First of all, it’s a Business (the pet business…)


People often tell me how much they love animals, and how their ideal job would be owning a pet shop.

I just cringe.

“You mean, you want to sell animals?”  I ask.

“Sure!  Why not? Seeing other animal lovers look so happy? What could be better?”

Naturally, these people aren’t thinking about where they are going to get the animals they are selling, or what will happen to the unsold animals….because they have a  television fantasy image of what running a pet store  is like.  They  are in love with the image, not the reality.

So, I ask, “Are you planning on asking the people who come into your pet store how long they have been thinking about  this, and what kind of research they have done on this kind  of pet?  Or are you  not going to ask any questions & just take their money?”

Silence…befuddlement…

Me: “Because, if they’ve done their research, you know to ask what kind of equipment they have, what they need, and  what kind of time they have, and are they sure they can devote X amount of time every day to this pet.  But what if they  have never thought about this seriously?  They just walked in, impulsively,  became attracted to, say, a bird, a snake,  or a puppy. Will you send them away to think about it for 48 hours? Risk losing the sale?  No pet shop does that…and that is where the problems start.”

Never mind that dogs & cats do NOT belong in pet shops unless the owner of the pet shop is the breeder, & will screen people. You have to buy  animals from livestock producers (who don’t care who ends up with their animals) to resell them.  That’s where all the puppies & kittens come from:  irresponsible breeders (unless  they are  being displayed for a shelter or rescue—& it is posted). Never mind that until very recently,  most  large birds were  trapped in the wild, as were herps & tropical fish…with no regard at all to whether  they were thriving.  It’s a business.

The business is legal because it is not illegal.  An interesting factoid:  there is anecdotal evidence that  most of the dogs & cats that end up in shelters neither come from ethical hobby  or commercial breeders—but what we call backyard breeders—people just breeding their pets for fun.  But nobody is keeping any track of the number of birds & herps (snakes, turtles, lizards) that either die in captivity or are released into the the environment & die. We do know that  the state of Florida made owning pythons illegal, since so many buyers who become bored with them & can’t sell them have let them  loose, & they are killing native species. So much for  the idea that people buying animals are animal lovers, or have an ounce of integrity.

For those defending this kind of  business, well, ok. I guess you are a libertarian (small l), & anything goes.  I hear ya.  I have nothing against you buying or selling sex with adults,  dealing or using drugs, or selling guns & ammo. But  the idea that  I have to support shelters & rescues with my tax dollars (or with donations) so dogs don’t run in packs, & feral cats don’t spread parasites & kill birds, and the herps don’t destroy native species…that doesn’t sit so well with me.

But what  makes it even worse for me—you unethical sellers  have a reputation for selling  ‘love’ & thinking you are making people happy.

At some point, like when the economy in the USA gets so horrific that even middle class folks can’t afford a 40 lb sack of dog food, and the animal sellers start losing money, and the word on the street is that  you don’t make money breeding animals….or—here’s a good one—the state departments of agriculture start fining people for breeding without a license (so sorry, ethical hobby breeders, but because you  managed to sell breedable animals to skanks & scumbags, it has come to this), there won’t be so many unwanted pets, and the prices will really go up. But for now, if you are looking for a pet, I’d advise doing a bit more research.  There are clubs for all the breeds and all the species. Some  clubs have more stringent codes of ethics than others.  But, if you start there, and ask questions of the breeders, you might  find a healthy pet to love and cherish. I just know the odds of finding that pet in a pet shop environment are slim to none.

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