anything. They certainly didn't end up being well loved pets, but objects to their owners.

Now let me tell you about the dogs who are NOT in the pet store: Let me tell you about the dogs who are TRAPPED behind the scenes - the ones you never see. Perhaps the next time you walk into a pet store you will see what is behind that puppy face. That puppy face is NOT begging you to take it home, it is begging you to STOP the misery of 1,000's of dogs behind the scenes.

Let me tell you the story of Bluver (pictured below)- She's a PetShop Momma.

She has lived her entire 9 years of life in a cage and has been bred twice every year to produce puppies for the Pet Store trade.

Bluver doesn't know what grass is.

Bluver doesn't know what a toy is.

Bluver doesn't know the comforts of a soft bed.

Bluver doesn't know what it's like to lay on a couch and watch TV with someone who adores them.

Bluver doesn't know what taking a walk around the block means.

Bluver doesn't know what a treat is.

Bluver doesn't know the sound of whispered dreams and stories of an owner who adores them.


Bluver had only one purpose in life - and that was to fill the puppy stores with babies. She never even got to be a mother nor was she ever able to take comfort in nurturing her babies. They were ripped from her side at 6 weeks of age, and those babies where stuffed in trucks and shipped across the country to various holding areas for dispersement to pet shops.

Some of her children have been lucky - they have found good homes - others found their way into IGCA Rescue and still others found their way to the pounds after people who impulse bought them at petstores no longer wanted them.

After nine years of giving, what do you think happen to Bluver? She was packed up, and sent to an AUCTION BLOCK - where other Commercial breeders looked and poked at her and decided that at 9 years of age she didn't have any VALUE. So she was placed in a cage to be destroyed.

Bluver got lucky that day - unlike several others who waited on death row with her. Bluver found a kind soul who bought her from the destroy pen to let her live out her remaining days as a companion to someone.

So tell me, is it worth it purchasing from a pet shop? Did Bluver deserve to live a life of misery and then when she was no longer useful - to be tossed away like some piece of garbage? People may get lucky and find a decent pet at a pet store - but the misery it perpetuates isn't worth the "luck" one may find.

Please if you are considering purchasing a pet, do not go to a pet store - do not perpetuate the misery this industry gives to our wonderful companions. If you don't believe what is behind the scenes - ask some of these people who do inspections, ask people about the auctions and ask them what happens to the dogs who are no longer useful or making money.

The following paragraphs were written here on the IG-L list from from Bluver's new owner:

"She had lived her entire life in a small cage, and been bred each season until she whelped her last three petstore pups at the age of nine. Her ribcage is completely sprung and, on spaying, her insides were mush. She, like Emily, had lost a toe and forgotten how to walk normally. Addie had also lost pieces of each ear to freezing or

frostbite. And she now has only two teeth. But she still wags her tail. And it was that wagging her tail which probably saved her life. And, Addie could not jump, neither up nor down. After a month she can now walk clumsily up and down two steps and she got up a fair trot in the yard the other day. I swear she was grinning from ear to ear at what she had done. She is learning where her feet are and how to move them in synch. She can now jump off the bed (with a thud) but still stands up and hops wildly to be put up on it. It took her several nights to learn to lie on her side and stretch out in bed. She follows me everywhere and grins at me and wags, wags, wags. She had never seen a window, a TV, furniture, or even steps. She has been malnourished through her entire life, and has had no stimulation, no experience except whelping, trying to save her puppies, and trying to keep from freezing or losing her toes in the floor.

I am so grateful that she survived to come and live with me and sleep in my bed and eat good food and be warm for the remainder of her life. I am thankful fate sent me this grand lady and I am as proud of her as of any show dog I could ever own. She has already given me more than I could ever hope to repay. Oh, and Adeline wasn't her first name. I named her that when she clearly had never been called by her real name. In another life her name was Vore's Bluver, but now she's my Adeline."

Here is another testimony of a dog who was trapped behind the scenes:    Written by her owner and reprinted here with permission:

"I am 99% certain (can't tell you why, but will be glad to provide photos) that my own dear Miss Priscilla is Miss Emily's mother. I must now admit that I did the unthinkable and actually paid to have Priscilla released from her horror.

Some of you will be put off by that, but let me tell you how it happened.  An ad in our local paper advertising IG puppies caught my eye 5 or 6 years ago. I wanted to investigate, and finally talked my daughter into going along. We drove to a Missouri puppy mill totally unprepared for what we were about to see. I pretended to be a first time IG buyer, so the owner was more than happy to show us around. He had his dogs in a portable kennel, sort of a travel trailer with cages sticking out everywhere. The cages were supposed to have bottoms so bad things wouldn't fall on the lower dogs - some didn't. A really old IG female caught my eye - his best breeder he told me. She had 7 to 8 puppies just like clockwork twice a year. This bitch was horribly pathetic - she couldn't walk, just crawled on the wire.

She had open sores on her elbows and stifles, abcesses between most of her toes where she should have had webbing, no hair, teeth sticking out at all angles that were yellow and brown and runny eyes. The man said not to pay any attention to how she looked - she'd be fine again as soon as she weaned her current litter. I had a hard time not throwing up.

Unfortunately, I couldn't get that little bitch out of my mind. About a month later, I called to see if she was still alive - then asked to buy her.  I know, I know ... but I couldn't sleep!!! Dixie Rone went with me to pick her up, and the man put her down on the ground in his back yard. She couldn't even stand up, let alone walk or run. Dixie, bless her heart, looked him in the eye and asked how long she had been like that. He said he had no idea. It was the first time she had ever been on the ground so far as he knew! He sold her to me without papers (wonder what he did with those?), but I did get a look at them. She was only 4 1/2 years old.

Priscilla's problems are a lot like Emily's. Only one or two teeth left, luxating patellas, wry mouth (probably from a break while chewing on the wire), scarred eye, blue balding syndrome, and low thyroid. It was two years before she could let us touch her without trying to run and hide.

When the vet spayed her, he found the probable cause for her extreme fear.  Priscilla seemed to have been the unwilling victim of not just one, but several, "home-made C-sections". He said that no vet would have made such a mess.

Priscilla still screams if we touch her while she's sleeping - I will never get used to that terrible sound.

On a much happier note, Priscilla is doing well. It took her about 4 years to learn and get strong enough to jump on the couch - but once she mastered it she staked her claim.  I will never have the heart to deny her anything! She is very loving, gentle, and sweet, and except for the night terrors, you would never know what she has lived through.

The important part of this story is that if there had not been buyers for her puppies, Priscilla would not have had to suffer so, nor would Emily.  Please do every thing you can to discourage the sale of puppies through pet stores - If Priscilla and Emily could speak they would agree! "

After reading this, how can anyone feel that purchasing from a petstore is okay? Addie (aka Bluver) is just one dog of many that are "behind the scenes".

I'm not posting this to condemn anyone who has previously bought from a petstore, but to hopefully prevent someone from perpetuating this horrible practice.